Anchovy by Matsuryuu

As yet I do not see my carriage. – I hear the crack of the whip; it is my driver.-Drive on for dear life, even if the horses collapse, but not one second before we reach the place.
Kierkegaard, The Seducer’s Diary


Mass emotion cannot live on symbols alone. The main appeal of the symbol is to sentiment, an sentiments being, as the psychologists says, “organisations of emotional dispositions”, they are, as it were, a kind of device of escape from the crude violence of the particular emotion. The truth appears to be that the sentiment, which grows out of a numberof situations in which an emotional setting, contributes the generalising element which the propagandist needs, and is to that extent emotion intellectualised. By itself, however, the sentiment is too steady, stable and lacking in excitement and drive for the purposes of political propaganda to use the symbol, which stirs the sentiment, always in an atmosphere of stress, strain and crisis. Then the generalisations which fit the sentiments will be met by that enthusiastic sweeping away of criticism which fits the emotion. The propagandist, especially the political propagandist, whose care is for Party alone, must live from crisis to crisis. If public excitement cools he must whip it up fresh. And since it is in the character of emotions not to last very long, the crises of contemporary political affairs must come very frequently, with the newspapers more or less new every morning. As long as there are powerful dictators who build and maintain their power largely on political propaganda, this rush from one highly symbolised crisis to another will continue. And when an exhausted populace threatens to get more than usually tired or bored, there will always be the last and most powerful popular excitement to fall back upon – War.

Frederic Bartlett, Political Propaganda, p.65


At its heart, Devo’s corporate satire strikes at the very pillar of corporate ideology, the myth of progress, overliteralized so nicely in the “Devo Corporate Anthem” video. Progress, that Victorian keyword which seems to whitewash every hostile takeover, is in fact the enemy. Progress is the virus that we inherited from those brain-eating apes, that trick of the mind that convinces us that our perpetual regress is one more step for mankind, stuck in a loop in which down seems up. Devolution in other words. What better way to make the point than to represent the illusion ? Though much less obvious than “Beautiful World”, Devo’s greatest commercial success, “Whip It”, is another excellent illustration of their postapocalyptic aesthetic at work. There is no mushroom cloud to punctuate the point, but the song and video combination of “Whip It” more subtly represents a culture that doesn’t even realize it’s in a downward spiral. At the forefront is the ideology of progress : “When a problem comes along, you must whip it”. On its surface, the lyric merely seems to advertise better living through self-determination and sheer will. And in both song and video, Mothersbaugh performs those lines completely on the surface.
Apocalypse Jukebox: The End of the World in American Popular Music, David A. Janssen, ‎Edward J. Whitelock, 2009, p.194

I asked (guitarist) J.R. (Bareis) the same question: This isn’t a knock on you, but out of all the hundreds of thousands of songs, why “Whip It?” He kind of explained it as it could have a different meaning to the lyrics. Or is it just something fun to do?
So you’re talking about more of a message thing?
That’s what he said. Breaking from a struggle is what he told me.
Yeah. We were just talking about doing a cover tune, and I was beating myself up, like which one could we do? I wanted to do a ‘80s song, and it had to be New Wave. And so I looked at all these lists. I saw Devo “Whip It,” and I was like, those guys were freaky, so that would be great. But I couldn’t do that (hums the melody). So I put it aside. Then I had some other ideas, but they didn’t work. When I was in the shower one day, I just heard the (hums the riff from his version), and I was like, oh my gosh, maybe we can do this, like more of a Deftones-y. So we tried it, we did it, and that’s just how it came. Then when I was reading the lyrics, I was like, you know what? Even though those guys were weird and freaky and like a joke, the lyrics are about moving on from something that’s in your way. That’s what it’s about, moving on.

Love and death … and Korn: Brian “Head” Welch, Live-Metal

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