Interpretations:Kiss Me, Son Of God
I'd have to say that this song calls to mind Henry VIII. When he broke with the Catholic Church, he installed himself as the head of the new Church of England. As the head of the Church he was said to have a direct link to the divine, hence the "Son of God". And it is maintained that "Mr. Jesus is very far away", as his reasons for breaking off from the Mother Church had nothing to with religion, they were purely personal. As King, his power is built on, to quote Monty Python "By exploitin' the workers -- by 'angin' on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic an' social differences in our society". So he built an empire out of the blood of exploited working class. And this same class which he has so brutally exploited is also the source of his affluence, hence "Now I laugh and make a fortune off the same ones that I tortured". And as for breaking the bonds of friendship the obvious choice would be all the queens he had killed for failure to produce an heir. That would also account for the phrase "That you love me, and I love me", as he would expect his wives to be doting, loving wives, but he had interest in them other than to carry on his line. Of course the friend he broke with could also be Sir Thomas More, who was fiercely loyal until Edward VIII broke ties with Catholicism.
I think that the term "Son of God" here is being used in a more archaic sense - pre-Christendom, the title "Son of God" was often assumed by absolutist rulers as a way of exalting themselves and legitimizing their rule. (Interestingly, many historians believe Jesus of Nazareth assumed the title as a form of criticism against the militant and materialist Roman society and system of rule - Jesus and the early church were more seditious than we realized!)
So the song isn't really about Jesus at all, but about a ruler in the same vain of rulers of antgiquity who called themselves deity, like the pharaohs of Egypt or the emperors of Rome. The reference to Jesus in the song is simply there to offer a vantage point for the narrator's deity - TMBG is making reference to the most universal deity of the time and place in which their song was written.
-- Human Nature -- I would gamble that this song is very interpretive, like most They Might be Giants songs, but my two cents is that this song is, more than anything, a commentary of the arrogance and selfishness of human nature. I believe the lyrics and verbiage of the song are using kings, emperors, and people of the sort to sort of convey the message that humanity is arrogant, believing themselves to be above all others, and is willing to use any given advantage or privilege (In this case, say, birthright) to exploit and manipulate others into doing what they want.
It sounds to me that the song is being sung from the perspective of Judas after he has betrayed Jesus.
I built a little empire out of some crazy garbage
Judas is one of the twelve disciples, and thus is partly resposible for building the "empire". Judas was a nonbeliver and never addressed Jesus as Lord. This might explain why he refers to the ideas of Christianity as "crazy garbage".
I destroyed a bond of friendship and respect Between the only people left who'd even look me in the eye
This is pretty easy to interpret. This part is talking about how Judas has now betrayed Jesus by ratting him out to the Romans.
"Kiss me, Son of God"
I'm pretty sure this is Judas's way of asking for forgiveness for his actions. Judus is asking for a "kiss" or in other words, forgiveness. This is ironic because Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Kiss Me Son of God
The whole song is about a heartless corporation taking over people's lives and crushing thier spirits. The owner, who is obviously on one hell of a powertrip becuase of his great success, compares himself to Jesus and speak of himself being God like for being rich, even though he employs workers for minimum wage.
This song has puzzled me for a long time. I have a very strong impression that it's about somebody specific. On the one hand, phrases like "I built a little empire out of [...] the blood of the exploited working class" suggests a right-wing dictator like the ones found in Latin America. On the other hand, 'They're calling me "Your Highness"' and 'a world screams "Kiss me, Son of God"' seem to point to a cult leader (L. Ron Hubbard perhaps?). Maybe the line "I look like Jesus, so they say" is to be taken literally. Which dictator/cult leader has been compared to Jesus Christ? - anonymous
It might be about a leader - maybe the _personality cult_ of a dictator. -- Mark
Simply put, this track is a song of celebration as sung by a megalomaniac whose ego is asymptotically approaching critical mass. The lyrics are entirely ego-centric... A rather blatant example of this is, "...you're the only one here, who can tell me if it's true. That you love me, like I love me." It's all about me, me, me and an ego large enough to blot out the sun.
I'd just like to say that when I first heard "Kiss Me, Son Of God" I immediately wanted to write a musical just so the villain could sing it... I don't think the narrator is specifically corporate, or indeed specific at all; these sorts of people crop up wherever there are Persian cats and vats of acid.
