It can be difficult to make a song for a video with a political message. You don't want to ignore your message and just have the video about something else. At the same time, though, you don't want to end up making a video like this one for Runaway Train by Soul Asylum. That's not so much a music video as it is a public service announcement.
So what do you do? Well, if you are a punk band from the '80s casting Ronald Reagan in your video is certainly a good start.
Check it out - This Ain't No Picnic by Minutemen:
What is the message of this song? I guess it is that working sucks. This is true. But Minutemen don't just mean that they don't like their jobs. Most jobs are demeaning. Most jobs could be done by anyone or by a machine and provide no satisfaction to the worker. Yet we need to work to pay for our lives. All of this is obvious. But Minutemen are mad about it!
The video opens with a plane. Where is it going? What does it represent?
Once we see who is flying the plane it becomes clear. The plane represents the Man.
That's Ronald Reagan! How did they convince him to appear in the video? How did they get him to look so young? I guess these answers are unknowable.
Minutemen harness the power of stock footage next. We see people on girders.
Guys moving some metal stuff while covered in grime.
Dudes lifting something heavy.
These jobs suck. I imagine that all of the men pictured died at 38 from massive body failure. I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said, "It ain’t no crime to be poor, but it might as well be." Well these guys are certainly criminals.
Speaking of criminals, look at these misfits at their jobs.
They are hard at work standing in an empty field rocking out. I really doubt, though, that being a Minuteman was a full-time job. It is really hard to be able to quit your day job as a musician. And the fact that they are so angry makes me think that they still had to work.
Ronald Reagan, sensing that class consciousness is arising, decides to find the dissidents and kill them.
Two of the musicians lean forward, yelling about their anger.
Due to the generally homophobic culture of the '80s their kiss is edited out.
Instead we see the bass player impotently waving his fist and shouting.
He's angry about his job. He's angry that he can't kiss who he wants in public. He's just angry.
I love that the drummer just has a snare drum. He is clearly marshaling the troops.
We get a good shot of the singer and the bass player shouting.
To cement his low class status, the singer has a terrible neck beard and is overweight.
Suddenly, the band is shot at.
It's amazing how this video is able to have these action sequences on such a low budget. It makes me mad how terrible so many newer videos are, mostly consisting of boring shots of the band on tour. Here is a video made for almost no money that has planes and gunshots. Use your ingenuity, people!
The singer looks up and spots his doom.
It's Ronald Reagan, grim faced.
The bombs fall and explode.
The band refuses to be silenced! They rock from the rubble! They rock from beyond the grave!
Ronald Reagan says, "Gee whiz! I almost didn't bomb those dissidents who have the gall to say that class exists in America!"
"But then I thought about my mother and I knew what to do."
This video definitely does not feel like a public service announcement, but it shows that Minutemen don't want to be treated like a machine. Punching in, moving metal, and then punching out. It's not for them. It's not for anybody. And they are mad about it!