Suppression of Individuality in Radiohead's, Fake Plastic Trees

780 Words Jun 22nd, 2018 4 Pages
Suppression of Individuality in Radiohead's, Fake Plastic Trees

"Fake Plastic Trees" criticizes how modern society stifles individuality and forces people to swallow idealized conceptions of how life should be. The whole song centers on the idea that humans, either through their own fallibility or through society's relentlessness, easily and obliviously mold their lives according to the unspoken standards they set on themselves. The result is a shallow, artificial, "fake plastic" living that perpetuates itself and destroys uniqueness.

The first two verses, which reveal the tragic consequences of pretense, evoke feelings of despair and pointlessness. The image of a woman watering a plastic money tree is heavily shadowed by shades
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It's very unnatural to change yourself or survive in a place that offers no room for personal development. It's also frustrating (for the few people who choose not to fill this mold) to put your heart into something artificial.

She lives with a broken man

A cracked polystyrene man

Who just crumbles and burns

The second character introduced provides an example of the absolute deterioration of a person who has unsuccessfully tried to fill his niche in society. Descriptive phrase like "broken" and "cracked polystyrene" paint a picture of a crumbling, wrecked mold victim to external undoing. Years of adhering to society have cracked the man's resolve and razed his spirit, leaving him useless and non-contributing (a message about communism, perhaps? hehe).

He used to do surgery

For girls in the eighties

But gravity always wins

The next verse is a specific criticism of facades. The eighties marked the heyday of cosmetic surgery, ushering in a genre of image obsession and appearance alteration. For many people, plastic surgery was a panacea to life's problems, a way of handling the aesthetic imperfections that society places so much negative emphasis on. But changing how you look is only a superficial way of feeling better about yourself, so it's not surprising that Yorke associates this form of surgery with artificial gain.
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