Sunday, September 26, 2010

Freddie, Please

So I had this idea today.

I was driving home from work and listening to Derek Webb's Stockholm Syndrome album and was struck with a very clear vision of what would make a fantastic music video. Sadly, I'm in no place to be making music videos for other people's music, but I thought I'd post the lyrics to the song, a link to the song, and then describe for you what I would do, should I ever be trusted with the responsibility of bringing the song to life in the form of music video.

The song is "Freddie, Please." An acoustic rendition of it, along with a full description of what inspired the song, can be found on YouTube. The short version is that Derek wrote a song that imagines what Jesus might say to Pastor Fred Phelps, should the two ever come face-to-face.

So here's my take on the song. It's a very slow song, almost dream-like. Derek describes it as a 50's doo-wop ballad.

It would begin with a montage of news coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church. We see them picketing soldiers' funerals, we see them picketing gay rights rallies, we see them picketing Comic Con -- it's a strange mixed bag of venom, hate, and bile. Through this montage, we have an actor who would be playing Fred Phelps. He begins spewing hatred from the pulpit, trying to rally people to his side. When his congregation takes up his cause, he stands back and watches with a pleased smile.

This is where the song would begin. As the music fades in and the chaos fades out, Fred would find himself suddenly alone, in a dream-like place filled with smoke and fog. He's confused, disorientated. Suddenly a voice sings out:

Freddie, please . . . how could you do this to me?
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!

The voice has no body. Freddie spins around, searching for he who is singing at him. But no-one can be seen. He closes his eyes, hoping and praying that this dream ends. With his eyes closed, he doesn't see the fog lift. But then he hears a voice. It's his own. He opens his eyes and finds himself at a soldier's funeral.

You know I love you honey,
But I'll bleed you dry with money . . .

Freddie sees the flag-draped coffin pass by him. He sees the soldier's comrades trying not to cry. He sees the soldier's family, a devastated mess of tears. Then, across the street . . .

I'll talk where I know you can hear . . .

Freddie sees himself, with a bullhorn, blasting the congregation as it passes by. His angry army surrounds him, with every vile sign you can imagine being brandished over their heads.

'Cause Freddie can't you see?
Brother, you're the one who's queer!

Freddie hears the words and he's repulsed. He's about to turn away when the entire congregation stops what it's doing. Everyone stares at him in hurt, angry, stony silence. The words of the song have become their own personal anthem.

Freddie, please . . . how could you do this to me?
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!

It's completely black. Early morning sunlight streams through a rectangular doorway as a massive round stone is rolled away. Through the doorway we see the silhouette of a man walking out into the light. It's Jesus. He basks in the new morning's sun for a moment, but only for a moment, as he's greeted by picketers. They yell and scream at him. They throw rocks at him, and Jesus does his best to defend himself with his nail-scarred hands.

The stone's been rolled away . . .
And you're picketing my grave for loving the things you hate . . .
But why do you see the living among the dead?

Freddie, in a very Scrooge-like manner, stumbles back into the fog and smoke. He denies this is true. He tries to deny everything, but then he stumbles into someone. He turns to see who he's run into. It's Jesus. And it's Jesus who has been singing to Freddie all along. Freddie reaches for Jesus, but he's just out of reach.

Freddie, please . . . how could you do this to me?
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!

A stage appears and Jesus, in white and blue, takes the lead microphone. He finishes the song in a very doo-wop sort of fashion, backed by every type of person Freddie has ever protested, hurt, or maligned. It's a strange sight, to be sure. But it somehow fits the dream-like quality of everything else he's seen and the fact that these words are coming from Jesus' lips is the most disturbing part of it all.

Freddie, please . . .
How could you do this to me?

Behind Freddie is the entire world and Freddie finds himself stripped to his essence. Everyone, including himself, sees him for the sham he is. Everyone sees how he's misrepresented everything he says he stands for. Everyone sees how he's not been speaking the words of God, but the hate-filled words of the devil. In fact, Freddie sees the devil to his right, applauding him magnificently.

How can you tell them you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!
When you hate me, Freddie, please!

The fog begins to swirl and the world goes away. The devil is covered up. The stage and Jesus disappear. Freddie, shaken to his core, is left alone. The fog lifts and Freddie is in his church, in the middle of the aisle, completely alone.

When you hate me, Freddie, please!

The songs ends and we're left in an eerie silence as we're also left to hope that this experience will have some sort of lasting effect on the angry old man.

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