Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Youtube Analysis #3

I unfortunately cannot get the embedded code for this video but here is the link:


Off of the soundtrack for the 1998 Film Godzilla, “No Shelter” serves an ironic exploration on how consumerism both fuels the system and blinds individuals into believing that their existence is embodied and even made significant through the commodities they can purchase. The opening shot of the video depicts a few individuals strapped to some chairs while a group of business men look on, then go on to supervise the band itself as they begin to play their song. Their vocalist Zach De La Rocha then begins to introduce the concept of how power is structured within our society:

The main attraction, distraction
Got ya number than number than numb
Empty ya pockets son, they got you thinkin that
What ya need is what they sellin
Make you think that buyin is rebellin'. (1-5)

Here, Rage uses the Marxist idea of Commodity Fetishism to explain how “the main attraction” (1), whether that is the Godzilla movie or Rage against the Machine itself, is really a “distraction” (1) from the socio-economic subjugation of Capitalism. For Rage and Marx, the commodity can be anything and is inherently a fetish for the consumer because “[…] it appears to them as an objective character” (Marx 667) disconnected from the reality of worker subjugation. What isn’t taken into account are the labor power and raw materials needed for the creation of the commodity. So while the consumer may fawn over purchasing an Iphone or an Xbox 360 and in doing so express a seemingly individual desire to own such an item, it is the system that has them thinking “what ya need is what they sellin” (4) and not their own wish for such an item.

The consumer then becomes indoctrinated with an ideology that promotes and encourages the concept of personal ownership as the sole means of expressing one’s existence. And even if the consumer believes he or she is rebelling either by purchasing fair trade products or even a Rage album, making them believe that “buyin is rebellin” (5) is just another form of ideological control that the Capitalist system uses to create the illusion of freedom of choice. Since the finished product has “[…] absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom” (Marx 667), then it is clearly understood that no amount of seditious purchases can over throw the system as all commodities are connected to this exploitive system.

To further drive this point home, Rage end this stanza with the following proclamation: “From the theaters to malls on every shore/ The thin line between entertainment and war/ The frontline is everywhere, there be no shelter here” (6-8). Creating the image of theaters, malls, and other relating venues of consumerism on “every shore” (6) , it is evident that both the Capitalist social structure and ideology are completely globalized and a part of our very existence. If truly “the frontline is everywhere” (8), then nothing, not even a truly revolutionary Rage against the Machine song, can provide you with any sort of shelter from Capitalist oppression.

Works Cited:

Marx, Karl. "Capital". Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Rivkin, Julie and Ryan, Michael. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2004.

Rage against the Machine. "No Shelter". Godzilla The Album: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. 19 May 1998.

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