“Bang bang from the closet walls, the schoolhouse halls, the shotgun’s loaded…”
Jesus fucking Christ. Honest to god, I did not expect any video to make me as downright pissed off and disgusted in the artist behind it as I was back a few months ago, when Pink released her abhorrent video for Fuckin’ Perfect. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. But here comes one that may have just aggravated me just a little bit further, on account of it hitting a little closer to home. I am talking about Chicago band Rise Against, an act I have followed and supported since the release of their third album, Siren Song for the Counter Culture, back in 2004. They have an impressive live show, and in my opinion made one of the most important videos of the 2000s in their 2006 clip, Ready to Fall. This, however, is something that I just cannot believe they have done.
Rise Against have cashed in on the deaths of GLBT youth. Yeah, I fucking said it and I’ll say it again: this band has been out of touch with their political roots ever since Bush got out of office – not that the two are connected, just using it as a time marker – and I feel that their later political works within their music are forced and contrived. This, from May’s Endgame, is a perfect example of it. In light of an epidemic of GLBT youth suicide within the U.S., and the It Gets Better project that arose in the light of it, Rise Against have tacked on their shameless “me-too”-ism to the issue with absolutely no connection to it whatsoever. A big, shiny pop-rock tune with a fucking children’s choir does absolutely nothing to help the cause, but a big shiny fucking video to go with it as well does even less.
In this video, three kids get bullied in the most generic, sub-Nelson Muntz way possible. Fucking KEEP-AWAY? Who does that anymore? The three kids then all go off and position themselves in the most cliched suicide spots possible – one goes to shoot herself, the other to hang himself, the other to jump off a bridge. Could this be any more of a scripted Hollywood melodrama? Rise Against have taken a real, serious and important political issue and turned it into a fucking soap opera. You know what really pisses me off, though? When Tim McIlrath sits in the middle of an empty classroom and rattles off the names of the teens. That is just downright pathetic to me, especially considering McIlrath couldn’t look more like a bored celebrity spokesperson if he tried.
The whole thing is meant to come across as “look how deep and meaningful we are. We truly care about this social issue.” What it does come across as, however, is the band skimming a newspaper, writing a song in 15 minutes, Googling the names of the kids and smacking a stadium rock chorus on top. Add in the glossy “life is hard” video and they’re really no fucking better than Pink at the end of the day. If anything, they’re worse.
I’d like to point out that I am a GLBT youth. This song and video are supposed to speak to me and send me an important message. So, Rise Against, exactly why do I not feel a fucking thing except anger when I watch this video? You know what makes the It Gets Better project so great? It’s videos of non-celebrities, strangers, everyday workers who are sharing their stories and continuing to recieve love and support within their GLBT communities. Why would I choose to listen to some rockstar millionaire try and preach down at me with this bullshit when I could listen to someone intelligent like Dan Savage or Councilman Joel Burns? REAL GLBT people with REAL, beautiful stories? As far as I’m concerned, Rise Against’s politics in the here and now don’t last beyond a website link and a newspaper headline.
You really want to show you care about gay suicide? Don’t make a fucking million-dollar video. Write to Congress if you’re in the States. Make a donation. Make a video (an amateur one, mind) or write about your own experiences with GLBT bullying. Don’t just put on a serious face and sit in an empty classroom pretending that you care. That’s the worst fucking thing you could do. It proves nothing. SAYING that something should be done and actually DOING something are completely different things.
Fuck you, Rise Against. Fuck you in the face.