The opening shot of Alexey Terekhov's "Capital" features a wealthy couple under a sparkling chandelier enjoying their new remote-controlled television. It doesn't just look like a magazine ad from the 50's, in extremely fine-print under the picture there is actually a paragraph espousing the "French provincial" styling and $575 price tag of the set. Like every frame of this hyper-active video, it's intricately constructed and full of meaning.
Through some static on screen we watch men pour money into a piggy bank, illuminated by bright lights from behind. We'll soon see where all that money is going, but above the TV, on the wall of the living room, there is also a strategically placed painting. It's Napoleon Bonaparte sitting on his high-horse after a conquering battle - the ultimate symbol of pride, greed and lust for power. The combination of the bank and Napoleon forms a central argument in the video, but the target here is something more than just capitalism or imperialism.
The singer rides a constantly morphing animal, looking like Shiva while delivering lines like "I eat gold bricks for lunch" (translated). The imagery is dense, but there is astonishing attention to continuity and relevancy in the details. The necklace of Shiva - which protects from death - is here made of oil wells and nuclear symbols. The "all-seeing" eye is a clock with roman numerals. There are 7 heads on the singer, 7 animals which he rides and 7 types of guitars he plays. There are also 7 world leaders implicated in the video's satirical rant.
Six of them are clearly identified with pseudo-religious iconic posters (with the two Kims bunched together), but the elephant in the room is George W. - here disguised as the singer himself parading around the world in his blue suit and red tie. His heart is a piggy bank which can never be filled, and his guitar features images of the Madonna. These are men who have become gods in their own minds (though the singer calls them "Beelzebub"). From the top of this monster spews black oil, Cuban cigars and atomic bombs - not to mention the Tower of Babel.
In a way each of the world leaders mentioned seek to build their own babel (which also means "confusion"), as they hoard the world's resources to fulfill individual illusions of grandeur. They do so under the guise of economic freedom and global unity, but in reality all they really want is to own more. At one point Pieter Brueghal's famous 1563 painting of Babel is juxtaposed against skyscrapers in New York. Like that Biblical story, our modern monuments to power and "capital" have been destroyed by our own negligence.
The video clearly connects problems in one part of the world with problems everywhere else. A crazy dictator in Iraq doesn't rise to power completely on his own, and thus just as one hand of the singer strums a guitar, one promises freedom and yet another holds up Saddam's rifle. When we finally do arrive at "Babelon" (or Babylon), it's a chaotic mess filled with leftovers of war, environmental ignorance and social depravity. But is there just one person, country or ideology to blame for all of it? "Moscow" is written on an American dollar and Bush seems to be leading this brigade around the world, but each of these world leaders have their own harmful philosophies motivated by their own personal egos.
In 1867 Karl Marx wrote a powerful critique of capitalism called "Capital," in which he criticized the economic system for alienating and exploiting the working class. But most of the men implicated in this video aren't actually running capitalist societies - though all of them are subject to Marx's attack. Instead they hide behind big words like "democracy" to in fact pursue dreams of Napoleonic fame.
The video seems to suggest an aversion towards globalism with its crazy 7-headed conglomerate shilling horrible products and ideas from every corner of the earth. But the real problem is any one person, or group of people, attempting to force a single ideology on the billions of unique humans that live on this planet. In the finale the piggy bank-heart is destroyed and put back in the hands of the television viewer - the consumer. Having individual choice and spending money is OK - as long as we make educated decisions.