Genesis – Land of Confusion

Maybe the video is better than the song? Or at least, when it was released in 1986, non-Genesis fans watched anyway. It’s not so simple to assess the song when the video seems to matter more:

The puppets are from a British TV show called “Spitting Image.” The video, given its era, could be about the Cold War and fears of nuclear destruction, but also has a larger reach or point. It speaks to how political authority is wielded, and uses President Ronald Reagan as fodder and example. The Gipper sweats over the challenges, but also is seen as Elmer Fudd-like incompetent and too cavalier with the responsibilities entrusted to him. The consequences are enormous.

So many other things, including political points, are made in the video, that it is a stretch the song meant all its depiction does. Celebrities in puppet form might be a satire on We Are The World efforts at humanitarian assistance. Are modern politicians and celebrities alike in some respects? The band members are parodied, too, as regular folk. Perhaps the video is zooming out from blaming politicians for world problems, to pointing the finger at us.

Now, since the lyrics suggest we need Superman to save us, a land of confusion seems a permanent state.


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