Hollywood has been using the same song for twenty years

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What do “Very Strange Cases”, “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Legion” have in common? The comeback sci-fi horror, dystopian drama and conceptual fable of superpowers couldn’t be more dissimilar— but all three shows have used the same song for three years in a row. In fact, they were part of a long-standing trend.

Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit” has appeared in at least one movie or TV show every year since 2001. The song was released in 1967, but in the new millennium it became a pillar of pop culture. This song is no longer a hymn to the discovery of drugs. Recently, this song has been used to convey the insanity or incredible nature of situations, as well as the derealized or deteriorating mental state of an individual character. In fact, the association of the “White Rabbit” with a certain era — a certain spirit of the times — contradicts the timelessness, universality, which makes it relevant even today.

The spelling and meaning of “White Rabbit”

Jefferson Airplane vocalist Grace Slick has always openly talked about drugs in the lyrics of her song: she wrote “White Rabbit” as a “slap in the face” to parents with cognitive dissonance. Slick felt that parents were missing out on the irony of reading Alice in Wonderland to their children—with its explicit and obvious references to drugs—and then wondering why their children had grown up using drugs. At first, the song was a symbol of the acid rock genre that was predominant at the time of its release. Using images from Lewis Carroll’s novel to capture the feeling of an altered mental state, “White Rabbit” mixes classics and modernity in a way that defined rock music of the time.

Moreover, Slick’s satirical intent reflected Carroll’s own authorship. In Victorian England, Lewis Carroll specifically wrote most of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass) to ridicule the moralism that was prevalent in parenting in his time. Many of the poems in his seminal novels are sharp reformulations of didactic nursery rhymes that were popular at the time: for example, in “How is the crocodile”, exhortations about diligence in “How is the busy Bee” are replaced by painful images of a crocodile luring a fish into its “gently smiling mouth”.

Use of the song in popular culture

The first wave of popularity of the “White Rabbit” in Hollywood coincides with Slick’s initial vision. Perhaps there is no more appropriate use in his story than in the made-for-television film adaptation of Ask Alice, a book about the dangerous appeal of drugs, the title of which is taken from the lyrics from The White Rabbit. Several performances in the 1980s further link the song’s madness to the Vietnam War experience, including Platoon. This association persists today when the “White Rabbit” appears in a PBS documentary about that period, “The Vietnam War.”

From 2001 to 2011, the song continued to appear in interpretations related to the hippie and drug culture of the 1960s. When determining trends in pop culture, it is often difficult to point to any one vivid example and consider it the only source of inspiration – however, Zack Snyder’s 2011 film “Forbidden Reception” has a colorful statement that it changed the way filmmakers thought about the “White Rabbit”. Sucker Punch wasn’t taken seriously even when it came out (which is a pity, as it was more subtle than critics or viewers had assumed). However, his dreamy style and generous imagination caused an altered state throughout the film, which made “White Rabbit” perfect for one of his musical numbers.

This instance has only the slightest connection with other uses of the song, as Emily Browning lip-syncs it with an extended steampunk fantasy episode set during World War II. While it’s impossible to say whether other directors were inspired by Sucker Punch (indeed, it’s unlikely that many would admit it, there can be no doubt that the use of “White Rabbit” subtly changed to him. The song was no longer strictly tied to the idea of hallucinogenic states (or an era when such states were clearly popular), it was used to convey any type of absurd or surreal event or to simulate madness in the minds of the characters.

He plays at the beginning of “Very Strange Things”, when Bad people sow violence in Benny’s diner, trying to get Eleven back. In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” he follows June’s gaze as she perceives Jezebel’s blatant debauchery, which seems almost a hallucination after the chaste monotony of her daily life. And, of course, “The White Rabbit” should appear in Legion— in itself an extended reflection on psychology, psychosis and what is normal — in the form of a slow, incoherent cover that accompanies David when he examines what he knows and what is missing in the book. his memory (or his disclosure of his memory).

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