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Music Video Review: 'Do the Evolution' by Pearl Jam (1998)

A Timeless Tale That Really Shouldn't Be

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

I quite like Pearl Jam. While I admittedly don't listen to them as much as I should, I nonetheless appreciate what they've done for the grunge scene—especially with their more politically relevant songwriting. 

So what better way to kick off a new series than with an animated music video from one of the most influential rock bands of the 90s? I won't wait. Let's get to it.

As soon as I started watching the video for the first time, I thought, "Hey, the animated segments from Korn's 'Freak on a Leash' video remind me a lot of this." Lo and behold, it turns out that comic book creator Todd McFarlane directed both videos, which explains the striking similarities in style. 

And I'd say this was the perfect testing ground for it. Seeing as how the song tackles so many instances of power in leadership being abused and unreliable throughout human history, it makes sense that the visuals would be so gritty, yet fluid in synergy with the lyrics.

You'd think all these messages and imageries would take time to sink in, but we as society don't have time for that. Therefore, neither does the music video. Why would it expect us to care about issues we don't take seriously in everyday life, anyway?

The point is that no matter where we are on the timeline, what we're capable of, and what we're blessed with, the worst aspects of our primal instincts override everything we should be grateful to know and have the opportunity to learn. 

Probably the most memorable moment in the video for people is when the dark-haired lady "Death" kisses a human skull. Talk about literally flirting with death. With all her disturbing enthusiasm throughout the video, she embodies what humans are drawn to naturally and as a result of their greed or indecency, even if they think they're not in the latter case. 

We take pleasure in our inevitable doom without realising it; we are seduced by consequences donning dream masks.

When we watch the whales getting poached or babies being literally churned out to either become slaves to consumers or slaves to consumerism themselves, do we actually stop to think, "Is this what humans are supposed to be like? Are we not able to redefine the human condition?"

Of course not. Nothing can haunt or scar us anymore. We've become so accustomed to it all that we simply accept it as fact. Even if we feel the slightest guilt or sorrow at what we see on the screen, our demanding jobs and high maintenance lifestyles will always call us back to perpetually take our attention away from it. 

Because living in stress somehow guarantees our happiness is coming someday. 

We seem all too content with allowing our agency to be robbed by an all-powerful excuse. The video seems to think so too, with its depiction of various types of leaders being controlled like marionettes on strings. 

But then, no one else exercises their inherent leadership to do anything about that, at least to some capacity. Do people really have that little faith in collective power?

Since no one else will say it, then allow me to collect everyone's thoughts and throw them in an echo chamber. That would be a resounding "yes." We follow the crowd in being too concerned with securing our own lives—actually making life harder in the process—instead of getting the crowd to advocate for societal improvements more of us can maintain for as long as possible. 

That's what we get for fighting all our lives to achieve or keep things that really only provide short-term gratification and long-term agony. 

Pearl Jam's "Do the Evolution" video did not predict the future. It established what the norm is and thus what is always going to happen no matter what. And we have yet to prove it wrong. 

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Music Video Review: 'Do the Evolution' by Pearl Jam (1998)
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