I've always assumed that this song was about TV preachers who make themselves rich by claiming to have a more direct connection to God.
I don't remember where I first heard this, yes I realize that's a very bad thing, but I read once that it was about Alexander the Great. There's a flaw in that though, as Alexander the Great lived long before Christ. If it weren't for the line "I look like Jesus, so they say" one could take the 'son of God' bit and compare it to how rulers of some cultures were thought by their subjects to be the sons of the leader of their gods. Or weren't the pharohs supposedly incarnations of their highest god? I suppose you could also link it to the Roman emporer at the time of Christ's life, but I don't know who that was. ~Xynk
Surely someone who "builds a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class", is a socialist revolutionary who after he comes to power naturally assumes the trappings of those who he has replaced, "Now they're calling me, Your Highness"
Ok, to say this song is about a megalomaniac or an evil corporate CEO is great, and easy, but by doing that you ignore the fact that the world screams "kiss me, son of god." Well, if the world screams it, that implies that the world is seeking for this person's attention and that, in some way, this person is appealing to the masses. Usually the labels of megalomaniac or evil corporation carry negative connotations, not something the world would aspire to. Now, I'm not saying that 'the world' literally means all the world's people, but it definetely implies a large group of people, therefore, I'm more inclined to believe that this is about a revolutionary leader or cult leader who is able to persuade the majority that his causes are justified and convinces the masses to flock to him as a noble, Jesus-like figure ... however, I'm willing to take this even one step further and stick to the religious implications which are so boldly stated in the title and ask what if this song is a mockery of the hardcore evangelists or the moral conservatives that plague our nation?
I know this might offend, but in my experiences, as a solid agnostic, these people believe that their belief in christ makes them so very high and mighty in comparison to those who do not share their beliefs that they are in a class to their own. I don't know about the rest of you, but, even though I'm a member of the working class, it would be insulting to me for someone to label me as that because that would mean that they put themselves above me and that I am somehow inferior simply because I have to work for a living. OK, so now you're probably saying, well what about the "empire" reference, and what about the whole second verse? Well the empire is easy, what is it that every hardcore evangelist loves, no, lives for? Converting people to their beliefs, and why? Well I can't answer that, I've always laughed at this notion as building the good christian army to battle "evil," henceforth the 'empire' (And besides aren't there a crapload of references to the kingdom of god in the bible). Now, verse two.
I'm a college student, so I've dealt with all sorts of people my own age trying to convince me of my place in god's master plan. I try not to look these people in the eye because, well, that gives them an opportunity to preach their pre-recorded message to me. They've lost a degree of respect, in my eyes, by trying to push me to believe what they believe without me asking to be pushed. Similarly, destroying the bond of friendship comes down to this: if a friend of mine were to find god and begin to pester me with his newly found religion, and reasons why I am a heathen and should repent and whatnot, I would find it extremely difficult to be friends with them any more out of respect for my own beliefs.
So, how do I account for this preacher of the good word laughing and making a fortune off the people he/she tortures? Well, let's look at fortune as not so materialistic. Maybe fortune is whatever his reward from heaven for the good work is, and the torture he's inflicted is upon someone like me who doesn't want to hear it, and so in the end they're laughing at the non-believers because they know their reward is coming to them. Or maybe, since he's making a fortune off the one's he tortured, this is Linnell's sense of humor saying his reward from above will come from the people he's converted enduring his preaching/torture. This is reenforced as the world - or at least the world according to the christians - screams their fellow evangelist's praises in calling him the "son of god." In this sense, in the chorus, the evangelist is trying to be very modest by saying he's not jesus - or some other high praise - in the face of being called such, and then turns this around by bringing the attention back to him in the "you love me and I love me" line giving the evangelist, and his work, a very self-centered feeling to it.
Ok, maybe this is all a stretch for some people, but I really think this gives the song a very satirical quality that we so often find in TMBG songs. The same satire which so many of us enjoy so very very much. ~AHintz
Lol, you refer to yourself as a solid agnostic and then tell people not to share their beliefs in the same sentence. Just because you're not a christian (and I'm not by the way) doesn't mean you're not preaching.
