Radio Creme BruleeThe "symbols" in George Michael's "White Light" video
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The “symbols” in George Michael’s “White Light” video

20 July 2012 27 Comments
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Back in the early 90s, George Michael walked into the corporate office of Sony Music and informed the executives there that he did not intend to appear in any of his music videos for his sophomore album “Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1”. I can just about imagine the expressions of shock on the faces of the executives at Sony Music when George Michael made his decision. Why wouldn’t they be shocked? George Michael was not only one of their best audio assets, but he was undoubtedly one of their best video assets.

Basic objectivity would suggest that in addition to his inherent musical talent, George Michael definitely had a face for television. That face had more than a little to do with George Michael quickly becoming one of the few undisputed poster-children of MTV’s heyday.  He had (and still does) a raw magnetism that lured the viewer towards his music videos and left them begging for more. More importantly, his music videos were slick works of art (a few of them featuring supermodels that defined an entire era of fashion) that have transcended time and are still looked upon as musical milestones for the art form of the music video. The only mildly frustrating aspect for me, and probably intriguing for most people that watched George Michael’s videos was the fact that they were almost always riddled with symbols – many of which I still do not get. Noteworthy examples include every bit of “Spinning The Wheel”, the word “Fony” on the headphones in ‘Fast Love” (this was an easy symbolism to decipher), and the fickle behavior of the model in “Father Figure”.

In recent years, George Michael has stayed away from symbols and has made music videos that are very mainstream and not exactly groundbreaking. That being said, his most recent video for his new single “White Light” goes back to the tradition of symbols that constituted his video trademark for years. I will honestly admit to not understanding most of what is going on in the video.

Why is there a zebra in the video?

What is Kate Moss doing in the video and what is her coin toss at the end supposed to signify?

George Michael drops a glass of water. It hits the floor and then lands in the hands of a male child with a very stern expression.

Who is the man that walks amidst the dancers towards the end? He is seen earlier in the music video wearing a police uniform. Where does he fit in?

Why is Kate Moss driving through what seems like a forest at the beginning of the video?

The song itself showcases dramatic contrasts wherein the verses sound ominous but the chorus is celebratory. The music video for “White Light” reflects that contrast quite well but it still leaves a fair share of questions.

I encourage George Michael fans to comment on this post and offer your views on some of the questions posed above. For those of you that you have not watched the video for “White Light”, here it is:

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27 Responses to "The “symbols” in George Michael’s “White Light” video"

  1. Decharles says:

    The zebra must represent life/death (black/white). Kate Moss represents the beauty and mother of George,who has his eyes was the most beautiful in the world. The draw is the second chance. Kate in te car, perhaps George’s mother comes to meet her son. The face of man in uniform smiling represent death or disease which hopes to capture George. The child with the glass of wate,George has seen child ?

  2. Decharles says:

    In my previous comment I made a mistake in the email address, please let me excuser. Thank you

  3. silvia-yog says:

    Why is there a zebra in the video?
    Is B&W, so it maybe a symbol for life and death or bad and good

    What is Kate Moss doing in the video and what is her coin toss at the end supposed to signify?
    I think she an angel sent from the “God to choose” between life and death. When she looks at the coin face she mekes her choice George wakes up

    George Michael drops a glass of water. It hits the floor and then lands in the hands of a male child with a very stern expression.
    I think most of the video are George’s thoughts during coma and he gooes back to his childhood; I think the child is George hiself

    Why is Kate Moss driving through what seems like a forest at the beginning of the video?
    While George is in coma she is sent to him to decide his destiny. I think the forest rappresents the trip to reach George

  4. Jules says:

    The answers that Decharles and silvia-yog gave or correct. George is very spiritual and yes, uses symbols and metaphors within many of his videos.

    This week, George sat down and did extensive interviews with various Radio Stations; and spoke about the symbolism and ‘White Light’ in general … If you would like the links to these interviews, please let us know ~

  5. catherine says:

    zebra has a meaning of courage, and also it’s a symbol for lonely diseases….
    both meanings are used i think, it s completely his last experience under our eyes.

  6. the zebra represents two contrasting elements that are life and death. Kate is something supernatural that chooses life with the coin toss, as it would be mere chance he is a live .The child is George because it is told when one is close to death seeing again all past life . The man wearing a police uniform represents the death .The forest is a symbol of mistery,in the forest there are the trees that join earth and heaven ,therefore the mistery of relation between natural and supernatural

  7. @DeCharles: Thanks so much for the comment. I have to admit I am a bit confused about the “second chance” – especially since George Michael gets shot right after Kate Moss tosses the coin.

