I know very little about Todd McFarlane’s other work, really. He made the comic book ‘Spawn’ but the film adaptation was supposed to be a real mess: IMDb 5.2/10; RT 19%; Metacritic 34%. That film was made in 1997 so as Hollywood keeps clearing out its cupboards and shaking out its drawers for something, anything, to re-make, no doubt that we’ll get another run at it in the next five years.
Anyway, two pop videos: one made for the metal band ‘Disturbed’ and one for Pearl Jam. There’s something about animation that lets various ideas fly by unmolested by censors when, in live action, it would be problematic. For example, no way would a modern sit-com character be constantly smoking like The Simpsons’ Patty and Selma or Krusty the Clown’s Mr. Teeny or Edna or Krusty himself but it sails though as an animation. And then you’ve got the numerous, blood-splattered Halloween episodes. Both of these videos contain very interesting images and ideas. Disturbed’s ‘Land of Confusion’ especially.
It dates from 2005 and almost seems to foresee the Occupy movement and its strangely moving finale recalls Bill Hicks’ ‘The Elephant Is Dead’ bit. Obviously, the song itself is a cover version of the tune by Genesis yet one line is different, perhaps due to differing ideas of to whom the song’s protagonist is singing.
During the middle 8, the Genesis version contains the line: “And the sound of your laughter” whereas the Disturbed’s take changes it to: “In the wake of this madness”. As I understand it, it’s fine for people to take it on themselves to do cover versions but if they change a line they have to get permission from the original writer because it’s then perceived as messing with their work. When film-maker, writer and critic, Mark Cousins made his ‘A Story of Children and Film’ he had to make sure that all of the many clips he utilised from other works were no more than a certain length and couldn’t be reedited, under the fair use law. With musical cover versions, there also can’t be autonomous re-workings, however small, as that would constitute a new work or a vandalism of the old work.
Genesis, evidently, allowed Disturbed to go ahead but Kevin Rowland, when making his notorious album of cover versions in the late 1990s, wanted to cover Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’ complete with a lyrical change that reflected a more personal interpretation of the song. Springsteen: “No!”.
There could be any number of reasons why Springsteen refused but if he was negatively influenced in some way by the album’s cover photograph it’s nice to think that, seventeen years later, it was Springsteen who boycotted North Carolina’s discriminatory laws towards LQBTQ citizens, sparking off a whole load of other artists who similarly extended a middle finger to bigoted law-makers.
I like both animated films more than I do the tunes. That leaden guitar change into the middle 8 of their ‘Land of Confusion’ sets my teeth on edge a little and I wish that I liked Pearl Jam. There’s lots to be said for someone who plays and records for twenty-five years to a strong global following but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling of ‘unconvincing!’ whenever I hear them but I regularly go back to them to try again. Maybe one day it’ll all make sense. As far as Eddie Vedder goes, I’ve more of a sweet spot for his score to Sean Penn’s somewhat misinterpreted film ‘Into The Wild’
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