So I'm not going to ruminate upon what I think of this video. I'll let the newly famous and unmasked Rude Pundit do it for me.
Now, in the video for the seemingly straightforward power ballad "Wake Me Up When September Ends," Green Day makes an answer to every Army-of-One bullshit ad. The video begins with a sappy teen love story, complete with the music low and the dialogue audible, until we see the weeping teenage girl going up to the teenage boy, begging to know if what she heard is true. The boy explodes that she doesn't understand, and then we see what they're talking about, with the boy going off in a bus, having his head shaved, being trained by the military, and sent to an urban battlefield that is presumably Iraq.
There, guitars peaking in the background, we watch as the boy's patrol comes under fire from an unseen enemy, with explosions and bullets all around them. As he watches his fellow soldiers being hit, we see the boy, scared, confused, hidden in one of the bombed out buildings. The thing is that it's filmed as if it is one of those Army or Marine ads, except it looks fucking scary. And then it ends with the teenage girl back at home, sitting on bleachers. We don't know if the boy lives or dies (perhaps there's a sequel in the offing?), but we know that the innocence of the early part has been compromised, and that there's no way that girl and that boy can ever connect again.
Simple. A bit sappy. And as effective as a mallet to the head. Or that bleeding heart grenade on the cover of the album itself.
I'll also note the role of economics subtly implied in the video: the girl pays for their fast food, and the boy has no suit when they wed, so it seems pretty clear that there's a class argument on the floor as well. His insistence that "I did this for us! I thought you of all people would understand!" is gut-wrenching, ripping away the veneer that "only true patriots join up," or whatever invective is being slung at folks like Cindy Sheehan this week.
Look, I know these kids. I teach in a small town community college. More than that, I come from the working class and while, in some places, each generation may expect to live a little better than their parents, in my world, each generation lives a little worse. Thers and I both work to maintain the house my father built on one salary, and the children of my siblings are struggling to pay for educations and even to find jobs. One of my nieces is married to a man who was talking to recruiters as a way out of financial difficulty: that's what I think of when I see this video. Important difference though: they have two kids under three. Green Day probably thought that would be too overwrought and melodramatic, however.