Biography: When not writing, which is most of the time, Kick and Glide likes to cook and drink, especially wine and craft beer. Luckily he also likes cross-country skiing, swimming, and organic gardening. According to him the best things in life are family and friends. His favourite TV series is “The Wire.” Kick and Glide thinks that our most pressing global issue is the question of economic growth and its impact on the environment. We must find a balance.
I’ve been watching and musing over Avicii’s video, “Wake Me Up”: http://youtu.be/IcrbM1l_BoI. I like the music and the song and I have gone on to listen to other songs by Aloe Blacc who has a lovely voice, but this particular video left me with a disquieting feeling that won’t go away. That of course is the intent of the video; it also strives to exploit humanity’s millennium fears so we will shop for more stuff that we don’t really need.
I found the visual narrative very cynical and manipulative. It sets up the narrative by depicting rural people as plain, grey/beige, and devoid of style. It portrays them as suspicious, prejudicial, scared of outsiders, even hateful. The urban representatives on the other hand, the young girl and her older sister, have a purpose in life, to seek out a group and a place where they belong. They have more colour to their complexions, are made to look more attractive, thanks to better lighting and make-up, and are far better dressed. Avicii uses this clichéd stereotype as a wedge to divide rural from urban at a time when we should be doing the exact opposite. (Unless you fancy eating faux meat grown in a lab.) If the “other” in this video were black, or Jewish, or gay, there would be hell to pay, but rural folk, the new minority, seem to be fair game to elite urban marketers.
Far more problematic for me is how they use the Avicii logo, the two inverted triangles, to sell Brand Avicci, by putting it on the skin of people, including children, in the form of a Henna tattoo. Yes, Henna does wash off, nevertheless, this is in fact the commodification of the individual, of young people, and by extension a particular demographic, to promote Avicii’s corporate brand which they have already successfully marketed to larger corporations like Coca Cola. I have no objections to the use of tattoos as individual expression, but when they are used to create group identity, then exploited to sell product, I find that socially problematic.
Continuing with the visual narrative (which has nothing to do with the song) the two actors in the video, representing a young hip urban demographic, using the identifying henna “mark”, find their tribe and join them at a modern stadium concert. Keeping in mind the above analysis, this concert takes on the dimensions of a mass rally with implications that go beyond music, fun and dance. It is ironic, and not entirely coincidental, that the woman in the video is wearing a military style jacket. So far they are only selling consumer goods, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how this captured market can be used to sell ideas, including city=good / country=bad, young=good / old=bad. These simplistic dichotomies copy a trend in current politics that says you are either with us or you are against us.
I keeping thinking of a prairie farmer in her $250,000.00 combine, tracking the commodity prices for wheat on her tablet. Where does she fit into Avicii’s rural stereotype? I repeat, for emphasis, with the world population just shy of 9,000,000,000,000 do you really want to piss-off rural folk? The next time you meet a farmer give her a big hug.
Wake me up to what exactly? That as an individual I don’t exist unless I identify with a corporate brand like Avicii? Enjoy the music, but don’t drink the kool-aid.