Liberty Valance with the Pumped up Kicks / by Andrew Gelwick

I don't think we're a gun obsessed culture; I think we're a killer obsessed culture. The golden age of serial killers from the 1940s to the 1990s corresponds with the golden age of Westerns and the cowboy archetype is venerated not only for his ability to kill but for his social abilities. Usually country songs about cowboys are straight forward; The Ballad of Liberty Valance is a country song all about Liberty Valance and culminates in his death. I wanted to highlight this song at first because while it glorifies the antihero it also is honest in his death and doesn't go as far as Pumped Up Kicks. PUK, which came out almost 70 years after BLV, goes further by portraying the main character, a school shooter, not as an anti- but a full blown hero. WIth BLV, the subject and the content song are intertwined and there's even gunshots that correspond with the song's story. PUK has the same narrative tone as Valance but the songs "content" as an airy, indie pop song with a crooning chorus is the direct opposite of mass murder. The music video wisely is a tour video and not a narrative debacle but here we see juxtapositions of joyous performance against the mass murder subject.

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