From This Might Be A Wiki

In my humble opinion this song is about the bar scene. Meat markets as it were. It's called prevenge because of the mindset that a lot of people have nowadays (I may as well cheat on my partner because it's inevitable that my partner will cheat on me). The girls making it up (or sometimes sung live as pushing it up) is, of course, putting on make up or pushup bras. The boys pushing their luck is about how most guys at a bar who're there specifically to pick up chicks wil generally start out of their league. Lie about what kind of car they drive and how they know the bouncer and can get into the VIP room. Mr. Pupkin, I believe, represents how guys like this assume characters when they go out to pick up women because it won't matter the next day anyway, it's not like they're going to call the girls they take home. "Fully moto / On the headfo / Rock the info / The microtype king" I think is talking about little white lies. How these guys can simply tweak actual information to make themselves come off as much cooler than they really are.

Lol, reading this over I see that I kinda come off as bitter. Yet this is my actual interpretation, so read it as you will.

~ Rilom

Maybe I'm stuck in the '80s, but the bridge sounds like a spot-on imitation of British pop group ABC ("Poison Arrow," "Look of Love," lots of other garbage.) - writer61

A weak song, with a weak pun. Flans low point on the Spine. (mr tuck)

It has something to do with the movie "The King of Comedy" starring Robert DeNiro as Stuart Pupkin. "Pupkin comes alive when Prevenge is the plan"-- J. Dogg

The narrator is a geeky boy ("rock the info / the micro-type king") angry that his date took him to an annoying rock concert (they're "in the front row ... lost in the sound"). He thinks the concert is a "freak show" and sees only posers around him (girls "making it up", boys "pushing their luck") but of course he's worse than a poser, he's an actual liar -- he didn't actually have a ride to this place and his name isn't on the bouncer's list. This was his "prevenge" -- instead of getting back at the girl for making him go there, he botched the plans to go there in the first place. To get out of trouble, he's calling upon is sweet-innocent act ("Mr. Pupkin") to take over for him.

I was pondering the meaning of the word "prevenge" and thought I'd offer up what I was thinking. A good place to start is finding "revenge" to mean reaction to an offense and inferring "prevenge" means making an unprovoked offense. But I was thinking of the phrase "two wrongs don't make a right" and perhaps that prevenge means "two wrongs do make a right." It doesn't make much sense and doesn't have the etymological advantage but I think it's important to interpret the themes of honesty and reactionary historical interpretation in this song. It starts with this:

Now you know that the girls are just making it up, Now you know that the boys are just pushing their luck

which is generally unsavory behavior but not unheard of, lying and boisterous grabs for attention.

Now you know that my ride doesn't really exist, and my name's not really on that list.

but the singer is guilty of it too. He's lying to get to certain ends, the list probably means some kind of night club which can be a symbol for anything social. In a sense, he's making a wrong in reaction to their wrong to fit in. Since two wrongs don't make a right, he's not very happy about it.

Then he announces his plan for prevenge. He is creating a new personality, called Mr. Pupkin, which I believe is an allegory for a typical hippie. He leads a revolution against the perceived wrongs which have depressed him, hosting love-ins and making inspirational appearances on the stand as a symbol for this new right against previous wrongs. It's regular old Hegelistic dialectic. Flansburgh is probably (re)announcing his revolution against the popular music scene.

Revenge is bad because two wrongs do not make a right, so prevenge won't work because two wrongs do make a right. The song's lyrics tell of the singer's plans of revolution but the title realizes the uncertainty of its success. Prevenge is a sort of reference to the logical fallacy of appeal to belief and a testiment to its power. The popular music scene is too strong to defeat because too many people believe in it. In fact, as long as it has perceived power it will survive by playing on another common susceptability to a fallacy - appeal to novelty. The Johns have little trouble keeping things new but if their image stays the same while the popular music scene changes it will outclass them in flashyness, deception, and boisterous grabs for attention.

