Washington DC

Land of Confusion by Genesis

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They say the danger's gone away
But I can see the fires still alight
They're burning into the night Read full Lyrics
Welcome to How To Make An Ass-Kicking Video 101. Today's lesson is Genesis' "Land of Confusion." Tomorrow's lesson will also be Genesis' "Land of Confusion." In fact, "Land of Confusion" by Genesis will be pretty much the whole course. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was very nice, thank you, and we know we have to pay our respects since the man's shuffled off this mortal coil. Yes, Madonna's videos have certainly pushed the envelope. But that envelope was stolen, run away with, and nailed to the wall by Genesis in 1987. That's it. You might as well smash your TV with a sledgehammer after seeing the video once, because you will never see another music video this epic. Ever.

South façade of the White House, Washington D.C.South façade of the White House, Washington D.C.
And in case you were wondering, Where is the place for this song? Well, the place is Washington D.C., USA.

And it was appropriate in 1987, 1988, 1989... all the way up to right now. "Land of Confusion" was about the United States' inauguration as a global empire and world dictator and, by golly, the US is still the world dictator at the time of this writing. If that changes, hang a lampshade and move on. But until then, the fact that the US spends more on military than the entire rest of the world combined kind of puts the record away. The US is the tank, it is the bomb, it is the muscle, it is the world's cop, and quite a lot of the world wants it that way, even if most of the world doesn't.

The video was, of course, produced by British TV's Spitting Image, which arguably had greater success with this video than with their own TV show. Who was in it? You'd be better off asking "Who wasn't in it?" Amongst the many public figures portrayed by puppets or other symbolism, we find Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Benito Mussolini, Ayatollah Khomeini, Mikhail Gorbachev, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, Richard Nixon, Leonard Nimoy, Bob Hope, Sylvester Stallone, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Alan Greenspan, Frank Sinatra, Joan Rivers, Pope John Paul II, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Clint Eastwood, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Jane Fonda, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth, Stephen King, Hulk Hogan, Bill Cosby, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elton John, and Prince Philip.

Genesis with their puppet avatars on the "Land Of Confusion" singleGenesis with their puppet avatars on the "Land Of Confusion" single
That's about half the cast. You can watch the video a dozen times and still find something new that you missed before. It's full of Easter eggs, in-jokes, references, shout-outs, and lyrical and visual winks. Including a Rubik's cube, Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey, "We Are the World," Bedtime for Bonzo, Inner Sanctum, Apocalypse Now, Jurassic Park, "A Day In The Life," Chariots of Fire, Planet of the Apes, Superman, The Godfather, 1984, The Blues Brothers, Wallace and Gromit, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Land of the Lost, Tarzan, and The Shining.

By the way, there's this crazy rumor about this band supposedly called "Disturbed" who allegedly did a cover of this song and an accompanying video. If you ever encounter anyone claiming that such a ridiculous thing ever happened, we recommend walloping that person over the head with something hard until they stop talking.

Pete Trbovich
March 6, 2011
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