Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Soldiering On: Green Day "Working Class Hero"

Candles burning amidst barbed wire...

Green Day "Working Class Hero"

dir. by Sam Bayer

From clenched fists to restrained tears, this is a video boiling with emotion - suppressed into black and white where it wants color. Director Sam Bayer and Green Day take Lennon's working class themes and apply it to the genocide in Darfur; to the universal struggle for freedom and expression. The boys aren't after your sympathy - sympathy is too easy - but more crucially your empathy. Bayer uses a deep focus on realistic portraits to give a face to the accompanying facts and statistics. People aren't just being killed, this specific man's father was murdered in front of him. A woman was raped next to her dead husband's body, citizens are hunted like rabbits and the Sudanese live in fear of making a sound - these are the witnesses. These people tell their stories not simply for help, but for understanding above all else.

Green Day both mock and embrace the pathos of the title, seeing it as an embodiment of the false American ideal as well as the hope for future change. The song trudges along like an army march, but the the chorus gains steam each time it's repeated. With a flag hanging solemnly behind them, Billie Armstrong and company challenge the "working class" of America to break through the walls of society which box them in, to fight for something real. The horror of Darfur demands immediate action, but it also presents an opportunity for millions around the world to step up and don the proverbial cape - to actually become heroes. In the process the artist's hope we might escape the communal self-doubt which terrorizes the world and fuels hate crimes in the first place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i want to buy the "Instant Karma" CD but i am not sure where i can get it (unedited if there is swearing) i remember when our history teacher told us about the genocide in Darfur. i thought that it was someone famous' duty to speak about it and try to help. then, a few days later, i got on Green Day's website and saw that that was exactly what they have done. i started to listen to Green Day when American Idiot was released and then, within a year i had all of their CDs. i would like to thank Green Day for helping to raise awareness on this outrage. this is terrible. and i would like to tell the blog author that there was an error in the spelling of Billie Joe Armstrong's first name. it is Billie Joe. not Billie.

Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie