Music Video Friday: Soul Asylum – Runaway Train

This week’s music video is Runaway Train by Soul Asylum.

I’m sure people remember this video well as it showed photos of actual missing teenagers (mostly runaways). I remember being quite fascinated (and upset) by this video at the time & I often wondered if any of the kids featured in the video had been found.

I hadn’t thought of the video in years until I started doing this Music Video Friday thing. After thinking of doing this one, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d now be able to easily Google it & find out if it really helped to find any of the missing teens. Not all the stories have happy endings, unfortunately, but the video’s director (Tony Kaye) claims that 26 of those featured were found. I think that’s fantastic.

Wikipedia has the most information that I could find (link HERE):

“There were three original versions of the video in the United States, totaling 36 missing children shown. Depending on what country the video was being broadcast, they would show children from that area who are missing. The version shown in Australia showed a number of young backpacking tourists whose families were looking for them. Several of them turned out to be victims of Ivan Milat, the Backpacker Murderer.

The UK version of the video featured Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol, who each went missing in 1991. Their remains were found in 2007 at a house in Margate. Peter Tobin has since been convicted of both murders.

Curtis Huntzinger, who was featured in the US video, was located deceased in 2008. His convicted killer, Stephen Daniel Hash, is currently serving a sentence of 11 years for manslaughter in Folsom State Prison.

The last image in all three U.S. versions of the song is Thomas Dean Gibson, who disappeared from Glendale, Oregon, in 1991 at the age of 2. He is still missing as of 2014, and age-progressed photos of him at age 19 and age 21 were released in 2009 and 2012, respectively, by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His father, Larry Gibson, a former deputy sheriff, was convicted of second degree manslaughter for accidentally shooting his son to death when he shot at a stray cat in his front yard even though no remains were ever found. He steadfastly denies killing his son and has worked on finding him since being released from prison in 1996.”

I also read in a couple of articles that the band would sometimes be approached by people who had been in the video & they weren’t all happy at having been found, as some had run away from bad situations at home. However, despite the sad stories (which are the only ones that are focused on in what I’ve been able to find), there were still 26 teenagers who were reunited with their families & I think the director and the band did the video with the right intentions. It’s great that a music video was used for a good cause instead of once again just featuring scantily clad women.

(But man I hate 90’s music like this, which I already had a rant about when I posted Blind Melon’s No Rain…). 😉 But I always appreciate a good video, whether or not I like the song. 

Here’s one version of the video:

American History X (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. She’s also reviewed Kill Bill: Vol 1& Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Thanks for the reviews, Abbi! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about American History X, IMDB rank 34 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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In probably his most celebrated role, Edward Norton plays Derek Vinyard, one of the leaders of a local White Supremacist group who is jailed after brutally murdering two African-American gang members attempting to steal his truck.

On the day of Derek’s release from prison, his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong) is called to the principal’s (Avery Brooks) office after writing an essay on Mein Kampfand its influence on the civil rights movement. Principal Sweeny then sets Danny the task of writing a new essay explaining the events that led to his brother’s arrest and conviction.

As Danny simultaneously attempts to unpick his brother’s past and deal with the fact that Derek has come back changed, both Derek’s former associates and enemies close in with devastating consequences.

As much as American History X may outwardly seem like a study on racism, more than anything it is an exploration of feelings of powerlessness and how they lead to anger and ultimately hatred and destruction. Derek’s prejudice against anyone who isn’t a white protestant has little to do with the actual target of his hatred but rather a desire to belong to a movement where he feels empowered. The irony of Derek’s belief that people of other races and religions are inferior to him is that those he hates are driven by exactly the same feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness that he is and act out with similar impulses… and it’s all a distraction from the way corporate America oppresses its poor.

There isn’t anything particularly unique about this story of a confused young man learning the error of his ways and not wanting his brother to follow in his footsteps but there are a number of elements that elevate American History X above other similar films.

First is the non-linear story-telling. Director, Tony Kaye, slowly reveals what is not only behind Derek’s change of heart but also his original prejudices concurrent with his current post-release experiences with the past shown in black and white. It keeps the audience hooked in until the end wanting to understand who Derek really is. It also adds a level of drama and grittiness to Derek’s past, demonstrating how he sees the world in completely black and white terms. In the present day his experiences are in full colour, showing how his perception has changed. It’s a simple but effective device.

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Second is the powerful performances. Edward Norton manages to capture Derek’s power, charisma and confidence but as he enters the prison system and his vision of the world starts to unravel his mask begins to slip and he moves from being a character it is easy to revile to a nuanced sympathetic one. Furlong also gives what is probably the only decent performance of his career as a boy at a crossroads with the potential to build himself and new future that doesn’t include repeating his brother’s mistakes. They are ably supported bythe two men who have the most influence over Derek’s life. Stacy Keach as Cameron Alexander, the fascist leader who lets Derek do his dirty work while he keeps his own hands clean and Avery Brooks as the educator who ultimately believes that Derek is capable of more than his past actions. Guy Torry is also engaging, playing Lamont, a fellow convict who ultimately breaks Derek’s prejudices through friendship.

Thirdly, Derek is never portrayed as stupid. Although his beliefs are abhorrent and there is no way to justify them, it is easy to see how his arguments convince the disempowered around him as well as how he has convinced himself. And the fact that the gangs he directs the majority of his rage at are hardly innocents adds to the believability.

Finally the film does not shy away from showing brutality of its characters, refusing to shy away from who they really are, with one particularly horrific scene proving to be the one thing that everyone remembers turning away from. And this is equally matched by some of Derek’s experiences in prison.

While there is no question that American History X is a powerful, hard-hitting film with a strong and valuable message on occasion it’s a little over dramatic and at times it strays towards predictability. It’s definitely a worthy entry to the IMDB top 250 though and one I would highly recommend. 4/5

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