The Freelance Mentalists.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
 
These Aliens ain't gonna fall for love, man. If we humans were truly dedicated to the whole universal domination deal we would’ve nailed it by now. It's our humanity that's held us back, cuz we got way too wound up with religion and war and feudalism and yes, love, to ever get it together enough to go space invading. And that's unlikely to change in the foreseeable, we're regressing right now, so the chances of us ever getting unified enough to achieve something as cataclysmic as inter-planetary conquest are pretty much nil. And when I say unified, I'm not talking the O'Jays utopian Unity, I'm talking Triumph of the Will-ing, Pyramid construct-ing, Jonestown breakfast-ing type togetherness. A mindless, fascistic devotion to achieving something ostensibly beyond ourselves, or at the very least the ability to impose the semblance of such a state upon all the other inhabitants of our bio-sphere. The Aliens didn't get here by singing, or caring much for culture beyond its most base and utilitarian elements. They got here by corralling their resources and focussing on the end goal. Trans-galaxial warfare ain't no picnic, ok?
I think these Aliens are gonna be looking for some hint that we humans might be more useful alive than dead, as slaves or whatever, rather than just raping our planet for its raw resources (our ability to do just that may already have impressed them enough to give us a run in the first place.) So I figure we hit 'em with our best shot, our most technologically advanced, inhuman (=Alien) anthem of recent times. Cuz to justify humanity's continuing existence doesn't necessarily mean to demonstrate what we consider to be the most valuable traits of humanity, but in this instance primarily our ability to transcend them. So rather than show our capacity for forgiveness, reflection, reason, or whatever other 'enlightened' aspects of our character we've grown fond of, we need to stress our more militant and servile traits to let the Aliens deem us useful. Then maybe we can whack 'em when their backs are turned, using guile, cunning and subterfuge.
Regardless, the song which most powerfully combines these sentiments must be Elephant Man's Bun Bad Mind. The old testament religiosity that is the songs bedrock has got to appeal to the Aliens, combining as it does fierce devotion ('Make a joyful noise unto the Lord') with the kind of combative instincts that might prove useful in battle ('Every weapon that rise against me shall fall'). In addition there's a refreshing blankness to the whole affair, and us and them approach which makes humans look both malevolent and malleable ('Rebuke them, rebuke them, them no like we and we no like them'). So it looks like a lock to the Aliens: convince them you're the Lord (which, having descended from the heavens, shouldn't be overly difficult); and bam, instant army.
Then there's the feel. Bun Bad Mind is subtlety's arch nemesis. There's a bed of blaring synthesised carnival horns that make like a 4am fire alarm: impossible to ignore, and imploring you to move. The vocals are similarly agitated, multi-tracked, mostly tuneless screeching that is nevertheless packed with that nutritious energy that sends you happily off to battle. As for the inhumanity, he sounds like a freaking alien to begin with: manic, inexplicable and dangerous; yet with an intensity and animalism that render him utterly irresistible. A perfect field-marshal for the post-Alien generation. If they take his pronouncements, and the song, at face value we'll look like a race of imbeciles, insanely committed, yet once corralled so docile and contented as to be an ideal acquisition. Bun Bad Mind relates to other pop music, past or present the same way Don King relates to other humans. The can just about co-exist, but you'd be hard pressed to confuse to the two. We simply cannot reveal the tangled web of hurt feelings, weird sex and cold murder that make up contemporary pop. They'll think we're wimps, kinks or way too tough, and off us in an instant. What we need to focus on is deception. With Ele's outstanding oddness on our side they'll never see the rebellion coming.
 
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