The Video to Dance Gavin Dance “Midnight Crusade” is Woke AF

Last week, Dance Gavin Dance released a song from their upcoming album Artificial Selection called “Midnight Crusade.” Given that DGD is my favorite band, of COURSE I was gonna check out the song and listen to it on repeat for 5 hours. What I was not expecting was that the music video would be so incredibly Woke AF.

The reason this video is so damn good to me is because it articulates the complex relationship between technological advancements, anti-human capitalism, and exploitation in roughly 3 and half minutes. The video starts up with shots of metal and a human head shaped mold. Then we see Tilian reveal his robotic creation, which is Jon Mess. Of course, this version of the robot is imperfect. He can’t even perform basic functions properly. Then Tilian upgrades him and that’s when things get really interesting.

At about 1:10 in the video we see this:

Jon and Business 9

Now like any good inventor, Tilian wants to make the absolute best product he can so that there can be the most return on investment when he markets his product. That’s the basic structure of how business works, right? Well, that isn’t the case anymore since technology has been used to exploit its user base in order to make more profit. Take Facebook as an example. Why do you think it tracked its users’ data? It’s because there was opportunity for profit in it. Why does Tilian upgrade Jon Mess? Same exact reason. That, and if he gets Jon to function properly, he could effectively change how society functions, much like social media has done.

So how can one Fully Functioning Robot change our entire Capitalist structure? Easy. The video shows this very quickly, but it’s there.

Jon and Business 1Jon and Business 2Jon and Business 3

The American Workforce is dependent on labor. Without getting too technical here, our economy no longer values manufacturing positions. So when a certain shit-bag president says he would magically help coal miners, the reality was that only those at the top would ever see this “help.” Actual miners are left out because it is much cheaper and effective to automate the business using machines so that you can undercut your labor costs and therefore make more money. Welcome to how capitalism ACTUALLY works.

So I guess now you may be asking yourself how do companies do this? How can they get away with it?! Well, the answer to that is really complicated, but if you happen to be familiar with Antonio Gramsci’s work, then you may already know. I won’t dive too into this because it’s wildly complicated, but Gramsci was asking himself why Italians were not actively protesting the Fascist regime under Mussolini. His answer was that power works in a very frail yet complicated way, where those who HAVE
power must constantly request consent from those they are subjugating. Now how does this look?

Jon and Business 4

Jon and Business 5

Like a crazed robot giving a human a massage so that he thinks robots really are okay. Look at this dude’s face. You think he’s gonna suddenly say Tilian is evil or that robots are terrible? Nahh. That’s the face that says “Y’know that there robot is alllright.”

In the video, after Jon presents his whole business strategy, they all have a party, and what do you think happens? Do you think robots taking over humans would be a good thing? Welp…

Jon and Business 6Jon and Business 10

It’s met with thunderous applause and a party for the Robot. I like how the only Black employee is still suspicious of Jon, but has no problems partying with him later. That’s what you gotta do when you’re a person of color working in a predominantly white, capitalist structure. You kinda have to go with the flow, even if it’s dumb as hell. Which brings us to this pivotal moment in the video:

Jon and Business 7Jon and Business 8

Yeah, who didn’t see this coming? Of course, Jon Mess kills all the humans during the party and then makes them into machines. What does this mean? Well, I believe it’s to get society to think about its reliance on technology and how our lives are being dictated by it. More rapidly, we are surrendering parts of ourselves to it, and we become what the robot was supposed to be: a product to be sold. Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s been all over the internet after all.

I’ll give you a minute to think…..

 

 

FACEBOOK! That’s right. Now I’m not saying that the video somehow had the precognition to see what would happen with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but it does carry a lot of overlap, namely in how Facebook exploited its user base (I.E. humans),  gathered data on us without proper consent (automation), and sold that data to various third parties (capital). What Facebook became was a digital human farm for advertisers to curate what we see online. What makes Cambridge Analytica so damning is that it had a direct relation to the Presidential election. It invaded and made those it targeted one with the machine. Facebook is not a website that encourages communication. It longs to be the ONLY site for it, to limit people’s choices to communicate online so that we HAVE to use its technology. After all, Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Are there really any alternatives?