I realize this is not a forum for religious discussion, but I would just like to clarify one small thing, and then give my ideas on the song...
When you put further thought towards all of this (AHintz second paragraph)...one should realize that the whole point of Christianity is to be as much like Christ as possible, which is impossible (since he was apparently perfect), but this makes sense because Christ supposedly was crucified to forgive the world of their inability to be like Christ. When he said earlier that "Christians believe that their belief in christ makes them so very high and mighty in comparison to those who do not share their beliefs that they are in a class to their own.", by definition of a Christian, those peaople are actually NOT Christians. They are only a (sadly large) group of people think they are in a magical club which sends them to heaven and everyone else is going to hell. A REAL Christian will consider everyone equal to them because they know that people of other beliefs are just as much sinners as they are since they will always fall short of being "Christ-like". Also, just as God gave us free will to make our own decisions, as a Christian, you should also give non-believers the free will to make THEIR own decisions. Forcing your own beliefs on others is also VERY un-Christ like.
My point is, when you witness someone who claims to be a Christian judging, hastling, or otherwise shunning someone because they are a non-Christian, dont classify them as Christians. That's a terribly common stereotype. Those people give Christianity, and organized religion in general, a bad name and cause more and more people to judge, hastle, and otherwize shun REAL Christians, thus creating more athiests from people who might have decided otherwise...
As for the song, I honestly think that we are ALL missing the point of this song. I don't have any clue what it means, but there just seems like there's somethng we're missing that I can't put my finger on. There's one specific ine that throws me off completely. He says "Between the only people left who'd even look me in the eye". The word "only" suggests that only a small group of people would look him in the eye, and now even they won't because of the "bond of friendship and respect" that he apparently destroyed.
Also, the word "Son" in "Kiss me, Son of God" is capitalized, which makes is obvious that he's refering to Jesus himself. So what does that even mean? Could it be a reference to when Judas kissed Jesus as a sign of betrayal? That makes no sense to me! I'm so confused.......
--[[User:Mr. 3D PHD|<--Mr. 3D PHD]] 19:24, 10 May 2005 (EDT)
I know this probably isn't the real interpretation, but whenever I hear this song, I think of George W. Bush.
Perhaps this is just my World History class kicking in, but could this song have been written from the point of view of Christopher Columbus? It could be said that he "built a little empire out of... the blood of the exploited" in that Columbus, in essence, founded the European slave trade. Many of the natives which he ultimately enslaved thought that, because of his white skin and fair hair, he was a sort of messiah or god; as Europe was mostly Catholic during his time, Columbus could have interpreted their perception as the natives saying he "[looks] like Jesus." Also, when Columbus returned from his second and third journeys, he was seen as a villain or criminal; he "destroyed a bond of friendship and respect between the only people left who'd even look [him] in the eye." Finally, note that it is "a world [that] screams, 'Kiss me, son of God'" - maybe the "New world," as the Americas were referred to, or the "old world," where Columbus was first celebrated (and is celebrated today) as a brave adventurer. - Rhinoceros Rex
This song seems to be sung from the POV of the Anti-Christ, to me. How much farther can you get from Jesus than what's essentially his polar opposite, the Anti-Christ? The world loves him and glorifies him as if he were a god, which sounds a lot like what the book of Revelations says the world will do. Obviously he's exploiting their love for him for his own personal stuff, and will certainly eventually break his bonds of friendship between these people. And even aside from all that, I doubt any other evil person in the world would be so conceited as to mess up the rhyme of the song about him/her just to declare their own concietedness. ^_~
I always thought this song was about Stalin, specifically. He used some "crazy garbage" (propaganda) about the "exploited working class" to get into power. Everyone in his little world thinks he is God. The guy had an ego the size of the Virgo Supercluster. Also some of his early propaganda compared him to Jesus. --Sir Gimp of Baath
-Mushroom Pie 'n stuff
It might not be too far off to think that George H.W. Bush (Sr.) is a subject of this song, since 1988 was his election year and the year the song came out. Also the song is a little spiteful of the crass notion that Jesus is the Son of God. - TheBlunderbuss
What about Che Guevara? It was said that Che looked like Jesus in the photograph of his corpse. He has a world wide following. He tried to liberate Cubans who were an oppressed working class. Che died and was subsequently photographed in 1967. The sixties seems to be a source of inspiration for TMBG, for example Purple Toupee has many references to events around that time frame. Also the bond between the U.S. and Cuba might be alluded to by the line dealing with friendship. Che has also been the poster child for revolutionaries the world over... perhaps the "Kiss Me" is an allusion to the hope that the vigor and charisma of Che will bless a revolution the world over. The only thing that doesn't seem to fit is the lines referencing tourture and making a fortune. I'm not sure but I don't think Che did these things... I could be wrong, I'm not a historian.
