Interpretations Talk:I'm Impressed
I worked on this video
I spent this summer working in Portland, OR for Bent Image Lab, the amazing art house that made the video for "I'm Impressed." Another intern and myself were the only people responsible for ALL the construction (characters, sets, etc.) It was pretty much just us and the director. I thought I might offer some insight.
Many different directors made a bid (idea proposal) to TMBG for the video for "I'm Impressed." The concept/creativity was left extremely open, with the one key instruction given from the band: "There must me a leader, and he must get killed."
Bent Image Lab's very talented Rob Shaw won the bid with his violent robot world. Chel White, head of Bent, is apparently friends with one of the Johns (I don't remember which), so there was communication from the band along the way. Something I have noticed in so much of the discussion about the video (such as on YouTube) is that no one thinks it is of crucial note that the entire world is made of paper. Paper robots? A paper king? Didn't anyone see Brazil? It's not accidental. In fact, when the king robot gets murdered in the end, he was originally supposed to have guts made of actual meat (like we were going to shoot it using ground beef), as opposed to all the other robots who have paper guts. He was supposed to be the only thing in the story (secretly) not made of paper. The Johns put their foot down and said that no, it was too much, they want it to just be red paper too, with just a subtle "real blood drop" at the end. So much of my time was spent enforcing the "everything's paper" aesthetic, in order to enforce the concept behind the song. Aside from being fun anecdotes, I thought these points might help shed some light on the meaning of "I'm Impressed."
Throughout the months we worked on this video, the song was very automatically and consistently referred to as an anti-Bush song. Or if you need it to be more general, an anti-our-current-political-and-social-climate song. There was pretty much no question about it, and I think there was good reason for it, probably straight from the source. We talked about being proud to make a video that was not just fun, but carried a political message we could get behind. Obviously Rob Shaw's influence is a major factor, but I think the lyrics to the song are pretty clear, and I think people have managed to over-dissect and miss the obvious. It is a half sincere, half sarcastic anthem about a powerful leader whose world the narrator acknowledges is an almighty one, but not really one he wants to be a part of anymore because it is made of violence and bullshit (paper), yet action is not being taken. As a person that helped work towards the success of this song, I state with confidence that this is a brilliant, honest, and more sophisticated anti-Bush song, that also acknowledges our current lack of action against his policies (and what might happen if stagnation wasn't the model.)
I hope this was helpful/interesting. Thanks!