We won’t lie to you: Barbra Streisand’s video for her new song “Don’t Lie to Me” is a lot. A lot of ideas and themes and Donald Trump and words and pictures and politics and Trump and slides and children and crying and Obama and Trump and red and black and white and Trump. Like, you know that girl in A.P. civics who wanted to run for class president and make all of her campaign speeches in the form of rock songs? That’s Streisand’s thing today, and because she is Barbra, she is doing it all the way!
The video is written and directed by Streisand, her first music video directing credit, despite having directed herself in movie musicals like Yentl and A Star Is Born. Unfortunately, the diva herself does not make an appearance, aside from a photo. The aesthetic is more about stock footage and dramatic cuts, but it definitely gets the message across! And that message is that President Trump is a liar with no soul who will ruin this country for his own greedy reasons.
The visuals also seem to be informed by the work of two politically minded, feminist artists who use text in their projects: Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer. Kruger is known for her juxtaposition of black and white images with provocative bold, sans serif text encapsulated in red boxes. Holzer, meanwhile, may be best known for her “Truisms,” but Streisand seems to be referencing her work with projected words and images (particularly her piece For the City, from 2005, in which she projected heavily redacted government documents concerning the war in Iraq).
The track is from her upcoming album, Walls, which comes out November 2. That’s just a few days before the midterm elections, but between the album, the song, the video, and her other activist efforts, Streisand is definitely doing her part to make her (beautiful, award-winning) voice heard. Does the title refer to Trump’s obsession with building border walls, or the metaphorical, ideological walls that divide our nation? Or a third kind of wall not mentioned here?
As she reveals in a behind-the-scenes video, the lyrics came from a place of genuinely wondering how the liars and cheats of the world sleep at night.
It’s clear that political activism and equal rights are causes close to her heart. Earlier this month, she preempted any criticism of her outspoken values in an Instagram post, writing, “For those who are encouraged and inspired by my art, you make what I do worthwhile - - thank you, dearly. For those who tell me to ‘keep my mouth shut,’ here is my response…artists, especially those who have had success, and have won popularity in their work, not only have the right, but the responsibility, to risk the unpopularity of being committed and active. So, until women are treated equally with men, until gays and minorities are not discriminated against and until children have their full rights, artists must continue to speak out. I will be one of them.”
Keep speaking out, Babs! Just don’t lie to us.