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Music Video: Broken Bells’s “The Ghost Inside”

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Music Video: Broken Bells’s “The Ghost Inside”

I’ve spent much time elsewhere prattling on about my distaste for robots and my fear of the Robot Apocalypse, but when I heard that the new music video for Broken Bells’s “The Ghost Inside” (directed by Jacob Gentry) was to star Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks (I love her) as a robot, naturally I had high hopes that, for once, I could lay off the robo-haterade because the Robot Apocalypse would be led by Hedricks, which means the Robot Apocalypse demands glamour. Fabulous, glorious, poolside-cocktails-and-retro-sunglasses glamour:

Then again, this is the Robot Apocalypse, after all: a lonely, post-apocalyptic landscape—or in this case, space-scape—where things grow increasingly bleak, which is exactly what happens in this music video. “Even for robots?” you ask.


Boo! Don’t get me wrong. I adore Jacob Gentry’s style and the way this video has visual flourishes that seem to pay homage to Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens, two films that found intoxicating ways of visually articulating the anxiety and desolation found at the edge of space. Added to that, this song makes me want to go out and shake the hands of Danger Mouse and James Mercer. “The Ghost Inside” is the sort of lilting, sorrowful indie electro-pop that pricks up my ears and plays my heartstrings like a keytar. Most importantly, though, casting Hendricks as your robot is a surefire way to make me do the next-to-impossible and feel emotionally invested in a robot (a feat previously accomplished only by Bishop and the cast of WALL-E); she’s charismatic and expressive, which makes her so capable of engendering our sympathies. Seriously, with these separate elements combined into a single work of sc-fi pop art, “The Ghost Inside” is something exquisite and haunting.

That all said, you mean to tell me Robot Christina Hendricks sacrifices near life and literal limb in hopes of affording herself the small pleasures of a pretty dress and a martini by the pool, spends over 100 years of solitude in a robo-coma, is then refitted with new limbs by Broken Bells and transported to Fabulous Planet BB114, which is no longer fabulous at all and instead very much a dilapidated desert wasteland? I’m all for employing dramatic irony to heighten tragedy, particularly when you’re the music video for a song about great sacrifice in pursuit of an ultimately empty dream. But, again, boo.

I don’t think I’ve felt so much Christina Hendricks-exacerbated sadness since Joan Holloway played the accordion for the guests of the dinner party held in honor of her failure-of-a-doctor husband—the one that made her quit her job at Sterling Cooper and rob her of her working woman ambitions—in the third season of Mad Men. I wanted “Domo arigato, Mrs. Roboto,” but instead I got this:

Sad Robot

So, curses to you, once again, robots! Even when you’re not giving me nightmares of impending doom, you’re still ruining my day! (Though kudos to Gentry, Hendricks, and Broken Bells for the effort.)

Benjamin Horner spent his days in school studying English, journalism, and cinema studies. He currently tends to a little corner of the Internet where camp is queen, Nobody Puts Baby in a Horner.