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You keep your riches and I'll sew my stitches,
You can't make me think like you, mundane.
I've got a message for all those who think that
They can etch his words inside my brain
T.V., what do I need?
Tell me who to believe!
What's the use of autonomy
When a button does it all?
So listen up,
Glisten up closely all,
Who've seen the fuckin eye ache too.
It's time to step away from cable train
And when we finally see the subtle light,
This quirk in evolution will begin
To let us live and recreate
T.V., what do I need?
Tell me who to believe!
What's the use of autonomy
When a button does it all?
T.V., what should I see?
Tell me who should I be?
Lets do our mom a favor and drop
A new god off a wall.
Let me see past the fatuous knocks.
I've gotta rid myself of this idiot box!
Let you see past the feathers and flocks,
And help me plant a bomb in this idiot box!
From the depths of the sea
To the tops of the trees
To the seat of a lazy boy...
Staring at a silver screen!!

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  • U
    UnregisteredSep 7, 2011 at 5:00 am
    Just wrote a paper on this song, and didn't see any opinions already out there. The song is full of meaning, so I'm just gonna post my opinion on it.

    Musicians often use their fame and following to promote protest against current political, economic, or social conventions and events. By reaching people through their music, the artists attempt to meet people halfway and give their message in a song, packaged in a way to ease the statement into the plane of listeners' logic. Placing too much emphasis on the message makes an unpopular song, and too little makes the purpose unclear. The best way to promote the idea is to integrate it seamlessly into the song without losing clarity of meaning or quality of music. Incubus in their song Idiot Box manages to push forth an anti television statement through stages of aggression, sarcasm, incitement, fortification, plea, and explanation while balancing this clarity and quality.
    The first few lines of the song convey a feeling of agitation as the singer, Brandon Boyd, resists foreign messages and struggles for independence. His message is directed towards any individual who pushes an idea onto him, and he furiously tells them that he is better off alone than with the advice they are trying to give. His opening statement, "you keep your riches and I'll sew my stitches" parallels the quote from Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World (pictured on right), "Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches." Brandon is implying that he would rather appear poor and sew stitches on his torn clothes than to listen to the media and buy replacements so he can look presentable. His angry statements drill in his passionate message of resisting what he's told to be.
    To foster his point further, the chorus chimes in with sarcastic compliance with television's demands. Agreeing with his opposition reveals the fundamental problem with watching and listening to television. He asks, "what's the use of autonomy when a button does it all?" recognizing the ease with which man can lose himself to being fed what he wants to hear. Brandon's concern is half television and half human nature, and since television is out of his control, he seeks to alter his listeners' opinion of it.
    After demonstrating the seriousness of the problem he is fighting, Brandon moves to a statement of his mission and motive. Whereas the rest of the song is fairly structured and has a basic rhyme scheme, this verse has no clear distinction between lines and no rhyme whatsoever. This stray from the common structure intensifies Brandon's emotional pull and signifies his disregard for lyrical flow during the blatant statement of his message and calling on his listeners. The change in rhyme and style awakens the listener and causes him or her to listen more closely, which is what the singer intends as he rallies his fans. He addresses his listeners and compels them to stop watching the "cable train" and submitting to its social demands. He states that once they finally are free from it entirely, they will be able to enjoy life again as before it came about. He calls television a "quirk in evolution" showing his belief that, although it has always been beneficial in causing only the fittest to survive, evolution hit a snag when humans invented it. He hopes that man will step past this stumbling block and continue to improve through evolution. Brandon's mission is to steer his listeners away from television and his motive is to better mankind.
    Repetition is always important for memorization, and the chorus does just this for Brandon's protest. After logically appealing to the listeners by saying how harmful television is for humanity, the chorus comes back with an emotional tug using the possible outcome of continuing with the current situation. The song also demonstrates a sort of 1984 Ministry of Truth association with television being the holder and manipulator of the information given to the public (depiction of Ministry of Truth on left). Fear of being controlled by the media works to scare the listener into agreeing with Brandon's argument and reminds him or her of the goal television has for society according to Brandon.
    Delving further into an emotional appeal, the subsequent verse pleads with the listener to assist in destroying the "idiot box". Brandon in a panicked tone asks to see past the enticing allure of television and leave it forever. During this verse he screams which heightens the stress and increases the verisimilitude of his devotion to his claims. For the only time the entire song, the rhyme remains consistent during these four lines and therefore also assists in the amplification of emotion. First trying himself to ignore the TV and destroy it, Brandon then moves to the listener, begging him or her to join him and "plant a bomb in this idiot box." To join him, he or she must overlook the "feathers and flocks" of television which appear to symbolize the beautiful plume of a peacock. Despite television's magnetism, the audience is now emotionally pulled toward Brandon's plea.
    The last four lines of Idiot Box read deeper than at first glance. "From the depths of the sea, to the tops of the trees, to the seat of a lazy boy; staring at a silver screen" not only takes the listener through adventurous environments to only find him or her back in front of the TV, but it follows Brandon's earlier statement about evolution. The depths of the sea stands for the start of life in the oceans, the tops of the trees stands for man's land-dwelling ancestors, and the seat of a lazy boy reveals the result of everything. Brandon's last statement is that the human race developed such complexity and survived through so much only to finish in a chair wasting away in front of his own invention. This last jab at television invokes a sort of obligation on the part of the listener to act against laziness because of everything humans went through to become what they are today. It is not only right to stand up in protest to this threat against progress, but it is each person's duty to resist the seducing voice of the media.
    In only a single song, Incubus's Idiot Box is able competently raise and support an argument by cycling through waves of anger, emotion, logic, and responsibility while maintaining a quality sound. The statement that Brandon Boyd wanted to convey was seamlessly integrated with the music in a way pleasing to the ears, accomplishing his goal of marketing his claims. Balancing the intensity with which he pushed his message with the poetic flow of his words, Brandon created a masterpiece of style and meaning.

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