What do The Munsters and Quentin Tarantino have to do with each other? Well, leave it to the over-the-top pop-punk maestros in Fall Out Boy to connect those two unlikely pop culture dots on “Uma Thurman.”
The band’s mind-bending mashup samples the surf-guitar melody of The Munsters’ theme song, then pairs it with a stream-of-consciousness narrative about a girl who “wants to dance like Uma Thurman” did in Pulp Fiction.
Among other things.
Because as is generally the case with this problematically playful band (or perhaps playfully problematic), the song’s madcap lyrics careen between silly wordplay, not-silly-at-all sensuality and head-scratching pseudo-theological outbursts that might be serious … or not.
And that’s before we even get to the equally madcap—and subversively political—video.
Fall Out Boy songs are often less about a coherent, consistent narrative and more about intentionally jarring juxtapositions of images and ideas that may or may not have much to do with one another. And so it is with “Uma Thurman.”
Oh, there’s a bit of a storyline here. The core of the song, as I noted, is about a young woman who considers Uma’s signature peace-sign-across-the-eyes move in Pulp Fiction to be inspirational. The chorus announces, “She wants to dance like Uma Thurman/Bury me ’til I confess/She wants to dance like Uma Thurman/And I can’t get you out of my head.”
That obsessive response seems to be a serious one, by the way, prompting something like a marriage vow from frontman Patrick Stump: “I can move mountains/I can work a miracle, work a miracle/I’ll keep you like an oath/May nothing by death do us part.”
Another verse, however, suggests that it’s not just her dancing that’s got him hooked. “The stench, the stench of summer sex/And CK Eternity, oh, h— yes,” Stump adds. And a bit later he says darkly, “Put your, put your venom in me.”
Elsewhere, Stump sings stuff that, frankly, doesn’t make much sense without having someone from the band provide insider decoder info. (Which they aren’t doing.) Take this couplet, for instance: “The blood, the blood, the blood of the lamb/Is worth two lions, but here I am.” The first line in any other context would be an obvious allusion to Jesus’ death on the cross. But contrasting it with so many surrounding, unrelated ideas scrambles the concept to the point of near nonsense.
We also hear, “You’ll find your way/And my death find you alive?” So … is that a good thing? Or bad?
And how about this one? “I slept in last night’s clothes and tomorrow’s dreams/But they’re not quite what they seem.”
Probably not. But let’s move on to the video.
If you’ve ever wanted to know if being a famous rock star was as fabulous as you’ve thought it might be, Fall Out Boy is here to say that it is. Maybe even better than you thought. In the hyperbolic and (according to Billboard) self-satirizing video for “Uma Thurman,” a young woman named Sarah wins a contest to be the band’s personal assistant for a day. She’s at the beck and call of the band’s four members (Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley), and the things she gets asked to do and invited into are, well, uh, diverse.
At Joe Trohman’s house, she takes his pet zebra for a walk.
She engages in a paintball match with Pete Wentz.
She sings karaoke with Patrick Stump—”Uma Thurman,” of course—in a bar. And when he’s sad she surrounds him with bunnies and baby chicks.
She works out with Andy Hurley.
She drives a McLaren and a dune buggy. She rides a mechanical bull. She goes indoor skydiving.
It all concludes with Sarah driving a tank over a pickup truck … twice. The perfectly ridiculous ending to a crazily ridiculous video, right?
Actually, it’s a lot more than that. The truck, for those looking closely, has decals on the side that read, “Article 1, Section 36.03.” The camera then gives us a lingering close-up shot of that obscure alphanumeric reference. Obviously, it means something important to the band.
A quick spin through Google reveals the political message at the end of this decidedly unpolitical video. The words and numbers reference the section of Alabama’s constitution that have barred same-sex marriage licenses from being issued. When asked about the message by a French fan on Twitter, Pete Wentz replied that “its a law that legislates love- i.e. that people of the same sex cant be legally married.”
From The Munsters to Pulp Fiction to the “blood of the lamb” to … gay marriage.
It seems that the guys in Fall Out Boy aren’t so much connecting social dots as they are spraying out pepper shot.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.