I vote for Stalin. Not only did he make an empire out of the exploited working class, but he was super paranoid and didn't trust anyone and broke every last bond of friendship he had to stay in power. Conversely it might be a socialist view of the church, they did call religion the opium of the people, so instead of having a revolution they would turn to God. To a lesser degree I thought it might be about the absolute monarchs of Europe who ruled by divine right and were supposed to be chosen by God to rule. Maybe it's about all threeor at lest a mix of the first two good songs work on many levels
Whenever I hear this song, I can't help but thinking about Joseph Stalin's rise to power. He got Europe to think of him as a messiah, bringing them salvation from a life that wasn't even that bad in the first place. And since the Soviet Union observed Russian Orthodox, which is Christian, so if Stalin would've been compared to any religious figure, it would've Jesus.
I've built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class.
That's exactly what Stalin did. He built an empire using the blood [labour] of the exploited working class of Russia.
But they've overcome their shyness. Now they're calling me Your Highness.
Stalin convinced the shy proletariat to rise and and revolt, upon which they revered him like a king or a god.
I destroyed a bond of friendship and respect between the only people left who'd even look me in the eye.
He destroyed his bond of friendship between himself and Trotsky and Lenin. He grew to hate Trotsky, his best friend, banished him and had him murdered. Stalin's revolution was an extreme mental strain on Lenin, who suffered severe mental stress, some assassination attempts and four whole strokes, killing him in a short time.
Now I laugh and make a fortune off the same ones that I tortured.
Stalin arrested numerous public enemies and tortured them into admitting to crimes they didn't commit, upon which they were either sent to jail or executed, thus preventing them from getting in the way of Stalin and the fortune that was his power of leadership.
The last paragraph just describes how everyone that followed in his personality cult loved him, despite him loving no one but himself, and loving nothing but the love others had for him. --VolatileChemical 19:55, 15 Nov 2005 (EST)
This is probably just supposed to be an abstract song, not really talking about any particular person, but simply talking about despotism in all its wonderful intricacies. There are a million different people it could be; chances are the message is not in who the subject is, but what the subject is. -- rokenrol, 10Dec2005
I thought this was a guy pretending to be Jesus, playfully, and is quite amused when people actually buy it.
Ignoring for a moment the general theme of the song, I think that there is a pathetic note towards the end that is being overlooked. The song isn't just sung by a character, it's sung to a character. Our "son of God" apparently has one confidant left, someone who he can love and be loved by, but it's impossible. His self absorption has taken over to the point where he can't express love for anyone but himself. "I love you" would've even rhymed, but our narrator just can't get out of himself enough to say it. PolarBoy
He built an empire. Empires are ruled by emporers by definition. And generally emperors believe themselves to be appointed by god(s). And often the emperors also considered themselves to be gods (takes for example Egypt and Rome). So it appears to me as if he is asking God to make his empire and position as emporer official. I think "son of god" is used instead of just "God" is because "kiss me, God" seems a bit short and abrupt.
Although it's this is a very loose interpretation, it could be about Oskar Schindler (Schindler's List) He built himself an empire (Deuche Emailfabriken) by hiring tyipcal Jews. After a while, they all learned he was a great man and might have started comparing him to God (or son of) because many concidered him to be their salvation. Just a thought.
For some reason I feel that this song is talking about the Pope. Perhaps a specific Pope; looking like Jesus does not have to be a physical resemblance. In addition, the Pope is the only authority whose power would prevent him from finding love, no? So perhaps the medieval Popes are the subject here.
I think to think that this song is Stalin going to confession and bragging to the minister about everything he has done. This gives a different view to the "I look like Jesus" section. In my version, it's like he is saying that the people say he is Jesus, so does the priest think so too?
