So there I was, sitting passively in Johnson and Hardwick’s cafeteria, eating my ham and cheese omelet in silence. Above me loomed a new flat screen television blaring the music videos of the latest bands of the week. It would have been nice if the channel was on CNN, as it’s probably a more educational choice for the college community.
Not a big fan of music television, I only gave it a glance. But something on the screen caught my eye. It was My Chemical Romance’s new single, “Ghost of You,” and it was set in an old-time United Service Organizations show. As I watched the video unfold, my interest shifted to disdain.
The video flashes between the band performing at the USO dance, lounging in a bar and then storming the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, where he and his fellow band members get shot. Throughout this, the lead singer is wailing his banal lyrics, even during the attack.
I could not finish my breakfast because I was sick to my stomach. How dare this cliche, whiny emo band exploit a horrific occurrence in history as entertainment. Sure, there have been movies that document World War II and include graphic depictions of its reality. But this is a different media. This music video is melodrama at its finest, paired with lyrics that do not pertain to D-Day. What would a World War II veteran think of the video?
This isn’t the only tactless video from My Chemical Romance. During the video for “Helena,” the lead singer is a funeral preacher with the people in attendance singing and dancing around a coffin. The band clearly enjoys being tacky and offensive. The videos try to impress the select audience that watches music television, but they end up being overly offensive.
It’s fine that the song concerns death and internal pain – that is the prerogative of the artists. Yet they didn’t have to pick D-Day as a subject for the video. My grandfather was a fighter pilot during World War II and personally knew people who died. MCR’s subject matter is irreverent and out-of-line.
Green Day has a similar subject matter for the video “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” which is set during the current Iraq conflict. While not the most pleasant of videos, it is more tasteful and has a clear story around actors and not the band itself. Since Green Day’s album American Idiot is in protest of the affairs in which our country is involved, it makes more sense then MCR’s video.
Despite their poor choices of music video topics, bands have the right to make any type of video they desire. That’s the beauty of art. Even I can admit they are attractively filmed videos. The individual shots are lined up well, the colors work in the context of the videos (duller colors to show the ‘pain’ they are experiencing), the editing is tight and they clearly have large filming budgets.
However, MCR’s music quality doesn’t match the technical beauty of the videos – they sound like every other band in the genre.
Not to be misunderstood; I am completely in support of pushing the envelope of creative license. Power to artists who do so! Yet even for the most radical of musicians, there is a boundary line of respect. The subject matter of “Ghost of You” is a repugnant way of conveying My Chemical Romance’s lyrical messages. The band needs to realize that despite worthy attempts to create moving and controversial videos, without taste and respect, they will be nothing but a carbon copy of all the other acts. Nice try kids.
Michelle Mogavero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.