Land Of Confusion

By | Wednesday, September 15, 2021 Leave a Comment
I'm a big fan of Genesis from way back. It was originally because the front man for the band when I first discovered them was also the drummer, Phil Collins. As a budding drummer myself, I really appreciated that. They haven't come out with any new albums, much less any new music in years. But I've been thinking about them a bit more lately because they're planning one final tour. (And despite many rock stars doing farewell tour after farewell tour, it's hard to imagine Collins' health will hold out for that. He's recently stated he can't hold his drum sticks to even attempt to play, and his vocal range and intensity have radically diminished. This last tour, with Collins being limited to singing from a chair for the entire show, will undoubtedly be their last tour. At least with the 'traditional' line-up for the band. I suppose they could try bringing Ray Wilson back for vocals and letting Collins' son Nic continue to play drums, but with Mike and Anthony in their 70s themselves, that seems unlikely. But I digress...)

Soon after discovering Genesis, I was thrilled to soon discover they paid tribute to Winsor McCay with the song "Scenes from a Night's Dream" from their 1978 album …And Then There Were Three… But one of their songs that soon caught my (and popular!) attention was "Land of Confusion" from their 1986 album Invisible Touch. It did well on the charts (#4 in the US and #14 in the UK). It spoke to a lot of the concerns and fears I know I had in the mid-1980s, but one thing that struck me was the Superman reference in the lyrics...
Superman, where are you now?
When everything's gone wrong somehow
The men of steel, the men of power
Are losing control by the hour
This was emphasized in the video as the Ronald Reagan character dons a Superman style suit and races off to the save the day... only to get distracted by the television.

(As an interesting aside, the visuals pay tribute to another Superman reference in a song by a different artist. Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" includes the line "You don't step on Superman's cape!" Which is precisely how Reagan is halted in the "Land of Confusion" video.)

Seemingly to reinforce the comic connection of the song, the metal band Disturbed did a cover of "Land of Confusion" in 2006 and hired Todd McFarlane to create the video. McFarlane's visuals were decidedly less comedic and much darker, despite using many of the same visual ideas. In this version, the protagonist is based off "The Guy" mascot of the band's previous albums and given super powers, including super strength, flight and an energy punch. Despite this, however, the Superman reference in the lyrics is largely dismissed -- a scrap of paper with an "S" flies across The Guy's chest during the lyric and he quickly discards it.
The Guy's original character design was by David Finch, and the cover art for Ten Thousand Fists that was used as the basis for the video was by Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo. McFarlane talked about the development of the video in a short making-of documentary. (This link is only to part one, but you can follow through to the other parts easily enough from there.)

One more comic connection for the song. It was even more recently covered in 2011 by Katzenjammer, a Norwegian band whose name is directly a tribute to the Katzenjammer Kids, who they felt they resembled. (Presumably more in spirit than in physicality.) While their video is primarily live action shots of them playing, it also features cartoony animations and some classic visual idioms from comics. Including (most of) the iconic "S" shield.
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