Numb by Linkin Park: where’s the dad?

I love this music video by Linkin Park. It was filmed in Prague, which is in the Czech Republic. There is a lot of Christian imagery from the city that the video incorporates. For example, the video opens with a young woman standing on a very famous bridge, called the Charles Bridge. This bridge is lined with 30 statues of Christian saints. Later in the video, she is sketching the statue of St. Anne, who is Mary’s mother.

Other observations: the young woman is angry and sad, she’s struggling in school, she’s an artist, she cuts herself, the mom is frustrated at her, the dad is absent. Maybe the young woman feels “caught in the undertow” of her mother’s choice to live without her dad. Kids forced to live without their dads, forced to ignore that half of themselves, might relate to this diagram:

mothers life after divorce

Living like that makes you feel kinda numb after a while.

The video opens with the young woman looking down while on the bridge, and it closes with her looking down after running inside the Church. Not sure what that means, but one explanation may be that the Church is not doing enough to help her get connected to her roots, not doing enough to defend her emotional needs to be embedded in her own intact family.

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So after writing all that, I decided to look up the individual band members for some insight into their personal lives. Turns out that one of the co-authors of the song, Chester Bennington, is a child of divorce and a victim of sexual abuse. He’s the blonde singer in the video:

Bennington’s parents divorced when he was 11 years old and his father gained custody of him. After the divorce, Bennington started abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD. He eventually overcame his drug addiction, and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews. During a Linkin Park tour, he started heavily drinking but claimed to have quit in 2011, noting, “I just don’t want to be that person anymore.”

In an interview, Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until age 13. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. Later, he revealed the abuser’s identity to his father, but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.

At the age of 17, Bennington moved in with his mother and was banned from leaving the house when his mother discovered his drug activity. He worked at a Burger King and used his money for cocaine and crystal meth before starting his career as a professional musician. He was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said, “I was knocked around like a rag doll at school for being skinny and looking different.”

Considering that the sexual abuse continued after the divorce, and that Chester was living with his dad, I wonder if the abuser was a friend of the dad. I wonder what the circumstances were surrounding Chester’s dad getting custody. I am comfortable saying that Numb addresses fractured family structures. It appears that Linkin Park addresses sexual abuse in another video, Crawling. Check it out and see if you agree.

Lyrics for Numb are available here.

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