- sheep

One item of note: Robert DeNiro's character in the dark Martin Scorcese comedy "The King of Comedy" is named Rupert Pupkin, a Vietnam vet who has an obsession with not only becoming a successful comedian (even though he stinks) but also with a popular late night talk show host played in the film by Jerry Lewis. Whether or not it was Flansy's intention to somehow riff on DeNiro's character, I can't help but think of it any time I hear this song.

- whimsy

I'm with you on that one, whimsy. ("King of Comedy" is one of my favorite films.) -- GR

Well we know they are kinda Liberal, like it or not flansy did say that US foreign policy "makes about as much sense as sticking your head in a hornet's nest." Read up on Karl Rove if you hadnt already... i think the song is sung from his perspective - greasyLocks

I figured it as 'prevenge' ment getting revenge before someone does something to you. Like, instead of waiting for that person to give you something to get revenge on, you get it now. The rest of the song I thought was really about some guy taking his 'friend' (the one he's getting prevenge on) to a freak show, and then leaving him in the front row (lost in the sound). - This Might Be a Midget

maybe this song is about God and how almighty awsome he is and that he will always happily rule us happy people and we will live happily ever -jdc

This song has always struck me as being about a mind-reader who doesn't realize that he's not the only one who can read minds. He's probably an adolescent of some sort and he has insight on the way that the two different genders at his school deal with each other. "Prevenge" is just a natural instinct for such a character, who can see someone's planning to do something nasty to him and thus making him plan something back. The fact that his intended target doesn't see it coming is baffling to the character in the first lines of the chorus, which I think of as being almost a bit incredulously delivered, as though the narrator just can't believe that someone wouldn't read his mind and find out about -his- plans, in turn.

Prevenge is pre-emption. It's no coincidence that Flans wrote this shortly after the pre-emptive war in Iraq. The girls are just making it up, the boys are just pushing their luck--the boys and girls in the state department are just making up the justifications for the war. My ride doesn't really exist, and my name's not really on that list--these are two images where the speaker's ability or license to do what he wants to is non-existent; it's a reference to the WMD that didn't really exist. Mr Pupkin is obviously Tony Blair...

I've always connected a few lines of this song to The Crucible by Arthur Miller. "Now you know that the girls are just making it up" referring to the girls' collective lying about being witches and later being able to see demons and such. "Now you know that the boys are just pushing their luck" referring to the Putnam family, specifically Mr. Putnam, exploiting his daughter's supposed abilities to accuse people of witchcraft, and subsequently get their land when they die. Also, the very idea of "prevenge" permeates the story...Elizabeth Proctor wishes to take care of Abigail because she has a feeling Abigail will target her next. Abigail is seeking revenge of sorts on Elizabeth for being married to John and preventing any relationship Abigail might've had with him, pre-venting by being married before the two met. To a lesser extent, the term "freakshow" could refer to the court house, with all of the witch and profit fakes. And, now that I sit here and right about it, the lines about being tired of waiting and negotiating, etc., could refer to John's attempt at first to abide by the court's rule and play the game of law against Abigail, and his eventual giving up and being accused himself. 21:14, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

    Nice work anonymous in reading the song's Iraqi subtext.  I'm going to merge your interpretation with the first one posted on this page, the bar scene.  Flansburgh has written this kind of lyric before: a tempting allegory under the surface of a familiar social scene or characterization.  In Hot Cha we have a disordered personality -- a wanderer, perhaps the victim of Dissociative Fugue.  The figure leaves first for a floating island, a heavenly place.  He is urged to return (is resurrected) and then abruptly leaves again.  His third arrival promises great celebration.  It doesn't take long to see Christian parallels.  John Cleese of Monty Python used to say he found great humor in decontextualizing the behavior of religious and mythological figures.  In other contexts, we view this behavior as insanity.
     I think we agree that Prevenge presents a kind of bar scene.  The characters are daring, disingenuous, vindictive.  Prevenge isn't just preemption, it's revenge disguised as preemption.  The narrator plans something akin to what our president was accused of in Iraq: an act of vengeance under the pretext of prevention.  To be fair, from the narrator's perspective, prevenge can serve both masters: it's retributive as well as a preventative measure.  Pupkin could be Blair.  I'll substitute Putin for Pupkin, a man with a reputation for retributive violence, and one who did take a stand in the spring 2003 -- ironically, against the invasion of Iraq.  The narrator uses Orwellian language: the act of prevenge is a "love-in."  I can't help but think of the liberated streets of Baghdad lined with flowers.  Did Colin Powell "rock the info" before the UN in February 2003?  That could mean two things: the administration made a killer presentation, or they manipulated the data.  They may have done both.
    Now who is Mr. Walker?  (read the liner notes)  Just a suggestion, I could be reaching here.  Martin Walker is a UPI editor emeritus, and an expert on American foreign policy and international politics.  His pre-war journalism was singled out as particularly balanced and far-sighted.  He has also gained attention for his critical reporting on both Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin.  