I think that this song is about Jesus. Now I am not religious, so I am uninformed, but I still think that this is how it would go if there was a second ressurection. I look at the stuff that a good idea (the bible encompasses this idea) has caused, not just consuming time, but giving people a hope that there is a afterlife, belittling their time on Earth, because they think they will just go to heaven if they meet a minimum standard. Jesus, as would I, look at what his good idea became, this group of people who regect science, and accept that the minimum standard is all they have to do, at their worst. I in no way say this is how every Christian is, but a frightening group are like that and say it is because of Christianity. Just listen to the song with this in mind.
This is random, but if there is ever a musical based on Wall Street, this song would fit right in.
I've always taken this song as a giant accusation against a romantic partner. It uses a metaphor of evil corporations, and power, but I think the key line is this: "Now you're the only one here, who can tell me if it's true, that you love me, and I love me". Also, "I destroyed a bond of friendship and respect between the only people left who'd even look me in the eye." What's he's saying is that the person being accused has done something so wrong that they've totally destroyed their relationship, not only with him, but with all of their friends also. The line "Now you're the only one here ..." is actually dropping out of character - that is to say, he's not taking their point of view, but rather his. He seems to be saying, you're the only one here who can tell me, do we still love each other? He accuses his partner of making light of her wrongs. "A world screams kiss me, son of god".
First of all, person above me:
NOT ALL TMBG SONGS ARE BREAKUP SONGS.
I just had to get that out of my system.
Anyhow, I take this song somewhat literally: It's a cult leader of some sort, who has conned the world into believing he's the son of God (or something to that effect), and sings this song as a simultaneous bost/confession: He knows what he is doing is wrong ("Now I laugh and make a fortune off the same ones that I torture"), yet he is too drunk on his own ego to stop ("I look like Jesus, so they say").
As a side note, Linnell does his best Elvis impersonation for the chorus, a move which I found fitting.
I've always thought that it was, generically, about totalitarianism in general. I don't see why it applies to Stalin, specifically. However, I also think it could be referring to the free market system, in general. Critics of capitalism often accuse its supporters of worshiping money, or at leasting treating money as their god, for all intents and purposes. Some may also view capitalism as becoming established through the exploitation of the labor of others. The specific reference to Jesus, however, would only barely match such an interpretation. In a way, I think TMBG's songs most often aren't intended to have specific interpretations. Maybe we're all supposed to take from it what we want?
Its obvious that this song is very open ended and open to many interpretations, so here is my most general interpretation of this song.
I think this song is simply about the tendency throughout human history, for people to worship or revere those who exploit them, and the same time convincing themselves that their exploiters are in fact good, not evil, maybe even holy. Genghis Khan conquered china, and was, over time revered by the Chinese. Stalin basically enslaved Russia, and yet there are still may people, to this day, that visit his grave with admiration. And yet this same exploiters can't keep friends with those they know personally precisely because these people know them personally.
An extension of this interpretation can be applied to our American sense of capitalism. We tend to revere those who make it big by doing exactly what economist like john smith advocate, working only for their own self interest. America has a history admiring and even revering successful industrialist no matter how many people they exploit in the process of obtaining their success.
this song in my opinion is a confession by any one of these worshiped exploiters to their last friend. --Sarcasmagasm 20:31, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
I think this song is about the perversion of Christian beliefs, or the exploitation of Christians. The perspective itself is unspecific, as are the working class, but it seems to be an indictment of religious exploitation.
I am sorry, but I must point out a logical fallacy when I see one.
"When he said earlier that "Christians believe that their belief in christ makes them so very high and mighty in comparison to those who do not share their beliefs that they are in a class to their own.", by definition of a Christian, those peaople are actually NOT Christians. They are only a (sadly large) group of people think they are in a magical club which sends them to heaven and everyone else is going to hell. A REAL Christian will consider everyone equal to them because they know that people of other beliefs are just as much sinners as they are since they will always fall short of being "Christ-like"".
Sarcasmagasm's interp comes closest to mine, but I always thought it was specifically about Donald Trump, from when I first heard it in the 1980s. "And the world screams kiss me, Son of God," is all about how people fall over themselves to kiss the rear ends of the rich.
