15 December 2016 | Rodrigo_Amaro
Simple yet powerful.
In the words of a minor politician while hearing about a conflicting and damaging exposition of himself made by a rival during a debate, "I gotta respond to this". My review of this clip comes with a huge delay since I watched this some time ago and always wanted to write some words about it. Well, here they come. So, I gotta respond to this previous review. You're not getting the full context in which this was made and you already have some opposition to the Boss work. This is a video that must be seen objectively, just like the song. Otherwise, you'll get the very wrong idea of it.
For those who don't know, the video is directed by John Sayles, one of the strongest yet overlooked directors of all time, with a body of work that includes "Matewan", "City of Hope" and "Sunshine State", films that evoke the many social, racial and economical dilemmas of America throughout the years. I can only imagine how Springsteen and Sayles envisioned the idea for the clip - if not twisting arms, it was like "The song goes one way, the clip another way with some similar ideas in between and the wiser ones in the audience will get it". 90% didn't get it, neither the song or the clip. Plot twist: it's not a 'proud to be American song'. It's a powerful jab to the U.S. system back then, a system that made many young men go to the Vietnam to fight a war they didn't understand to later go back home and feel that they were undeserving of everything, including a job. Just one example because the clip is far from being political.
What do we get? A clip that presents Springsteen and E. Band Street performing the song along with some bright, happy and jolly images of America's daily life. Streets, roads, people in parks or some place. But there's also people in line waiting to get their money, workers or unemployed folks fighting their daily battles. And the song gets stronger in the background telling us about the tough reality faced by many and with the chorus going "Born in the USA" at loud voice, almost proud and patriotic but we know that's not the case. There's something wrong there, the sheer irony of it. All this opportunity to accomplish things yet there's nothing some of us can do, we're not allowed to it. Is this the American dream? And the clip closes with Bruce's iconic image with a cap hanging on his jeans, which became the cover image of that successful album. "I'm one of you, strugglers of America." That's the idea I get from it.
In terms of 1980's videos, it has its fair share of being one of the greatest of the era. It's not cinematic, it's just band performance and some ideas mixed in the middle but it's an instant classic. The song definitely makes it! Getting the general picture of what this is about it's all up to you. 9/10