Before this post gets any longer, I wanna just ask a question. Why was Tilian’s character no longer shown once Jon Mess shows his “business plan” and then goes on his killing spree? I think it’s to showcase the relationship that Silicon Valley has with society. Why would Tilian’s character just disappear from all this chaos he caused? Why would he just turn a blind eye? That answer is in the lyrics.

“You’re salty

Can’t fault you

I’m numb to the rhythm that guides you

Take all your confetti away

I know I know what’s killing me

Don’t need your love Your sympathy”

For the purpose of the video, I think these words are to reflect the seeming indifference that Silicon Valley has when it comes the effects their tech has on humanity. For the record, I’m not saying technology is bad. I mean, I’m a media scholar after all. I’m saying that replacing humans with technology and not leaving them a place to function in society is evil. If we’re gonna do that, we should have some sort of Universal Basic Income to insure that anyone can still live. That, and all health costs be covered. I think that’s a fair compromise isn’t it?

Let’s Talk About the Digital Economy

I was on my twitter feed the other day and I came across an article by Vox that, how should I put this, made me very annoyed (I’m putting that lightly mind you). Stating that Pokemon Go is everything that is wrong with Capitalism is like saying Sesame Street is everything that’s wrong with modern day values. It just doesn’t make sense. The only reason such an article would exist is because of the viral popularity that Pokemon Go has achieved and piggybacking off it for clicks and ad revenue through angering fans of Nintendo and Pokemon.

Now the article describes real life problems that have been occurring for quite some time now. Various tech companies create products or apps that exist to suck out as much market value as possible all without benefiting anyone involved. They exist simply to please the shareholders and continue to rake in billions as opposed to being satisfied with millions. Now I’m gonna use Uber as an example here because while its a mega popular app and makes traveling so much simpler it also treats its workers terribly and severely underpays them. However because the app is so popular regular taxi companies cannot even come close to competing. What’s even worse in this case is that Uber does not think of itself as a taxi company but rather a tech company. Crazy right? Considering that when someone says the word “uber” images of a car arriving in  5 seconds more than likely come to mind. Here’s a more concrete example of what I mean.

That’s the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Pay close attention to what he says around the 5 minute mark in the video. He calls Uber a tech company and that they are now experimenting with self driving cars from Tesla. Tell me something reader. How the hell does that remotely benefit the taxi industry or even help drivers? It doesn’t. It will probably take away an entire industry of jobs thanks to the ability to “push a button and get a ride”.

Companies and apps like these are really the problem here and even then they are just a by product of this Digital Economy that values growth above all else. While I can attempt to deconstruct the Digital Economy here, I believe Douglas Rushkoff does it best. In his book Throwing Rocks At The Google Bus he says:

Not even Google’s investors, officers, or the infamous 1 percent are to blame for the growing inequalities of the digital economy. Silicone Valley executives and venture capitalists are simply practicing capitalism as they learned it in business school and, for the most part, meeting their legal obligation to the shareholders of their companies.

So the digital economy is nothing more than a direct result of capitalism doing what capitalism does best. Maximize the value of something and take as much money from it before sucking everything else dry. That’s the real culprit here. Capitalism that does not work for the common good of humans anymore.

Now is Pokemon Go guilty of this? No it isn’t. Not even close. Do you know why Vox? It’s because Pokemon Go has done so much good for the betterment of people’s lives and looking at things from a nickel and dime perspective devalues what it is that Nintendo stands for. They are a company yes. Though personally I do not consider them a Tech company, they are primarily a Games company. That is they seek to enrich the lives of everyone, especially children, with their creations, especially, their games. It’s what makes Nintendo timeless. Hell it’s what makes me so adamant about defending them from this blatant accusation that they are negatively affecting the local economy. But wait. Is that even true? Is Pokemon Go somehow helping small businesses?

  1. http://www.marketplace.org/2016/07/11/business/how-small-businesses-are-profiting-pokemon-go
  2. http://time.com/money/4402662/pokemon-go-small-business/
  3. http://www.pcmag.com/article/346047/pokemon-go-how-the-pokeconomy-is-changing-business-one-lur

Wow would you look at that. Trust me when I say that’s only the surface being scratched when it comes to Pokemon Go. With that said it’s time for me to go out and see if I can find myself a Ghastly hanging out in my local Pizza shop.