I think it's about Fidel Castro. It seems to fit him very well.
This song is obviously about Barack Obama. He built up his empire of political support as a community activist, pursuing voting rights and discrimination cases. But now Obama-girl and his supporters are screaming "Kiss me, son of God".
He's destroyed his bond of friendship and respect with his former pastor and those in his church. He's raising a fortune from the special interests and rich people that he used to fight against (e.g. slumlord Tony Rezco).
He looks a bit like Jesus and he obviously loves himself.
- As stupid as some of the interpretations in these pages can be, this one strikes me as too deliberately stupid -- obviously you have to know that the song was written long long before Barack Obama became a public figure. So the point of the above post is just to slam the candidate. And you don't even have enough guts to tag it with your fake clever moniker. Bug off. --Nehushtan 00:12, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
i have to say, i've always seen this song not really related to religion. it sounds almost like a dictatorship.... people worshipping the leader of their government because they have to. the man being called the son of god isn't actually the son of god, the people just revere him as such, because he's the leader of their empire. and it's an empire! which means obviously that this man had to take over other parts of land (back to the dictatorship bit), the "crazy garbage", and probably by force.
This song is very straightforward: Marxist atheist view of Christianity. The lyrics indicate that the speaker himself is Christ or his disciples, but apparently he himself follows a Gnostic form of belief. He knows he himself is not the savior, but the masses are convinced that he is. But he takes advantage of being considered God and oppresses them. The author of the song is pleading the listener to reject religion in order to become a proper communist and help the "exploited working class" overthrow the bourgeoisie.
The Me Generation
While i have read a few of the interpretations, i feel the song really has main aspects in the "me" generation that started in the late 80's. While i feel that some lyrics might think that the song is about a dictator or some other political leader, It seems it's all from the perspective that society sings this song every day to themselves. Such odd lyrics, but they do convey the true meaning of the "me" generation. Also, many TMBG listeners were in their teens when lincoln came out, and probably were experiencing this concept without noticing it.
Edit from Digma: you do know that Millennials are one of the most depressed generations and many have very poor self esteem, right? Also, you said 'the "me" generation that started in the late 80's.' so you must mean millennials, but Lincoln came out in '88 when the oldest millennials where 3, which means none of them where teens, the generation that contains all of the teenagers in 1988 is Gen X, which you seem to be part of. Digma (talk) 09:04, 21 July 2020 (EDT)
This is a song about a CEO
This is a song about a CEO who rose to power by exploiting workers and backstabbing allies. He is being called 'Son of God' because our society worships his entrepreneurial boldness. I'm not sure who in particular is supposed to be singing the song, but the sort of person singing is like an Andrew Carnegie, a Donald Trump, a Henry Paulson, or a Kenneth Lay; someone who created an empire of capital on the backs of American workers and who receives praise as Captain of Industry despite the crushing effect their businesses have had on their employees and the rights of workers in general.
This song is not about nominally socialist tyrants such as Stalin, revolutionaries who later turned socialist like Castro, nor socialist revolutionaries who later turned up dead like Guevara:
--Stalin: He had a cult of personality but it would be ridiculous to think he would try to associate himself with Jesus given the Communist Party's stance on religion. (The Russian Orthodox church was heavily repressed under the USSR). Furthermore, Stalin did not build an empire, but rather took one over through coercion and charisma; no one should need reminding that Stalin did not lead the Russian Revolution. In fact, his role during the revolution was that of newspaper editor. Finally, while Stalin lived like a king he had no use for 'fortune'; the suggestion belies Stalin's motive (for power, not riches) and how a planned economy works.
--Castro: The 'little empire' he built was not built on the blood of the exploited working class, but he rather built his empire with their help in a period when American business interests had installed a puppet dictator in Cuba that grossly abused the rights of workers in Cuba.
--Che: Never built an empire, did not create cult of personality, did not exploit workers in any sense.
TL;DR: If you've interpreted this song to be about communist dictators, you are the exploited worker shouting "Kiss me, Son of God" to your boss.
^ Bro, even the Dean of American Rock Critics saw the Castro parallels, give it a rest.
