Single Review: Green Day “American Idiot”

American Idiot
Album: American Idiot
Year: 2004

Liberals are arrogant. Consertatives are self-righteous. After Election Day, those insults and many others were thrown across on these boards and many others throughout the Internet.
However, name-calling only polarizes both sides even more. It also reinforces each sides’ stereotype of the other

The lead single “American Idiot,” Green Day’s concept album surrounding the main character Jesus of Suburbia, exemplifies the polarization felt on the Democrat side. In it, Jesus is angry at the antagonstic direction the United States is headed (“Don’t wanna be an American idiot/Don’t want a nation under the new mania/And can you hear the sound of hysteria?/The subliminal mindfuck America”).

In the chorus, he feels that the U.S. is edgy and people living here don’t really care which way. He thinks a constant sense of fear is how Americans are being taught to live. However, he also feels isolated because of his opposite point of view. (“Welcome to a new kind of tension/All across the alienation/Everything isn’t meant to be okay….We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow/For that’s enough to argue”).

The second verse takes a provocative and extreme turn. Disillusioned, he shouts “maybe I’m the faggot America/I’m not a part of the redneck agenda/Now everyone do the propaganda/and sing along in the age of paranoia”). Regardless of the party he supports, the name-calling and stereotyping derails an otherwise emotional rant. It’s a loaded lyric which should be phrased in a different manner. Green Day are trying to make a point about how alienated they feel. Ironically, by using “redneck agenda” they are using the same polarizing tactics as the consertatives to invalidate the the other sides’ opinions. (Note: I feel Democrats do the same thing, too. I’m not just limiting it to the Republican Party).

In the third verse, Jesus feels the media is partly the blame for the polarization. Due to less media outlets expressing points of views, he feels the media is helping push the conservative agenda along (“Don’t wanna be an American idiot/One nation controlled by the media/Information age of hysteria/It’s calling out to idiot America”). Perhaps the most true and accurate verse, Green Day makes their points best in this section. With the recent pulling of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and controversy about the NFL ‘Desperate Housewives’ promo, it seems like the American media is obsessed with sensationalism more than ever. It also seems like the FCC may stifle speech by censoring the networks and putting fear into them if they show anything a minority complains about.

Green Day chose the characters’ name as Jesus, which speaks volumes although it is cliche. It lends itself to one possible interpretations: people are twisting the Bible to fit their point of view despite the fact it may mean another thing entirely and the disaffected Jesus feels alienated.


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