We all know Julian Casablancas is a politically engaged man – his Cult Records website has a section for articles dissecting current affairs. So it’s no surprise that the new video for The Strokes‘ ‘Threat Of Joy’ is full of political satire. The only surprise is they’ve chosen this song to accompany it; probably the softest, least politically-minded track on latest EP ‘Future Present Past‘.
Of course, this being The Strokes, they’re not giving it to us straight. They and director Warren Fu have masked their message in a surreal plot of subterfuge and pig mask-wearing, poker-playing gangsters. We tried to decode some of the messages hidden in the video.
The scene: At one point, a door appears with the words The American Globe
on it, in a similar design to the Strokes’ classic logo. The door opens and behind it sit the band behind desks, going through documents and on the phone. It’s meant to be an old-school newspaper office and the publication’s title is significant.
The message: America, it suggests, doesn’t just control its own territory, but the world. When you think about it, it’s kind of true: the Presidential election will have an impact far further than the US.
The video cuts a couple of times to a meeting room with five men with pigs’ heads sat round a table. There’s a map of the world on the wall and one pig is counting a wad of cash. Another wears an official-looking hat and uniform, one looks sharp in a suit and another has a belt of bullets strapped across his chest.
The message: Money corrupts; authority figures will collude with gangsters and mercenaries if the price is right.
“Protect us from the truth” reads a neon sign towards the end of the video, just after the camera’s panned across the band in a line, Julian peeking in and out from behind his bandmates with a grin on his face.
The message: Contrary to what Julian sang on ‘The End Has No End’, it is the secrets of the government that are keeping us dumb. We might be happier being kept at arm’s length from the truth by our world leaders and media, but we’ve no idea what really’s going on in the world.
The scene: For just one second, a black and white image of one of the pigmen flashes up on screen next to the slogan “Wall Street: We make money so you don’t have to”.
The message: This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the video is key, a comment, perhaps, on the shift from industry to financial services, casino banking and toxic lending that necessitated the bailouts following the global financial crisis.