By nature of being artists, musicians often strive to make a certain statement with their work. Whether it be emotional, topical, or political, their ability to create something that will have a powerful influence on their listeners is relied upon heavily by the cohesiveness of an album and clarity of the message. One of the most effective uses of power in this avenue has been Green Day’s American Idiot. Released 10 years ago this month, this concept album from the California-based rock band laid the groundwork for a political message that has continued to resonate with their listeners.
The album tells us the story of Jesus of Suburbia who is struggling to find happiness in the city after leaving his hometown in search of a new life. He meets key characters along his journey, such as St. Jimmy and Whatshername, who help him realize that he has to actively fight for his freedom and independence. Jesus of Suburbia learns that he can’t let himself fall prey to ignorance or blind opposition and that he must strive to fully understand the world around him.
This theme of discovery and acceptance have helped the album develop into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that has impacted post-9/11 culture through innovative means. The album and musical have worked together to motivate this generation into further understanding every facet of the political engine of ISIS and the continued war on terrorism. They have forced us into considering how we make our decisions and energized us with the intention of becoming fully informed citizens. With American Idiot, Green Day paved the way for other musicians to create songs and albums to help influence Millennial Americans in their personal and political journeys. Here’s to 10 years of American Idiot and hoping artists continue to fight for political freedom and understanding.