Music and politics have always held hands in surprising and creative ways. There’s something about listening to a politics-fueled song or watching an intense, non-narrative but topic-based music video that often speaks decibels above reading a news story, at least for me. For example: a stream of carefully edited images set to the tension-building tune of Broken Social Scene grabs my attention. A video like this jars me from a jaded mindset to an instant awareness of just how fucked up the world is. And don’t we all need an artful reminder from time to time?
According to BSS’s own Kevin Drew, the world is “getting worse. Every day. It’s actually coming a head [sic] and it’s going to be very, very, very, very bad. Thus the need for all the distractions.” The distractions he speaks of include Facebook, Google, and other Internet sites, porn, violent video games and movies, beauty pageants, and even twirpy little Justin Bieber. And as for the very very bad…well that’s not so hard to gauge. From the BP oil spill to police brutality to children shooting each other at school, things are definitely far from wonderful.
A lover of BSS’s music, who prefers to remain anonymous, sent the band this video for their song “Meet Me in the Basement,” off the new album. The mash-up style video of mostly found-footage assaults your brain with a lightning-fast onslaught of words and pictures (perhaps mimicking the speed at which the Internet attacks as we scroll through it on a daily basis). It also includes footage from the recent G20 Summit in BSS’s homeland of Toronto, where storm-troopers squared off against rioters. Along the way, you’ll spot images of a bizarre children’s television show, the changing face of Michael Jackson, Obama looking nervous, a little pageant girl getting spray-tanned on Tyra’s show, protesters clashing with the armed police force, bombings, and men in Hazmat suits trying to suck up the oil.
If you pause every few seconds during the fast-paced montage, you’ll probably catch something you’d otherwise miss, such as:
“do you have a facebook?” / Frank Zappa / girls posing for Myspace / the morbidly obese / a multitude of other random things blowing up / pretty gross people having sex / McDonald’s / Che Guevera saying “put me on a t-shirt” / Calvin Klein ads / Jesus / war war war / Lady Gaga / children learning to shoot… The list goes on the more often you pause.
The always-political Pearl Jam has also offered a culturally relevant video, though they’ve taken a slightly less in-your-face approach. PJ’s trying to raise awareness about the oil spill, with a song and video called “Amongst the Waves”, along with a website, Pearl Jam; Oceans. Proceeds from sales of the video on iTunes will benefit Conservation International’s Marine Programs, and Pearl Jam is also working with Gulf Restoration Network to help support the recovery and mitigation efforts in the region.
The video evokes a deep appreciation and respect for the ocean by showing a father and daughter swimming, dolphins, surfers, and birds flying over the curling waves, interspliced with a live PJ show. At the end of the song a few haunting images of the spill, with the phrases “There is only one ocean for everyone” and “Look after it for present and future generations,” serve as a startling contrast to the beauty of the blue waves.
Pearl Jam also offers tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint, including encouraging renewable energy, finding out more about ocean acidification, becoming an ocean activist, and reducing your reliance on the oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear industries. While it’d be a challenge to accomplish all eleven tasks stated on their site, it’s reassuring that they, BSS, and other bands are trying to do good in a time when things are so so bad.