A2 Music Video Deconstruction – Rise Against


Warm yourself by the fire, son,
And the morning will come soon.
I’ll tell you stories of a better time,
In a place that we once knew.

Before we packed our bags
And left all this behind us in the dust,
We had a place that we could call home,
And a life no one could touch.

Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!

Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!


We are the angry and the desperate,
The hungry, and the cold,
We are the ones who kept quiet,
And always did what we were told.

But we’ve been sweating while you slept so calm,
In the safety of your home.
We’ve been pulling out the nails that hold up
Everything you’ve known.

Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!

Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!

So open your eyes child,
Let’s be on our way.
Broken windows and ashes
Are guiding the way.

Keep quiet no longer,
We’ll sing through the day,
Of the lives that we’ve lost,
And the lives we’ve reclaimed.


Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!

Don’t hold me up now,
I can stand my own ground,
I don’t need your help now,
You will let me down, down, down!

Don’t hold me up…
(I don’t need your help, I’ll stand my ground)
Don’t hold me up…
(I don’t need your help)
No! No! No!
Don’t hold me up!
(I don’t need your help, I’ll stand my ground)
Don’t hold me up!
(I don’t need your help, I’ll stand my ground)
Don’t let me down, down, down, down, down!


The song begins with a conversation between a refugee and his son. The refugee talks about the good life he, and his people, once had, but no longer do. The chorus is the refugee calling out; saying not to help him, as carrying himself is all he has left. He says that all those who have tried to “help” in the past have merely let him down again.
The next verse is about how these refugees are quietly trying to change the world in the background, in subtle ways. In the final verse, he tells the son to step out and change the world for the better. The song is against many practices used as a result of capitalism in the United States. It depicts workers of all ages and nationalities creating or packaging items in foreign lands, then placing stickers that say “Made in USA” and/or American flag stickers.

In the video there are scenes of young children and foreign people making and packaging goods such as shoes, bananas, jeans, and remote controlled cars. It ends with scenes of the foreign people placing ‘Made In USA’ and American flag labels on packaged boxes, this acting is conveying the message of fair trade, this however doesn’t relate directly to the lyrics or song meaning.

In this particular video the actors play an important role because without them the bands message about fair trade and equal rights wouldn’t be illustrated accurately.

The elements of abstraction in this song is that the lyrics could have more than one meaning, some may perceive the narrative as a refugee talking to his son while others may think it is the lead singers personal experiences.

The themes in this video/song are society, government, power, loss, pride… these themes are relevant to the lyrics as the themes are reflected and relate to the lyrics. The band commonly sing about important political issues including war, fair trade, the government etc. but they themselves haven’t experienced any discrimination, judgement or mistreatment.

The band members and actors costume in the video aren’t any branded or designer expensive clothes, this illustrates the narrative of the video about the fair trade message. It also shows that the band isn’t concerned with image and their lyrics and music are what’s important.

This expresses the meaning of the artist because it shows that they aren’t solely concerned with themselves and that they care about others. They want to make songs that have a deeper meaning to them and others.

The costumes are relevant to the narrative because refugees don’t go round wearing designer clothes, they have the bare necessities to wear; just like people in less economically developed countries.

In the video the band is performing live in an empty grocery store, this is a typical feature for the rock genre as the music is the most important element for the artists. This performance is relevant to the lyrics because the lead singer is talking directly to someone, so having him physically singing in the video is vital.
The actors are relevant to the theme and narrative of the video because the videos message is about fair trade and how America take credit for the work other countries do. The actors are acting out the lives of people in third world countries who are working hard though they put ‘made in the USA’ stickers on the items they are making/packaging for other countries to consume.

The video includes low angle camera shots to intensify what the song lyrics are about and make them visually more important as well as lyrically more important and meaningful. At the point 01:59 in the video the editor has rotated the low angle wide shot of the lead singer performing while walking down the isle of the supermarket, the reason for this is to make the audience notice that the rotation of the shot wasn’t right and hopefully link it to the meaning of the video that things aren’t right with society and global affairs. During the video there are also shots where the camera is bouncing around at 00:44, this is to emphasize the style of music the band create as it matches the tempo and rhythm.

The camera styles are driven by the performance and narrative in the video, at the point 02:43 there is arching camera movement to emphasise the speed and pace of the song, it is also reflected in the lyrics because the singer is repeating himself and shouting louder as if he is frustrated that no one is listening to his message. The sped up arching shot adds excitement and makes the audience feel dizzy due to the speed and style of the song, this could have been driven by the artist and their musical genre/style.

The camera work aids the style of the video as there is a fast pace to the cuts when the music picks up, this matches the speed of the song and the excited enthusiastic performance of the band. The stop edit zooming at 00:55 used in the video, when the camera is focusing on the products in the shop, enhances the style of music because rock music is very loud and jumpy. This style of zooming would not look as effective in a slow soft pop song because it isn’t relevant to the sound of the music.

In the video there are slight colourization changes in the shots where the camera is looking at the actors who are supposed to be in other countries, this heightened contrast is adding a surreal element to the video that suggests a different situation from the world we know.

These same scenes are also in slow motion, this again reinforces the idea of a surreal element being included in the video because not only are these countries far away from us physically but the way they operate is far away from countries like Britain and the USA.

This aids the narrative because it defines the distinction between the actors in dark factories and warehouses and the band members performing in a clean, shiny store.

The pace of the editing is with the tempo of the song because while the songs tempo is fast the edit pace is also fast and when the tempo of the song decreases so does the edit pace.

There is voyeurism in the video because usually the actors representing foreign workers would not be filmed because the conditions and lack of recognition for their work is not something companies want to be publicized.

The video isn’t designed for either the ‘male gaze’ or the ‘female gaze’ because it is simply telling a story from a neutral point of view and the band doesn’t want to isolate a specific gender.

The band are represented as concerned for the foreigners working abroad who aren’t getting the acknowledgment that they deserve because their performance and attitude in the video is destructive and implies that they are frustrated. The props in the video are hit, thrown around and smashed to again reinforce the idea that the band members are aggravated and annoyed due to the ill-treatment of the foreign actors in the video, this is supported by the props being made to spell out ‘fair trade’ at the end of the video.

The target audience isn’t represented in the video but we assume that the band expect the target audience to agree with them.

The rebellious activity of the band in the video will attract the target audience because in the rock genre it is presumed that nobody follows rules and having a good time is more important that being good.

The clothing worn by the band is similar to what the target audience will be wearing, this could also influence them to agree with the bands actions and attract them to watch the video and share it with friends. The location of the video could be somewhere like ‘Wal-Mart’ which is somewhere that all of the target audience will be familiar with and this implies that the band are just like their fans going to the same places.

The American flag patterned jumper in the video and the huge American flag backdrop is a clear reference to America.

It suggests that in the narrative the country they are blaming is America because their flag is the only one included in the video. This is reinforced when the ‘Made in USA’ stickers are put on the boxes of items made by the foreign actors in the video.

The particular audience that will get this reference is most likely Americans because they will notice if they see the flag of their country.

It could be seen that the band are attempting to get Americans to agree with their views of American society and government systems.


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