Fall Out Boy – This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race

Fall Out Boy is an Emo band. Well, actually it may not be an Emo band… it would help if I actually knew what ‘Emo’ was to make that particular judgement. Whenever I ask someone younger, and with baggier pants than myself, for the definition of Emo, they say ‘My Chemical Romance’, in much the same way you might say ‘David Beckham’ if someone asked you what a metrosexual is. Regardless… it doesn’t help. I’m still in the dark. But I’m taking a punt that Fall Out Boy is Emo. But I may well be wrong.
One thing’s for sure, they’re serious about their craft. The This Ain’t a Scene video is a post modern deconstruction of the music industry and its many and varied temptations for an earnest Emo band, such as Fall Out Boy, which is intent on keeping it real.

As the video ably demonstrates, selling out, by employing cross-genre super producers, for example, is not keeping it real. Camping outside of the Playboy Mansion waiting for the call up from Hugh ‘cadavers can be sexy’ Hefner? You guessed… that’s not keeping it real. Photo shoots where you prostitute your Emo-ness in front of a stony-headed Euro-type art director with a mobile phone camera is another case of not keeping it real. And as for frolicking in an expensive hotel room, drinking (what looks like) anti-freeze out of a soda syphon, snogging latina maids, and getting bounced out of a 30th-floor window by an overweight afro-American chap… well, all that manner of high-jinks is clearly not keeping it real. Lastly, celebrating all these contraventions of ‘realness’ with a video clip that features random yet hackneyed visual vignettes — a cheerleader, an electro-pop spaceman on a plinth, Slash-style top hats, Harlem choirs, women with big boobs etc etc etc… Is not, I repeat not, keeping it real.
I like This Ain’t a Scene, it’s an ironic take on American pop excess. It cites example after example of how ‘real’ musicians can be sold up the river by unscrupulous bean-counters and amoral suits. Don’t do it kids. Keep it real.
The trouble is, I’m writing this article from a computer in Australia, not the US. And Americans, I’m afraid to say, don’t get irony. The best stab a Yank can make at irony is to block their noses and honk: ‘not!’ at the end of the sentence — just to ensure everyone within two city blocks wouldn’t be left thinking you might actually, like, really think you didn’t, like, know what Emo was. ‘Like, how cool would that be, not really knowing what Emo was… Not!’
I mean, CBS could cross live to an airship above the Superbowl during the half time break and broadcast the punchline to a knock-knock joke to every living, breathing creature north of the Rio Grande and you would be guaranteed that 50 million people would still scratch the backs of their necks wondering what the ‘eck you were talking about. Irony is lost on that great nation… after all, Benny Hill tanked in The States for being a little too subtle.
Regardless, just when you think Fall Out Boy is actually doing its bit to teach the unwashed American masses what irony actually is, there’s a classic Not! moment. Apparently the whole video clip was, you guessed it, a dream. A dream?! Gimme a break. Reminds me of the ‘essays’ I used to write as a 10 year old where all manner of out-of-this-world hoopla could be quickly explained away with a concluding ‘then I woke up’ escape clause.
Finally, just as if after you shouted ‘Not!’ two inches from some Yank’s face, you had to go an inch close (this time with a megaphone) and bellow ‘NO-O-O-O-O-O-T!!!’ to ensure the point was made… Fall Out Boy wrap up the clip with grungy black and white footage of the band, stripped of all the music biz’s fripperies, in a simple school hall, self-evidently keeping it real. So real, in fact, it hurts.

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