I do not know how many of you out there listen to Pink Floyd. Another Brick In The Wall, a song by the timeless band, makes you think. The song hits you hard. It makes you contemplate about your life, about what you are doing.
Roger Waters’ voice affects you. You can’t help sitting up straight and it fills you with a feeling of inspiration and energy. You cannot help head banging or doing something to keep up with the beats. The song is powerful and infectious. The starting is interesting. “We don’t need no education”. If education in today’s world primarily means the authorities telling us precisely what we need to know or don’t, we don’t need it. If it means that in the case our thoughts do not conform to the norms of society, they will be abolished, then education is unimportant. The syllabi of the schools are shaped by governments. What they feel is incorrect or if one work of art goes against the idealism of the authorities, it will be taken down or even more, banned. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was banned in the Vatican City because the church thought that the book was blasphemous. They thought that the book might affect the Christian faith. The place where it strikes the most is that the Church pre-ordained the faith of the people to be so fleeting that they felt reading a single book would shake the foundation of the entire religion. They are afraid of people knowing the truth. But shouldn’t it be the opposite? Don’t we tell our loved ones that I love you as you are? Shouldn’t people love Jesus more after knowing in entirety who He actually was?
The lyrics are biting. It slaps the authorities right on the face. The song is basically telling the people in power to show us the way of harnessing our thoughts and dreams instead of destroying them. We are forced to follow the crowd, be conventional. If we dare to be different, we are cut down. Authorities attack and try to hunt us down like wolves chasing fresh meat. They love discipline and in the process of educating and training us, they are creating a pack of zombies without any originality. We learn to socialise, learn manners and are groomed into civilised people. We wear the same masks, trying to fit in because most of us do not have the courage or the strength of standing out. We might like the concept of it but when our turn comes, we let it go. In turn, we give up our individuality and become just another brick in the wall.
The video captures the essence perfectly. The opening part shows a professor in his scholarly robes and hat holding a cane, screaming at school children. The children are wearing masks, distorted ones. Then the video focuses on a little boy who is harrowed, breathing labouredly, traumatised, panting, and leaning against the wall. As the video progresses we see a boy humiliated in front of the entire class for writing poems. The teacher calls his work “absolute rubbish”, hits him, and goes on with his teaching of the pre-ordained syllabus. Then the camera moves to the very famous factory setting where the kids enter, wearing masks. They move in fixed lines, and sit in carts, and finally jump into a meat grinder that grinds and minces them. They all come out looking the same, in the form of meat sausages. The teacher is seen beating up students who do not accord to tradition. He screams that those who do not eat their meat do not get puddings. But finally, there’s a rebel. The children break down benches, chairs and walls, as they refuse to be cloned anymore. They torch down the entire system as they rejoice and march out.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the on travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
These lines by Robert Frost seem like a luxury to most of us. A luxury we can never afford. Rather, a luxury that our conscience is unable to afford.
But the thing is, enough damage has already been done. And it is high time that the children should be left alone. There are extreme resemblances between this song and the movie The Dead Poet’s Society. The movie teaches us how to fall in love with a subject, not fear and abhor it. It shows how the students rise up in rebellion and everyone except a few ascends to the chant of “O Captain, My Captain”. John Keating(a.k.a. Robin Williams) and Pink Floyd does the same thing, they motivate us. Both the movie and the song climaxes to an ending that fills our body with goosebumps as angry tears well up. We feel like screaming with Rogers, affirming that we really do not need an education and do not need our thought process to be reined in. We want the freedom of thought, the freedom of expression.
But the question is, can we bring about a rebellion?
– Diyali Bhattacharya.