Saturday, May 21, 2011
Backup Dancers From Hell: Green Day - “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
We start out with the band in some hoopty of a car, which has just broken down on a lonely stretch of highway that looks like it might be West Texas or Santa Monica. Instead of doing something simple like call their management people for some assistance, they decide to hoof it down the road and see what happens. (These were probably the same thoughts had by people who eventually knocked on Jeffrey Dahmer’s door.)
Anyway, walk they do, just as the music conveniently starts. It soon becomes clear that they aren’t really on location, instead utilizing film played on the wall behind them, so this is going to be more about symbolism than realism, which could also apply to Billie Joe’s overdependence on excessive eyeliner. Anyway, Billie Joe kicks off the singing and assumes a passive-aggressive stance by folding his arms as he stomps along.
Wherever we’re pretending that we are, it’s not a happy place. Derelict homes and abandoned cars abound. (One woman is standing by a mailbox like it’s the only thing she’s got left in the world, which is sad and someone should help her, but the boys are on a schedule and keep moving.) There’s lots of dust and litter blowing around in the air, although some of the jetsam is actually caused by the grainy stock of the film they are using. I would not be surprised if Toto sailed past clutching a chew toy.
The other two guys in the band, Mike and Tre, don’t have anything to do other than walk alongside Billie Joe while he emotes about abandonment and improper use of cell phones. At first the two of them are fine actors, really looking like they are walking down a dusty street. But you can tell they get bored with this after a while, since you can only walk so many different ways. By the end of it, both of them are clearly waiting for Billie Joe to shut the hell up.
A related side note: Billie Joe keeps hollering that “I walk alone”, but dude, Mike and Tre are right there, so it’s kind of rude to diss them like that. (In fact, there’s a brief shot of Mike giving Tre a friendly hug, so you know they had each other’s back while Billie Joe was making such a fuss about nobody else being there.)
So they all keep walking down that road that is really a stage, and we are treated to more destitute imagery and props. We have rusting gas pumps, cracked oil barrels, falling-down shacks, a vulture or two, and David Hasselhoff. It’s interesting from a “wow, I better hang on to my job” perspective, but after a while, there’s only so much despair and dust you can watch scroll by without getting a little restless.
Eventually, somebody recognizes the quality control aspect, and we cut to the band performing. Granted, they’ve set up in yet another shack on the soundstage, but at least it’s something new. And some clever little fellow has strung up some Christmas lights, making things rather festive despite the blowing debris getting lodged in cracks of various kinds. They jam for a bit, and then we go back outside.
And we’re on another street, but at least we’re in a city of some kind. The quality of life hasn’t really improved, because no one is wearing couture and these people must not have jobs if they can stand around idly and stare at the camera. (There’s one guy that’s ultra creepy, looking like he just wandered off the set of “Zombies For Breakfast, Part II: The Revenge of the Kardashians”.)
Back to the shack so the band can rock some more, and they do so with gusto. (Why does Mike stand like that when he’s really strumming away at his guitar? It certainly doesn’t look very comfortable, and you’d think there would be numbness and endurance issues. And why does Billie Joe look at the ceiling so much? What’s going on up there?)
And that’s pretty much how it goes for a while. Shots of the band banging, and then shots of poor people not having anything. It does eventually become nightfall out on those streets, which is a little more soothing, since people don’t look as dirty and unkempt in the dark. And at least the cars seem to be working on this latest street, which is definitely an improvement. But it still looks like Times Square before Mickey Mouse’s daddy took over.
Just before we end, the band goes into an extended little jam that is WAY longer than the radio single, which gives all of them ample opportunity to rock out with their bad selves and make that exciting music that causes old people to wince and offer a beseeching prayer to anybody up there that’s listening. Then the band finishes and they leave the stage to go wash the fake dust off and look for tacos…
Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.