The word “freedom” is a blood-stained currency in the mouths of many politicians. When warmongering zealots use the word, it’s usually to inspire fear of the other, or to justify the oppression of a perceived enemy. In this context, “freedom” becomes a heavy word, one that carries more menace than hope.
When Chicano Batman use the word “freedom,” it’s to reassert something no one can take away from us, even when it’s being deployed by bloodthirsty politicians. “How are you going to tell me that I have to pay for my freedom? How are you going to tell me that you are fighting a war in the name of my personal freedom? I’m completely free inside since the day I was born. And we all have it inside of us, it’s just a matter of peeling the layers of miseducation that we’ve been taught since grade school,” singer Bardo Martinez told our own Beverly Bryan on the eve of the release of their latest album, appropriately titled Freedom Is Free.
Six months after the release of the LP, CB are back with a video for the title track of the song, a masterfully shot clip that exemplifies the band’s message in a brutal yet beautiful way. In it, we see the band members being tortured by waterboarding. Eventually, the members manage to liberate themselves from their oppressors only to jam out for the last few seconds of the video.
The clip is directed by Carl Zitelmann, who explains the concept in a press release. “When you are in an oppressive situation, one of the most dangerous things that could happen to you, other than dying, is losing yourself and becoming something you are not. Oppressors usually design situations so people succumb to racism, hate, resentment, etc., in order to benefit their agendas. The purpose of showing the band both peacefully and defiantly in a circumstance as extreme as being tortured by drowning was exactly that: you can take away the air from me, but you can’t change ME. ‘You can’t control how I feel, no way.’ Remaining who you are, even under the most excruciating situations, is the ultimate success.”
Watch the clip above.
Chicano Batman’s Freedom is Free is out now on ATO Records.