The Internet cannot stop talking about and reacting to an intense music video that has racked up more than 1.2 million views on Youtube since its release. This dense, multi-layered video has people trying to unravel the meaning of the shocking imagery. I am referring, of course, to Hoobastank's "This is Gonna Hurt," released in 2012. Now it's time for me to put on my professor hat and try to figure this one out like everybody else is doing.
The video begins with the title, "This is Gonna Hurt", and a weary-looking man beginning his morning routine. The music we will later hear in full is playing on a clock radio that is barely audible as the man brushes his teeth. The first shocking moment that got this video trending is when the man spits his toothpaste in the sink, looks at the mirror, and sees a hideous bug creature.
This is a reference to Franz Kafka's the Metamorphosis, in which a man turns into a cockroach. The book is a known favorite of the 'Stank. What does it mean here? Insects are traditionally thought of as "lowly" creatures. But as we will see later in the video, there is a lot more going on here than it even seems.
Cut to the man opening a drawer of cutlery. Everything is very neatly arranged and there is only one of each utensil, indicating the man probably lives alone or needs to do some dishes. The fork is slightly out of alignment so the man straightens it. Real attention to detail.
He pours himself a bowl of cereal and that is when we have another shocking moment when the toy inside falls out into his cereal. That's right, it's a gun. Even at the breakfast table, he is haunted by the specter of America's gun violence.
The man does not seem overly concerned with the gun in his cereal, but as he is finishing the bowl he receives a messages in the cereal's letters: BURN IT DOWN. This gives him pause, but only for a moment. The phrase "burn it down" might be a reference to fire making something fall down. The Twin Towers on 9/11 were destroyed by fire according to the official government study, but close reads of Hoobastank's other videos know the truth. Burn it down here refers to a metaphorical building or system that is inside us all.
As the man is going to his car, he sees a three-eyed puppet who tells him, "Give 'em hell, Charlie." Hell is referenced in the Bible as a place where the fallen angels were cast down and where sinners go. This line suggests Charlie is a fallen angel, meant to "give hell" to sinners.
Cut to Charlie being told it is almost time to go on. He is busy arranging things into a neat row. He appears to be partway through his transformation ("Metamorphosis" - Kafka) into a giant bug. We see other characters including a black man talking to a white woman (a sin), men watching in a control room with many screen (God), and a small girl receiving an autograph from Charlie. Notable here, he is using a red marker. Red like blood.
"The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." - God (The Bible). Charlie is about to wreak holy vengeance aka burn it down.
Charlie is by the craft services table where he has arranged carrot sticks into a neat row. The lead singer of a band about to perform (played by Doug Hooba lead singer of Hoobastank) messily chews one of the carrots before carelessly messing up the arrangement on the plate.
This pushes Charlie over the edge. As he completes his transformation into the giant insect, he begins screaming and thrashing. Charlie, now a bug, goes on a sort of rampage as Hoobastank finally begins to play (4 minutes into the video).
As Doug Hooba sings the line "I can see that the end is near" we see the control panel burning and God is unable to stop the destruction.
Several times you see the band playing in the background while Charlie is knocking over garbage cans or smacking into people in the foreground.
Charlie arms himself with an ax and we think surely that people are going to be decapitated. Instead, Charlie only wants to restore the carrots, just as America rebuilt the Twin Towers destroyed on 9/11.
Despite performing this act, as Hooba says, "That's how it's gonna be." Charlie ends up in a police car (chariot of hell) going to jail (the hell realm) to be punished (have his testicles exploded and grow back over and over again for eternity).
As Hooba says, "This is Gonna Hurt" and when you think about it, it does.
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