‘Handlebars’ by Flobots

July 25, 2008

I don’t think I’ve watched a music video with this much symbolism, imagery, and metaphorical content since, well, ever. You’ll probably need to watch it at least a couple of times to catch the details I outline below, so first, watch the video and enjoy it (I highly recommend full-screen mode):

Then, consider the following:
  • Symbolism of handlebars
  • Significance of letter ‘C’
  • The consequences of being able to dismantle a remote control, while being unable to assemble it again — whilst being represented as a single, dirty apple mixed in a group of supposedly good apples
  • Why not rap to a metronome? What’s the significance of the girls who jump rope slightly off-beat from the drums, which happen to sound like a metronome?
  • Usage of birds in multiple instances
  • Why are ‘new antibiotics’ represented by a winking beauty eye with too much makeup?
  • What irony is visible when he ‘sees the future?’ What does the chart represent?
  • Radiation causing cancer as a consequence to a supposed advancement
  • Color of money
  • Color of blood in death of rebels
  • Image of Abu Ghraib torture
  • Symbolism of the mixed architecture of the tower
  • What’s the final message?
Not sure why I’m nostalgic for my college writing classes, but apparently I am. I’ll follow up later via another post with answers to all of the above, as well as a final thesis and analysis.
- Ryan


  1. Comment by Amanda on July 25, 2008 9:26 am

    Here is what I noticed:
    People Dancing
    -Poster at the beginning
    -Dancing to record during metronome

    -Green at the beginning
    -Red, black and white after

    Cracked sidewalk

    Dark cloud behind girls jumping rope

    People kissing on “Rough Seas” billboard

    Multiple use of power lines, helicopters

    Dark bird kills the white bird and black jet flies over

    Wire to the camera flies in the same way that the line chart progressed

    When the atom splits, it bleeds black

    There is a red gate behind the wall with the camera

    The bottom of the mismatched building looks just like the White House

    Fists on shields

  2. Comment by Mimi on July 27, 2008 5:11 pm

    Whoa! Seriously intense video. I like the juxtaposition of the two extremes and how they are blended together. Like the white bird being grabbed by the black bird. The white bird leaves a black stain in the sky. It seems too as if the people who are supposed to be the bad guys in the end have shock on their faces, that they don’t know what they’ve done. I feel like I could watch it many more times and not see everything. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Comment by Kumail on October 16, 2008 7:17 pm

    What does it mean when the wall with the white dove breaks?

  4. Comment by Kumail on October 24, 2008 4:41 pm

    When the protester’s bleed, they bleed white, representing purity.

  5. Comment by Kumail on November 4, 2008 6:09 pm

    A black bird fly’s over the dude that goes “corporate” while the other guy has a bunch of birds of every color.

    The wall with the white dove breaks to make room for more corporate stuff as advertised in the billboard next to it.

  6. Comment by ravenshaw on March 11, 2009 8:57 pm

    no, the wall being knocked down is representing the way that the corportation (thats what the letter c represents) is taking away free spirit and replacing it with the desolate future with individuality or hope or expression or any of that.
    well thatsmy opion anyway, (im thinkin i might write a book on the music video just for fun

  7. Comment by joel on June 8, 2009 10:07 am

    there is a whole lot of symbology in this video , but my interpretation is 2 freinds carefree at the beginning that choose 2 diffrent paths ,one a rebel one a war profiteer , a greedy one at that, they have war dominating peace all over this video , the hawk killing the dove and then a fighter jet flies over top, the wall with the painted dove being broken down , in a way this is almost insulting america, how the states got away from freedom..

  8. Comment by Sydney Chilton on February 6, 2012 4:09 am

    Im obliged for the blog article. Keep writing.

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