Who could have ever thought that a rock band could impact and critique society as accurately and effectively as the band, Gorillaz, has. Having been formed in 1997, Gorillaz has used many different art forms and music genres to inform the public of grievances occurring in their society. Specifically in previous work, Gorillaz attempted to illustrate the issues surrounding the rock-star persona through a few songs including Rock the House, Feel Good Inc., Tomorrow Comes Today and 19-2000. In each video concepts of over sexualization, extreme stunts, substance abuse and other critiques of society may be present.
In the music video “Rock the House,” the band members act rather sexually without needing to, in addition to the extreme stunts they perform like, running away from a giant demon, dodging 8 balls and treating blowup monkeys similar to sex dolls. The raw sexualization perfectly illustrates the standard society seems to have on specifically male rock-stars – they must be drowning in women and have plenty of sexual experiences. Further illustrating this idea, Feel Good Inc. demonstrates more on the sexualized standard of male rock-stars during the opening scenes as a few beautiful women are hanging off the arms of Murdoc, the bassist of the group. In addition to the scenes, their lead vocalist watches on the sidelines as audiences rave for the artists. The danger aspect is also introduced as the lead guitarist plays off the edge of a floating island.
The concept of dangerous actions have also been an important aspect of Gorillaz’s music videos as they showcase a different standard on men in general. The idea is that men always need to be adventurous and bad ass, clearly shown through their dangerous feats. This is also where other issues and even substance abuse come into play as, while illegal, drugs make a rock-star seem “cooler.” All these issues are more or less focused on in “Tomorrow Comes Today.” In this video, the scene continues to change following the lives of the Gorillaz rock-stars in the big city. Drug use, strip clubs and even other pop culture icons are shown within the video. Even the explicit showing of each issue critiques the issue of the rock-star persona in the media. Lastly, “19-2000” uses Gorillaz’s well known platform to further critique the extreme stunts of rock-stars while critiquing another beloved issue of theirs – our unsustainable environment . This is seen through the rows upon rows of oil drills used to fuel a gas station they later blow up, commenting on the world’s dependence on oil. While this has nothing to do with the rock-star persona, this is a common theme of Gorillaz – to tackle many issues at once. However critical the Gorillaz may be, it does not inhibit individuals from enjoying their music, both visually and audibly. Unlike the idea that political and satirical music cannot be well-enjoyed or listened to, Gorillaz finds a way to tackle thematic messages as well as produce catchy and thought provoking tunes.