Analysis 7: “Basket Case” ~ Green Day

24 09 2007

I haven’t been skiving, I’ve been really ill, so thanks everyone for caring.  To make up for it, I analysed another video.

Green Day are a very popular band, but they’re also a controversial band because they keep alienating significant portions of their fanbase. This song was a single from Dookie, the band’s major label debut. I’ve chosen it to analyse because of the unusual techniques used in it.

1. This video was shot in an insane asylum, and one of the first sights we see is of men in white coats and a steel shutter door being closed. The whole video was shot in black and white, and then colourised, contributing to the eerie, demented feel of the video. Visible in the first shot is a masked inmate who’s mask is the only thing that is colourised, making him look odd and out of place. We see close ups of the music equipment being set up, and a white-suited guy presents a rather nervous and confused Billie-Joe Armstrong (i.e. one who looks like is suffering from some kind of breakdown) with a guitar. He abruptly comes out of character and begins to play.

2. The other band members are wheeled in. It is clear that they are inmates, both by their slightly confused and abnormal behaviour and the way people in white coats are directing them around. This is especially apparent for Mike Dirnt. Close ups are used to show Armstrong’s eyes darting around nervously as he sings. Note that this song is itself about a kind of mental breakdown, so the video fits the lyrics quite well.

3. In the second verse, we see Armstrong standing against a white wall in a shower room. A high-angled camera shot makes him look small and insignificant, and yet his black clothes make him stand out. We see Tré Cool being wheeled down a corridor in a wheel chair by a white-coated man – note one of the masked dudes like the one at the start in the background. It cuts back to Armstrong (the room is more clearly identifiable as a shower room in this instance) and then to Dirnt, who is looking bored, resting his head in his hands.

4. This seems an appropriate place to comment on the performance element of the video. We see plenty of shots of different band members playing the song, as though performing live (they may well play like this in the studio too, I guess). Frequent cuts from different angles stop the audience from losing interest. A brief cut to Dirnt staring out of a window, perhaps in desperation, cuts back to him performing, then a shot of Armstrong is obscured by a masked figure walking past the camera. A barrage of rapid cuts echoes the machine gun-like drum roll. Note more masks.

5. Cool is wheeled to a counter where a white-coated woman provides him with some sort of medicine or drug. He grins as he swallows it. “Grasping to control..” sings Armstrong as the camera pans around, showing various people behind him. The pan is jerky, as though performed with a handheld camera, contributing to the surreal nature of the video.

6. OK, so what about those people in masks wandering around? They seem to be doing a lot of strange things, creeping around, playing with exercise balls, and coming right up to the camera. They seem to be the inmates, and they remain uncolourised (except the masks themselves) throughout, which makes them look decidedly weird. More so even than the drugs we are shown close ups of. There is more crazy stuff as first Cool, and later Armstrong, is surrounded by flying fishes and his own eyes – a hallucination caused by the drugs seen earlier, perhaps? It’s interesting to note that Cool smiles whereas Armstrong looks kind of confused. Dirnt smashes a window in a fit of apparent frustration.

7. The video is full of bright colours which makes it seem simplistic and, at the same time, OTT. This contributes to the feelings of crazyness. We see a white coated man inspecting the window that Dirnt smashed, which I found rather amusing.

8. At the end of the video, the metal shutter is closed in front of the camera. This place is closed, and it seems Green Day are to remain inside. Through the shutter we see them stop playing and just stand there.

Kind of loopy, kind of disturbing,  or a clever portrayal of anxiety disorder?  Make what you will of it.  Personally, I think it rocks, but that’s just me.  Make up your own mind on YouTube.

 Fingers crossed I’ll be back in school tomorrow.  The least catching up I have to do, the easier time I’ll have.




3 responses

24 09 2007


awesome song!, awesome vid!, and ofcource.. preformed by the greatest f*ckn band (well i like to think so, disagree? get lost, why are you on this page anyway =] )

25 09 2007

Yeah, they’re kickass.

19 08 2010

wonder if they would have loved or hated this Japanese version of Basket Case from Puncolle Punk

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