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The Meaning of HEAD

"The movie was representational. It was Bob Rafelson's view of The Monkees phenomenon, our impressions, show biz pressures, his impressions, like that."
(Peter Tork)

"One of the great themes in HEAD is that nothing is what it seems to be."
(Eva)

"It's a product of the times, when rambling psychedelic movies with no real plot was the thing."
(Jimmy)

"It's a slap at the phoniness of the Hollywood image-making machine."
(RoxEllen)


This page is the meaning of HEAD, according to many hard-core Monkeemaniacs such as myself. ;-) This page would not be possible if it weren't for RoxEllen, who has compilated a very groovy ZIP file of various newsgroup discussions about its meaning.

"I always thought that HEAD was about what it feels like to be marketed as a product, like Tide or McDonald's or Head & Shoulders ("Dandruff! Dandruff!") -- to behauled around and used and forced into bizarre promotional situations, to be despised by "legimate" artists, critized, and occasionally thumped on the head by members of the Establishment; to spend most of your time in an environment -- Hollywood -- where you can't count on anything as real or solid; and, when the negative public reaction began to outweigh the positive, to be packed up and stored away with other obsolete props." (Claudia)

"Well, *if* I'm interpreting this right, the whole movie is a poke at the manipulative-ness of the entertainment industry and the phony images they create. My best guess is that it's some sort of comment on the sameness and mediocrity of most TV (the guy keeps flipping and just getting all this weirdness)." (RoxEllen)

"Davy's outfit in most of the movie is almost identical to the one John Lennon wore in the Bahamas in 'Help'. Symbolizing the perception by some people at the time that The Monkees were a TV ripoff of The Beatles? There was a tank chase in 'Help' too." (RoxEllen)

"Someone was selling a car (Ford) and the car had the price $666." (Andi)
"Care salesmen are minions of the devil? Hey -- we *knew* that!" (RoxEllen)

"I remember reading somewhere that the floating pillows were supposed to be a tip of the hat to Andy Warhol, because he went through a phase of art depicting scenes similar to that (underexposed film, floating objects, etc.). While I'm at it, I'd like to ask a question about the rifle drill-team. In the beginning scene of the film, when the mayor is about to dedicate the bride, the drill team is there, looking all spit and polished. When they come to attention one by one as the mayor walks past them, one of the soldiers (seemingly accidental) hits his helmet with the bayonnet of his gun. What I don't understand is -- why does he have a goofy grin on his face when he does it, and is there any significance that he is the only Caucasian member of the team?" (Laura)
"Still a prejudice some people hold today: the black guy has rhythm, and the white guy doesn't." (Torka)

(On the "suicide" of Micky) "He's running to get away from the people chasing him (the entertainment industry) who are going to put him back into the black box (force him into the teeny-bopper idol image he doesn't want any part of anymore). He jumps off the bridge to commit suicide (career suicide -- destroy the cuddly teen-idol image forever) and the mermaids carry him off to be reborn into a new role in life. Notice that when *all* the guy jump off the bridge at the end of the movie, it doesn't do them any good anyway. They start to swim off to freedom and wind up trapped in the box again and filed away as props in a big warehouse (still trapped in the 'Monkee' image despite their best efforts)." (RoxEllen)

"The box represents TV and the way that the media traps people. It gives the performers fame, fortune, an image, etc. *But* it will not allow them to break that image. They're trapped in it. It also represents the PTB and the way they keep their 'commodities' safely tucked away in neat little boxes and to be pulled out when needed. But there's an odd thing about this trap .... it works two ways. It traps the people inside .... and the ones outside; the viewers. In most homes the TV is the visual centre of the living room. Think of all the people for whom it isn't real unless the TV says so. In my mind, Peter and Davy represent the two ways of dealing with this trap. Peter says that the trap is in your mind .... that you are only trapped if you think you are, and that freedom comes from within. Davy sees it as a practical matter. The trap is here. We have to get out, and thinking and meditating are all well and good but sometimes action is needed. And the thing is, both views are different." (Eva)
"I've always felt that Peter's idea of 'It doesn't matter whether we're in the box or not' was the better of the two ways to go about getting out. It's symbolic of a larger picture. Like: don't fight the system, because that only increased their strength. It shows that their enemies are right: just mindless savages kicking their way out. Show them that whatever they do to try to do won't work. Threats and things like that have no effect on you, you don't need to get out because your universe is in your mind. It's whatever you make of it." (Phil)
"That was my point about Peter's philosophy in HEAD. You are only trapped if you think you are. Staying true to yourself no matter what 'they' do to you is the real freedom. Davy reacts and gets them out of the box, but only to wind up in the water tank, *another* box, but this one more dangerout because there is not space for even breathing. So it's from one trap to the other and no end in sight." (Eva)

"About the partwhere they play dandruff in a commercial .... well, I think that symbolizes the long hair and opposition thereof. It also means to me, that they were always 'getting in everyone's hair' by their daily antics, annoying the establishment by their wildness and refusal to be 'boxed in' by the norms of the studio and of that era in general -- hence the symbol dandruff." (Andi)

"The entertainment industry (the factory) destroys or at least badly hurts a lot of people (the weeping woman, the guy hanging by handcuffs from the crane) and drains the lifeblood from a lot of actors, writers, and musicians, etc. (the blood from the valve) to produce its product (the black box)." (RoxEllen)


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