From the viewpoint of the great recession of the early 21st century, this is not an allegory. No names, places, or situations had to be changed. This is the story of Wall Street, told straight up.
The guy talking in the song, is in my head Alec Baldwin from the movie _Malice_, declaring in a legal deposition that "I am God". Except that he's from wall street and not a doctor.
I think John and John might want to sue Alec Baldwin for copyright violation.
None of you understand what is happening within TMBG
And that makes me sad, because you are subject to their neuromancy without a clue. This song is about John Flansburgh.
I always thought it was about jack welch, the GE CEO as the epitome of the job slashing, ever whistling boss who glories in what he does and somehow persuades society to glory in it too
Not a U.S. citizen here (I am Austrian), but ever since Donald Trump's campaign and especially from the first day of his presidency onwards, this song started to sound awkwardly... prophetic. Note how a previous poster wrote: "I'm not sure who in particular is supposed to be singing the song, but the sort of person singing is like an Andrew Carnegie, a Donald Trump, a Henry Paulson, or a Kenneth Lay [...]"
The lines about the working class are particularly striking. Trump exploited them without them even noticing - he tricked the American working class into voting for him. It makes this song quite creepy, if you ask me. Also, the bridge with the Jesus reference; note how there are several memes by Trump supporters likening him to Jesus, or showing Jesus behind him as he signs an executive order. And of course, Trump loves nobody but himself. So yeah, prophetic it is. --Freakiosis (talk) 13:18, 28 March 2017 (EDT)
My bet theory is that it's about Cesare Borgia. But then again, there's really no evedince to supports this, so *shrug*.
Right wing politicians
I figured this was about Reagan when I first heard it. Certainly could apply to any right wing politician since then. Certainly a lot of blood shed under their administrations (Reagan - AIDS, W. - War on terror, Trump - COVID-19), and yet their supporters seem to look up to them as God-like figures.
This one seems pretty transparent as far as TMBG songs go. Early in the 20th century, capitalists were looked down on, as it was generally understood that they were collecting huge sums of money for labor they didn't do themselves, all while underpaying their workers. This started to shift partway through the century with Americans losing faith in the labor movement and eventually, during the 70s and onward, coming to idolize these larger-than-life people ("overcome their shyness"). It's a song about bootlicking.
Ronald Reagan looked like Jesus, so they say
I always felt like this song was about Ronald Reagan. Like everyone else, I can see the themes of authoritarianism and a kind of cult-like adoration of some highly undeserving figure, but what makes me think of that particular evil bastard is the talk of capitalism.
"I built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class"
People loved Reagan and supported his BS trickle-down economics because they thought it would make them rich. However, it only led to more prosperity for those who already prosperous, and left everyone else struggling. Neoliberals don't actually care about the people, they just trick them into believing they do in order to build their little empires higher.
A lot of other people mention organized religion as the subject of this song. I think this fits well into a reading where it's about capitalism in general. Isn't religion supposed to be the "opiate of the masses", which keeps people complacent, or whatever?
Of course, America is allegedly secular, so what can our culture worship in place of God? That's right my friends, the Free Market(tm). And who was perhaps the most important and celebrated disciple of the Free Market(tm) in the modern age, its 'Jesus', if you will? That's right, Ronald Reagan. I rest my case.
I'm joking, but only a little bit.
There does seem to be this strange phenomenon happening in this country, which is hard to put into words, but I feel this song expresses. We want to believe we're free, that we love democracy and freedom and liberty and equality of opportunity, and that we practice all these things, that our culture is secular and inclusive of everyone. But, as opposed to truly practicing these ideals, we worship them. We worship 'all men are created equal", and "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", and we quote the Constitution like the Bible, like it's some kind of gospel to live by. We equate our government and our leaders and our empire with the idea of freedom itself. Anything the American Empire does is good, because the American Empire is freedom, and freedom is good.
And that leaves the door open for Ronald Reagan, or any other president or regime for that matter, to come in and claim they love freedom and equality, and that's why they're starting wars, and introducing ever more stringent punishments for ever more minor offenses, and deregulating, and pouring money into the military, and on and on and on, and people can accept it without question. They can celebrate it, in fact, because of the illusion that this is what freedom looks like.
"I look like Jesus, so they say"
But Mr. Jesus is very far away.