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Vid: "Attention: Gotham City, There Is A War Going On For Your Mind"
Vidder: [livejournal.com profile] cherryice
Fandom: Batman: The Dark Knight
Song: Flobots’ "There's a War Going On for Your Mind"
Link: http://cherryice.livejournal.com/233207.html?view=1547255#t1547255
Commentary: [personal profile] zephyrprince


One thing that I’ll say from the outset here, is that I love vid_commentary for its instructions that viewer commentaries should be about what a vid means to us as viewers, not what we think it means to its creator. I think my last commentary may have been wildly divergent from the author’s intention and this one may also be different, but I think that’s part of the fun especially for this round in which we’re pairing viewers with creators. Plus, it seems to me that the point of viding is to bring one’s own perspective to a piece of extant so it’s a neat meta-ish opportunity for viewers to bring their own perspective to a vid, layering on the meaning while also promoting a particular commentary on meaning itself!

“Attention: Gotham City” to me is not about Batman or about the Joker or Two-Face though they all appear in the vid,

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but rather about a third party that plays a major role in The Dark Knight but still largely goes unnoticed – the citizens of Gotham City.

[livejournal.com profile] cherryice’s tight cutting of the images in this relatively short vid underscore this perspective first and foremost by seeking to give us the perspectives of the mass group of people experiencing the terror that unfolds in their city throughout the film. This also creates an affect that differs from many vids, which match slightly longer clips more closely with individual lyrical lines. This also affected the way I chose to do my commentary, paying less close attention to the linear development of each individual stanza and looking more at the larger affects on the group.

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The cutting also meshes particularly well with the non-traditional genre of the song. The Flobots vocalist is not singing nor, I would say, rapping. I would locate this song somewhere in the realm of spoken word or perhaps just poetry read over accompaniment, and, as a Fan of Color, I particularly appreciate the experimentation that this vid exhibits as it results from a genre steeped in of Color American musical history and comes from a band with both Latino and Black members.

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Batman

The movie [livejournal.com profile] cherryice is working from already makes clear how the Joker and Two-Face are causing terror in the populace, but perhaps the biggest challenge for the vid was to disentangle the viewer from their identification with Batman as the original narrative’s protagonist and “good guy.” This is done a couple of ways. First, Bruce is identified as a “covergirl cutout” at 00:25 highlighting his wealth and his place (investment?) in the media system that is delivering the news of the film’s shocking events to the people as they unfold. These “cutouts” are then said to “throw up popup ads throw up pop-up ads infecting victims with silicone shrapnel infecting victims with silicone shrapnel,” which might not be specifically applicable, clearly suggests harm to innocent bystanders. Second, at 00:31, Batman is identified as a deployed paratrooper as he leaps off a building, once again showing him as being inside the system, but this time specifically referencing the governmental system. A similar affect is achieved by placing the image of the Batmobile over the “Nascar chariots” in the line “Post-production debutantes pursue you in Nascar chariots” at 00:37, as well as by including Bruce with Dent and Gordon as “industry insiders.” I particularly like the moment in which both the Joker and Batman are shown over the phrase “professional wrestlers” poking fun at the absurd costumes both wear as well as calling attention to the link between what they do and entertainment media.

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The coupe de grâce, however, is the destruction of the Bat-signal and the Batman symbol in the finale of the vid, as the Flobots vocalist announces that there is a “war going on for your mind” one last time.

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The Joker

As mentioned, the film already makes it clear that the Joker is the enemy of the people so there isn’t as much work to be done here positioning him as such. Two things, I did particularly like though was his positioning as a “professional wrestler” (see above) and the prod at the Joker’s makeup with the line “…and bleed massacre into holy water supplies” at 00:36.

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The “Culture Industry”

The Culture Industry is a term first proposed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno of the Frankfurt School, a neo-Marxist sociology and philosophy school considered today to be a major pillar of European critical theory. In their essay “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," the pair explored the ways in which the nascent media industry enables the few to manipulate the many. Although, today, many media theorists might suggest that Horkheimer and Adorno go too far in their criticism by not leaving enough room for the participation of individuals in the making of meaning in the media they consume (as we do in fandom in a particularly visible way), this song and this vid draw on the idea of the Culture Industry in an important intervention into the narrative of The Dark Knight on behalf of the people. Almost every line of the lyrics motion to this effect, but particularly noticeable moments include “media mavens,” “online magazine racks,” “cover girl cutouts,” “popup ads,” “now it’s raining pornography,” “Post-production debutantes,” “Nascar chariots,” “industry insiders,” and “flash logos.”

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The People

The footage compiled of actual Gotham citizens and deployed in this vid is impressive particularly given the lack of screen time they have in the film overall. This is crucial, of course, as the “you” in the repeated phrase, “there is a war going on for your minds” is the common citizen.

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Particularly noteworthy are the images from the scene towards the end of the film in which the Joker attempts to turn the citizens against themselves by forcing them to choose between their own deaths or that of another group.

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Finally, I would like to end with the title of the vid, which cements my reading of it. Rather than naming the piece, “There’s A War Going On For Your Mind” after the Flobots song, [livejournal.com profile] cherryice calls it, “Attention: Gotham City, There Is A War Going On For Your Mind,” positioning the vidder as the Flobots voice and “the insurgents” referenced at the end of the track and pointing to an audience of not only the people of Gotham but the audience of The Dark Knight , whom we hope will be more attentive to and ask more questions about the plight of the common person rather than focusing solely on the most powerful players next time we watch the film.

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Full Lyrics of There's A War Going On For Your Mind by Flobots

There's a war going on for your mind
Media mavens mount surgical strikes from trapper keeper collages and online magazine racks
Cover girl cutouts throw up pop-up ads
Infecting victims with silicone shrapnel
Worldwide passenger pigeons deploy paratroopers
Now it's raining pornography
Lovers take shelter
Post-production debutantes pursue you in nascar chariots
They construct ransom letters from biblical passages and bleed mascara into holy water supplies

There's a war going on for your mind
Industry insiders slang test tube babies to corporate crackheads
They flash logos and blast ghettos
Their embroidered neckties say "stop snitchin'"
Conscious rappers and whistleblowers get stitches made of acupuncture needles and marionette strings

There is a war going on for your mind
Professional wrestlers and vice presidents want you to believe them
The desert sky is their bluescreen
They superimpose explosions
They shout at you
"pay no attention to the men behind the barbed curtain
Nor the craters beneath the draped flags
Those hoods are there for your protection
And meteors these days are the size of corpses

There's a war going on for your mind
We are the insurgents
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