The only thing more embarrassing than ‘Living The Dream’ is the music video it’s been paired with.
With the recent release of a second Greatest Hits volume, Five Finger Death Punch have packaged in a new song, ‘Living The Dream.’ Obviously, it sounds like Five Finger Death Punch, meaning that it’s incredibly mundane; the lowest common denominator of modern hard rock and groove metal. But we aren’t here to talk about that. Instead, I want to focus on what the band’s founder and guitarist, Zoltan Bathory, stated with the release of the music video for ‘Living The Dream‘:
“America is a beautiful idea that draws immigrants like myself from all over the world to the promised land of equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This idea is now under siege and certain events are starting to remind me of the things many of us came here to escape… It’s not a “left against right” problem but an evolutionary problem. The growing pains of a civilization that without the necessary spiritual enlightenment, arrived a bit early to a level of technology where everyone is connected. The good news is that now everyone has a voice. The bad news is that now everyone has a voice. So we are living in the manipulators’ paradise, where liars and hypocrites run unscathed, the news are just opinions, politics are a blood sport, and facts are determined by consensus instead of the truth. We as artists, however, have a unique opportunity to portray and ridicule the absurd to prevent it from becoming reality.”
If you read that and thought ‘Living The Dream‘ would be apolitical, you’re dead wrong. Notice how Zoltan doesn’t pin-point what those “certain events” are, nor what that “necessary spiritual enlightenment” would look like, leaving that up to the hilarious visuals for the video of ‘Living The Dream‘. He is correct that everyone has a voice, that artists do have a unique position to highlight the world through their art and creative fiction, and that his band are more than welcome to share their opinion and politics in their music. (I’d add that most art is political in some way.) Quite hilariously, Five Finger Death Punch have decided to make their voices known with whatever the hell this hot mess of a song and video are. That’s, of course, their right and freedom to do so. As it’s also mine to pick apart this un-subtle viewing experience.
Shambling zombies are portrayed as toilet paper hoarders, we see a fictional work camp for the “People’s Republic of America”, there’s a brief reference to QAnon and “The Great Awakening”, and even a shot of Iron Man eating Tide Pods. Visually and lyrically referencing superheroes given the prominence of the MCU? Sure, fine. But having a two-year-old, out-dated nod to Tide Pods? Keep up with the times and memes, guys!
The silliest part of the clip is when we see mask-wearing individuals portrayed as communists, shown wearing badges that read “Compliant” above the hammer and sickle symbol. Because as we all know, when you go out to the shops or head off to work with your mask on ,you must pray to your Lenin poster before leaving. As has been pointed out numerous times, when you consider that this band sell their own masks, have an FAQ on how to use them, adding a disclaimer that surgical masks are still the best way to go, this is the purest form of hypocrisy. Because it’s not “compliant” when it makes you money, right Five Finger Death Punch?
But wait, there’s more! A caricature for the U.S. Speaker Of The House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is seen leading a group of leashed, masked, black-clothed individuals, meant to be some jab at Antifa or BLM. She then flies into a rage when she sees an American flag, suddenly letting her “pets” go as they start destroying that which is most sacred to Libertarians – property. The video’s characters, including a former Marine previously seen wearing a mask, then rips off said mask and takes a defiant stand to this video’s contrived sense of tyranny (lol), revolting against the government via some creepy American civil war imagery as we see these people being gunned down as they charge into battle with American flags raised high. (Imagery that’s tone deaf given the recent news of a militia group being thwarted in trying to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer.) Before ALL of this is revealed to be a day-dream by one of the Founding Fathers, as they’re about to sign the United States Constitution. Because of course that’s how this violently American music video ended.
This entire package is the living musical embodiment of “WAKE UP SHEEPLE!” Depiction isn’t always endorsement, but when the singer of your band is seen running alongside these revolutionary types at the end of such a clip, you don’t get to sit there and say that it’s “not a left against right” problem.” For this video is conveniently a paranoid GOP reactionaries wet-dream crammed into a cringe-inducing four-minute video. Their intention of showing how hypnotical and exempt the ruling class politicians and elites are in society is apt, I’ll definitely give them that, but it’s not shocking that they didn’t display a male Trump-esque figure instead. Someone who has, on countless occasions in their administration’s presidency, publicly exempted himself from the U.S. laws and rules of the land. As that would have probably result in another kind of uprising, just within the band’s own fanbase.
Zoltan has since commented on how this video has been received and the claims that it’s “anti-mask.” After reading his full backpedaling statement, I have to wonder whether he’s deeply thought about, let alone properly taken in his band’s video. I could respect the band’s view-point if it wasn’t so cowardly see-through and dishonest.
If boomer edginess, conservative politics, and boring metal riffs made someone immune to a deadly pandemic, scientists would be rushing to study Five Finger Death Punch. (Someone should tell them that this virus also doesn’t care how Red scared you are.) Without a doubt, this is the funniest music video I’ve seen in 2020. Barring this one from their former drummer. At least, it would be if it wasn’t for the sad reality that many of their fans will watch this shit and see it as a genuine confirmation of their beliefs.
Five Finger Death Punch are correct about one thing: the “dream” of American capitalism and it’s government is a farce that has failed millions of people in that country for generations, but not for the reasons displayed in this pathetic video for a terribly bland rock song that sees its creators lazily deeming anything they don’t like as “socialist” or “communist.” Then again, this is a group who jerk off the U.S. military in song form, so at least their consistent in their pro-American nationalism disguised as lame hard rock.