- Sydney

Believe it or not, I think this is sort of a sci-fi song that’s somewhat reminiscent of the original sci-fi tinged version of “First Kiss” (Severe Tire Damage). It might be stretching it, but it could even be a sequel to “First Kiss” told from the POV of a jealous rival of that song’s main character.

The speaker in "Prevenge" is a waiter in the 1945 film “The Clock” (I’m not sure, but I think the character might be listed on IMDB as “Man Smoking Pipe” played by writer Robert Nathan).

Background info: In “The Clock” Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) and Joe Allen (Robert Walker) meet and decide to marry over the course of two days. On the second day, they try to have a romantic dinner at a New York café. However, a waiter sits down uncomfortably close to them and hovers over their every word while snacking and smoking. Similarly, in the film “The King of Comedy” Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) and Rita Keane (Diahnne Abbott) have dinner at a Chinese restaurant in New York. While Rupert is trying to pick up on Rita, a mysterious man in the background (Chuck Low) is trying to interfere by miming Rupert--perhaps in an attempt to flirt with Rita. Both of these scenes perplexingly draw attention to an interestingly prying background character, but neither characters’ motives are revealed in their respective films. I believe Flansburgh noticed the uncanny similarities between these two odd scenes and came with a scenario to explain the appearance of the waiter in “The Clock.”

In “Prevenge” the waiter comes from the future and is involved in some diabolical plot to interfere with the relationship of the couple he’s watching. The couples’ two-day courtship is a “freak show,” and as he's silently seated beside them, the waiter has a front row seat to their would-be intimate dinner. Convinced that relationships like this are a sham (girls just making it up; boys just pushing their luck), the waiter is intent on taking preemptory revenge upon the couple. Instead of an actual waiter, the "Prevenge" character is an interloper from the future who has brought himself onto the scene in order to carry out some selfish plan that he expects will change the course of the couples’ (and possibly his own) future. His “ride” is a time machine that hasn’t been invented in the timeline of Alice and Joe, and he’s only posing as the restaurant’s waiter (would a waiter be allowed to take such an intrusive break?) in order to meddle.

The puzzling slang of his internal thoughts (fully moto / on the headfo = very MOTivated, sitting with his HEAD FOrward) are indicative of the “waiter’s” “future speak.” Additionally, he invites a character from the future, “The King of Comedy’s” Rupert Pupkin, to join in on the plot to subvert the couple’s “love-in.”

p.s. I think the speaker might actually be summoning his unnamed "King of Comedy" counterpart--the man seated behind Rupert Pupkin in the Chinese restaurant. However, lyrics such as this would be horrifyingly cumbersome:

Calling my comrade, whose name I shan't mention because no one knows it, but who sat at a table in a restaurant next to Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Pupkin / To join us at the love-in… -=ez

--EZamor 21:56, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Part 6 of The Spine

The Skullivan plans Prevenge for The Spine's betrayal of their relationship (The girls are just making it up). He finds that, even though the signs that she doesn't actually love him are obvious, he still hopes for a different outcome (The boys are just pushing their luck). He pushes his plans aside for a drink of Thunderbird.

Singers: The Skullivan

--MidoFS (talk) 16:31, 1 June 2018 (EDT)