Filled With Rich Detail, This Music Video Plays on a Loop to Reflect the Cycle of Gun Violence

Kesha teams with her brother and McCann to get the vote out

New music video shows the cycle of gun violence. Sage Music on Vevo
Headshot of Doug Zanger

The Rube Goldberg machine has been a staple of light-hearted music videos and ads. However, Kesha, working with her younger brother Sage Sebert and on-the-rise rapper Chika, used the technique for very different reasons—and to stunning effect— to highlight the scourge of gun violence and encourage people to vote in this year’s midterm elections.

Created by McCann in partnership with the students leading March for Our Lives and Mill+, “Safe,” is an incredibly powerful way of unpacking the human toll that gun violence has in America, especially in schools.

What starts as a typical day at school suddenly turns chaotic as a hail of gunfire erupts in slow motion. The camera follows a pathway of teachers pushing students into classrooms, machines symbolizing the predictable “thoughts and prayers” that occur after shootings, memorials of victims (from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Pulse nightclub shootings, and everyday gun violence in Chicago), posters imploring change and more.

What’s most interesting about the video is that it doesn’t play just once but three times. While each version is essentially the same, there are added elements that tell a more specific story. One version includes the names of victims and in each. In each iteration, posters that drop from the ceilings become more direct in demanding action by politicians and imploring people to vote.

Throughout the video, the new track entitled “Safe,” written by Sebert, a high school senior at the time and in response to the Parkland shooting, provides a sobering score with powerful lyrics (shown as subtitles in the third version of the video) to open:

In a mad man’s world
Happens every day
I don’t understand
Why the rules can’t change
I don’t wanna be a moment of silence
I don’t wanna be an early grave
When I’m walking through the halls
I don’t wanna be brave
I just wanna be safe

According to the Brady Center, there are 96 gun-related deaths each day in America and, in one year, close to 125,000 people in the country are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, unintentional shootings or by police intervention.


Agency: McCann NY
Creatives: André De Castro & Nick Larson
Producer: Gaby Levy
Chief Creative Officers: Sean Bryan, Tom Murphy
Creative Advisor: Joyce King Thomas
Chief Production Officer: Nathy Aviram
Global Creative Chairman: Rob Reilly
ECDs: Susan Young, Daniela Vojta
President, McCann NY: Devika Bulchandani
Chief Communications Officer: Jeremy Miller
Senior Social Strategist: Jordan Berger

Production: Mill+
Director: Ben Smith
Executive Producers: Ian Bearce & Christina Thompson
Producer: Tia Perkins
Production Coordinators: Andrew Hollingsworth & Danika Casas
Shoot Supervisor: Kyle Cody

Editorial: The Mill
Editor: Ryan McKenna
Edit Assist: Matthew Campbell

VFX Production: The Mill
Executive Producer: Christina Thompson
Producer: Grace Tober
Line Producer: Roshni Kakas
Production Coordinator: Umesh Chand
Chief Creative Officer: Angus Kneale
Creative Director: Ben Smith
Shoot Supervisor: Kyle Cody
2D Lead Artists: Kyle Cody, Venuprasath D
3D Lead Artist: Christian Nielsen
2D Artist: Molly Intersimone, Badarinath Chinimilli, Prasanna Bhatt, Rajeshkumar K
3D Artist: Tim Kim, Ryan Federman, Todd Akita, Tighe Rzankowski, Dave Barosin, Weicheih Yu, Sudakshina Sridharan, Vittal Kuntla, Fazal Khan, Giri Prasath S, Raj Kumar M, Sunil MM, Sendil Kumar J
Animation: Scott McGinley, Alex Allain, John Wilson
Design: Clemens den Exter
Motion Graphics: Laura Nash and Wendy Eduarte
Asset Supervisor: Anish Mohan
Tracking Supervisor: Senthil Murugan Balasundaram
Colorist: Mikey Rossiter

Audio Post Production: Sound Lounge
Sound Designer: Marshall Grupp
Foley: Alchemy Post Sound
Audio Mixer: Tom Jucarone
Senior Producer, Audio: Becca Falborn

Music supervised by Rob Kaplan and Aaron Mercer from Wool & Tusk

“Safe” Track:
Produced and Engineered by Drew Pearson
Mixed by Jon Castelli
Engineer for Mix by Ingmar Carlson
Mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge, NY
Assisted by Chris Allgood
Written by Kesha, Sage, Chika, Pebe Sebert, and Drew Pearson
Chika vocals recorded by Mitch Davis at Pull Music
Executive Produced by Lagan Sebert and Hampton Howerton for Vector Management
Digital Marketing, Jon Romero for Vector Management.
Kesha appears courtesy of Kemosabe Records/RCA Records

Client (MFOL):
Sarah Chadwick: March For Our Lives project strategist and coordinator
Sofie Whitney : March For Our Lives project strategist and coordinator
Ryan Deitsch: March For Our Lives Content Creator
Jackie Corin: National Outreach Director
Matt Deitsch: Chief Strategist

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@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.