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“What I’ve Done”, Linkin Park’s Call to Humanity

A Closer Look

Linkin Park has been there for many of us, especially as adolescents getting through our teenage angst. We found home in their honest and often times dark lyrics. In memory of Chester Bennington, we’re going to take you on a trip down memory lane, with one of their most important music videos.

It’s important to note that while LP was popular among the younger crowd, some of their biggest hits like “What I’ve Done” carry messages about the world we live in today. These themes are relevant to both the younger and older generation.

Ten years ago, the “What I’ve Done” music video was released. It has been nominated as the Best Hard Rock Performance at the 52nd Grammy Awards and MTV Music Video Award. It also won MTV’s Battle of the Videos against videos. 

This song is different from the usual Linkin Park songs: the lyrics less descriptive to form a tale. What I’ve Done’s lyrics address a personal guilt narrative. Yet, when combined with the video, the song revolves around universal guilt for global matters.

Man vs Nature Message:

Humanity is portrayed as destructive to both the Earth and it’s inhabitants: both human and non-human. This is  portrayal of mankind is ironic. Humans usually regard themselves as the saviors of the Earth. However, as LP’s video depicts, humans are the cause of world disasters. Issues of poverty and hunger, war, terrorism, environmental and public health matters were caused by humans. Major war criminals such as Stalin and Hitler were also showcased.

Despite the discouraging motif, the song weaves a thread of redemption and even hope for the future. Iconic peacemakers such  Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln were presented. The verse “so let mercy come and wash away” appears before the hook “what I’ve done”. The hook is also full of redemption: 

“What I’ve done
I’ll face myself
To cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done”

 Linkin Park is speaking on behalf of humanity.

The first scene shows grass growing back into the Earth and the last scene of the video presents the grass growing  back out of the Earth. These two scenes illustrate that these major events of living in the modern world are within a constant cycle. A cycle we must break through forgiveness, as suggested by the bridge :

“I start again
And whatever pain may come
Today this ends
I’m forgiving what I’ve done”

 

 

Another interesting scene throughout the video is the band’s actual performance. LP is shown to perform in a desert with a concert set-up. Symbolically, there is no audience in the desert. Their performance may be interpreted as a call to humanity before it is too late. Life will be extinguished unless we change.

MENA region:

Violence has been prevalent in the Middle East and North African region. The instability in this region has been displayed in the music video. Fast-paced clips of this modern-day issue are shown below:

 

The music video “What I’ve Done” reveals fast-paced snippet of a Middle Eastern woman being shoved by men of authority.
Credits: Almost Midnight Productions
A snippet showcases political groups, such as Jihadists, that contribute to violence around the world.
Credits: Almost Midnight Productions

 

Towards the end of the video, slow-paced clip portrays a Middle-Eastern child holding a AK-47.
Credits: Almost Midnight Productions

 

While this video came out a decade ago, it is unfortunate to mention that these modern world issues are still prevalent and ever-expanding. Whether you are a fan of Linkin Park or not, this video was truly well-done and carries a global theme. May his soul rest in ever-lasting peace, we can only applaud his success in making our childhoods memorable.

 

 

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