Radiohead are perhaps the greatest band of the last 30 years, and whilst I admit to being a hopeless fanboy, I honestly believe I can state that objectively too. In just over 20 years and over 8 albums, they've managed to practically reinvent the concept of what it means to be a global superstar rock band, and have never fallen into monotony (cough Coldplay) or been dicks about it (cough U2). Their music has also soundtracked more commercials than I care to remember, but considering the band shifted record labels in 2007 to escape the major label clutches of Parlophone and the Warner Music Group, said major label now technically owns the rights to most of their back catalogue, so it's rare that the band themselves actually endorse the use of their songs, especially their pre-2007 songs. This then, is a rare case indeed.
“As a communication agency, it is our duty to intervene; it’s up to us to spread the word about this cause to the maximum number of people, to bring these taboos to light in order to solicit the collective conscience for these children” Jean-Patrick Chiquiar, Co-Founder of Rosapark
I'm referring to the powerful and deeply disturbing film recently launched by the Rosapark agency for the NGO Innocence in Danger organisation. Called simply “The Witness,” the film is a continuation of the Parisian agency's collaboration with the charity, which campaigns worldwide to protect children against all forms of sexual abuse. The agency's previous creations for the organisation both won awards and helped promote this all-important cause, and this latest piece might be the most thought-provoking and powerful yet. The film depicts a little girl in her room as she is being tucked into bed by an adult, one who is clearly a close relative or family friend. A stuffed bear sits on a nearby dresser and, as the camera pans onto him, we see a tear slowly form in the corner of his eye and roll down his cheek. The clip’s subtlety, however, leaves nothing to imagination and the audience is easily able to interpret the hell the young girl must be experiencing. The film ends with the tagline; “He can’t talk. You can,” followed by France’s national hotline.
The only sound throughout the film is the forlorn “Exit Music (for a film)” from Radiohead’s seminal “Ok Computer” album, and it might just be the second most powerful use of the song behind that one episode of Father Ted. The song, which was originally written to play over the credits of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet film, accompanies the movement of the camera, giving the film an extra dimension and further intensity that really drives home the message. In fact, the spot, and its use of the song, is so undeniably powerful that Radiohead themselves donated the rights to the song and outright refused any compensation.
“It is the duty of every citizen to do what they can to apply the law to these crimes so they can be stopped. We must intervene in order to protect these children” President of Innocence in Danger, Madame Homayra Sellier
Innocence in Danger works to educate the population about sexual aggression and is comprised of of activists, political influencers, economists and members of the media. The awareness campaign was created to coincide with International Children’s Day and the worldwide 26th convention of children’s rights and is currently on both the web and running on French television. It aims to bring attention to the fact that there are 4 million victims of incest in France, and in 4 out of 5 cases the abuse occurs before the age of 18. Only one third of victims are estimated to report complaints.
Of course, this is a charitable cause, so it could be argued how the band would look if they didn't give them their blessing, but this is a band who have only ever tied themselves to political causes in the past (such as Naomi Klein's “No Logo” manifesto. To my knowledge, Radiohead Gen, detest the idea of their songs being used in advertising, so this is a rarity to say the least, and underlines the strength of the cause and the campaign.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from the dark heart of Kidderminster in the UK who tried and failed to get tickets for the gig at the Roundhouse next month. If anyone has some going spare, it's not like I need TWO kidneys. Right?