Monday, February 16, 2009

Heroism in Music:"Does That Make Me Crazy?" Possibly...

I was watching VH1 early this morning (5 am early) and what did I see? Gosh, a video! WOW! I didn't know they still showed those...


Anyway, I saw, for the first time, the video for Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." A song many of us have heard a million times by now (literally; I counted. Yes I did, shut up...). But now that the hype around this song has died down, I can stand to listen to it again, with fresh ears. Anyway, the timing could not have been better, a moment of serendipity, even...Because the lyrics not only contain an interesting bit about heroism, but the video itself combined with the lyrics and the theme could have been a trailer for the upcoming Watchmen movie.

Music aside (I love the music, it sounds inspired by Ennio Morricone, and I love his soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), lyrically I have a problem with the attitude of the song for the same reason I have a problem with Watchmen. But as a piece of art, again, like Watchmen, it is well-done. The lyrics could have been written by Alan Moore. And the video, well...Rorschach, anyone? (The video is clever, very well done.)

And this verse bears a closer look:
My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done
The last line there, "I can die when I'm done," really brings the Rorschach comparison home. But the whole verse reminds me of the attitude of The Venture Brothers (which riffs on popular comic book icons), where we see Johnny Quest, for example, as psychotic from all the "adventures" of his childhood (a foreshadowing of things to come for our "Princes of Venture"...). On this, I'm conflicted...As I write this, I have my Rorschach figure for meditation, to see both arguments. On the one hand, the idea of dragging children into exotic adventures where violence and death are common would probably send many children into therapy. On the other hand, the Western world are pretty kind to its children compared to what children throughout history have had to handle, and as a result, many children grow up naive and soft like marshmallows to the horrors of the world. Teen sidekicks have had a place in comics since the beginning; Robin and Bucky come to mind. The sidekick was meant as an access point for the kid audience, as well as a "softening" tool for dark characters like Batman. As "adolescent male power fantasies," there's also the idea of using these stories to toughen kids up for manhood. But at what point does it become ridiculous to drag a kid into battle...is it, say, World War II, hanging from a rocket, only to be blown to smithereens? (a la Bucky?). It's one thing for a child in the suburbs of post-war America to read these stories with a longing for adventure...it's another to see a child in the Middle East, or an African country, being kidnapped and forced into the military...

So maybe it's just a little crazy? Possibly...

Anyway, without further ado...

"Crazy"

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Possibly
[radio version]
probably
[album version]

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy
Probably

Uh, uh


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