    @silvia-yog: The coma flashbacks definitely make a lot of sense.

    @Jules: We’d love to get our hands on the interviews. We’re having trouble listening to most of them here in America. The only one I have heard so far is the one with Lorraine Kelly.

    @Catherine: I guess the zebra could represent courage although for me, the first thought that comes to mind is beauty. Several others here have commented on the stripes representing the “good and bad” or “life and death”.

    @Patrizia: That coin toss bit for me really throws me off – especially since George gets shot right after that.

  8. George was in an unknown dimension where time (before-after) doesn’t exist.

  9. just my thought:when the coin is in the air this is when George is still hanging between life and death (waithing for the man to choose),the shot is the moment of greatest danger and when the coin comes back in Kate’s hand this does give him a second chance (german coin=doctors).

  10. @patrizia: I am just a little confused that he gets shot right after that coin-toss. If they had shown up just waking up from a coma that point, it would have made more sense.

  11. Paolo Attianese says:

    I agree with Patrizia. To know the exact meaning of the shot before the coin toss, we have to ask George Michael. The beauty of art is, that the observer can interpret in his own way.

  12. Paolo Attianese says:

    sorry….. The shot after the coin toss (not before).

  13. maybe they wanted to say he was basically dead and after he was brought again to life ,maybe George saw things that don’t belong to this world

  14. @patrizia: That is very likely! As always, George’s videos leave us with so many unanswered questions.

  15. @Paolo: I absolutely agree with you!

  16. Craig P Drew says:

    White Light if you watch it over and over u do understand it…. Belive me…..and its give us all inspiration to get on and live our lives in full…Well done Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou…God Bless You…

  17. @Craig: Thank you so much for your comment! The symbolism becomes more obvious with each repeated watch of “White Light”. It’s just never instant with George Michael videos. I still cannot grasp everything from the “Father Figure” video and it’s been over 20 years!!!

  18. Lexie says:

    I think the shooting at the end signifies that he “dodged a bullet” once but eventually we are all going to die. Better make the most of it….so we can see that white light!

  19. @Lexie: Thank you so much for that. That explanation literally did not cross my mind. I was pretty confused about the party where he gets shot at. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station’s blog?

  20. fatti says:

    i think zebra represents a conflict between 2 aspects could be good and evil .. kate moss could be god or devil .. although she’s pretty but desieving .. she could present life as well .. you want it you run after it but you can’t get enough of it … the child is george himself as if he was reborn again .. the video is fill with symbols like the mirror and the skull with horns.. people half naked dancing in a very ritual way

  21. @fatti: Thank you so much for the comment. I should probably compile a list of George Michael videos that make no sense to me whatsoever. I love them regardless!

  22. MARIA H. DEFRAGA says:

    @jules can you please post the links? Thank you

  23. Linda McKinney says:

    Was “White Light” his very last video? I say yes.. The video is quite confusing especially the part at the end when he gets shot… Who shoots him ? I still Love Love Love the Video and i just cant stop watching it… He was a very handsome man to say the least but for some reason im having a hard time dealung with his passing… I just hate the fact that HE WAS ALONE and i dont know WHY? RIP were Loved and you will Be Missed Very Much but at least we still have your music and videos

  24. @Linda: “White light” was his absolute last video. The whole thing feels quite ominous now. In the video, it looks like the police shoot him. His song is really about being on the brink of death – and to think that happened 4 years later. It has been a challenge to come to terms with his demise. I always imagined him crooning away at least until his 80s. Time will not erode his legacy – and we should be thankful for that. He will remain etched in pop culture for a very long time.

  25. Aicha van Steen van Egten says:

    Hi, can you please tell me more about the symbols faith, money, music religion and love on his album Faith? Who designed them? I looked some symbols up, like the one for money. Looks like the symbol of the turkish lira. Hope someone can tell me more. Thanks so much!

  26. Leslie Wolfson says:

    Would be very interested in getting the links to any and all George Michael interviews regarding “White Light”.
    Additionally, wonder if anyone has an opinion regarding why the police officer who shot George in the video was African-American?

  27. @Leslie: Thank you so much for the comment. There are actually a bunch of interviews online about “White Light” since the song relates to George Michael’s close brush with the death when he developed pneumonia while on tour for Symphonica. Little did anyone know this was indicative of a larger tragedy (i.e. his demise) that befell him a few years later. Look up BBC radio 2 interviews online for interviews about “White Light”. They are definitely there. Not sure about the police offer and the significant of him being African-American. I think it might just be a coincidence but I cannot say that with any authority! Thank you once again for reading our article and commenting!

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