Using powerful images from the past, Incubus leave little doubt about their position on present-day politics in the video for “Megalomaniac.”
The title of the first single from the band’s fifth album, A Crow Left of the Murder, refers to a person with delusional fantasies of power, and the video applies that definition to the United States and President Bush.
Shot in late November by Floria Sigismondi, the director responsible for such visually stunning clips as Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” and Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” the five-minute video is a hyper-stimulating barrage of images, most of which flash by only momentarily to underline the subconscious level of programming some propaganda campaigns have employed.
The clip opens with guitarist Mike Einziger in front of a radio switchboard, appearing to give a speech. The sign on the wall before him reads “No Grace Period,” while the one to his left reads “Operation Freedom Control,” presumably a play on “Operation Iraqi Freedom” that ironically suggests that the U.S. controls the Iraqis’ independence. A six-volt battery on a shelf bears the label “super power.”
The scene morphs into a shot of the giant-sized bandmembers performing on top of buildings. A zoom into one of the buildings’ windows reveals a TV showing the film “The United States Air Force Presents … Brain Washing” before a series of war scenes culminates with Adolf Hitler, with airplane bomber wings on his back, flying overhead.
It’s then that singer Brandon Boyd offers the song’s opening lines: “I hear you on the radio/ You permeate my screen/ If I met you in a scissor fight, I’d cut off both your wings … on principle alone.”
Later, a politician looking like Bush addresses a crowd of protesters who hold signs reading antiwar slogans such as “Not in Our Name” and “Drop Love Not Bombs.” As the podium from which he speaks morphs into a gas pump that inflates skyward, the protesters clash with police. Boyd, meanwhile, repeats the line “Step down, step down.”
Amidst the pandemonium, the politician’s head peels back and the head of a bald eagle grows in its place. The birdman then proceeds to devour the audience members, whose own heads have become those of fish.
But there is an eventual silver lining to Incubus’ dark cloud of a message. After showing a 1940s wartime family feeding its baby a bottle full of oil, a symbol of America’s thirst for Iraq’s greatest export, and a crowd of people fleeing from falling bombs, the fish-headed masses begin to revolt against their bird-brained leader. Piranha heads are sported by those who topple the birdman’s tower and proceed to ravage him. This is met by a shot of the crowd applauding.
While “Megalomaniac” has just started to get radio play, the video is expected to surface at TV outlets in January. It’s currently being streamed on Incubus’ Web site.
A Crow Left of the Murder, the follow-up to 2001’s Morning View, is due February 3 (see “Incubus Experiment With New Sounds on Crow Left of the Murder“ ).