Saturday, May 7, 2016

Radiohead, 9-11 and the Esoteric “Burn the Witch”

…the “Burn the Witch” video, which ends up resembling a bit of vintage UK cinema far more familiar to non-British viewers: ’70s horror film The Wicker Man. Teased since the mid-’00s, the song finds Thom Yorke intoning ominous commands like “Stay in the shadows/Cheer at the gallows” and “Abandon all reason/Avoid all eye contact.” Arriving at the current chaotic moment in global politics, though, and set in the quaint visual context of “Trumpton,” the “Burn the Witch” video plays as a pointed critique of nativism-embracing leaders across the UK and Europe, perhaps even the show’s near-namesake stateside (Donald Trump, anyone?).  
In that sense, “Trumpton” reflects the mythical small-town “family values” often championed by the sort of right-wing politicians who, let it be said, have never exactly been Radiohead’s cup of tea. The connection between “Trumpton” and far-right politics became explicit in 2014, when a Twitter user with the handle @Trumpton_UKIP began poking fun at the right-wing, populist UK Independence Party—and a UKIP politician called for a ban on the spoof account. Sad!

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