Essay on Suppression of Individuality in Radiohead's, Fake Plastic Trees

Essay on Suppression of Individuality in Radiohead's, Fake Plastic Trees

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Suppression of Individuality in Radiohead's, Fake Plastic Trees


"Fake Plastic Trees" criticizes how modern society stifles individuality and forces people to swallow idealized conceptions of how life should be. The whole song centers on the idea that humans, either through their own fallibility or through society's relentlessness, easily and obliviously mold their lives according to the unspoken standards they set on themselves. The result is a shallow, artificial, "fake plastic" living that perpetuates itself and destroys uniqueness.

The first two verses, which reveal the tragic consequences of pretense, evoke feelings of despair and pointlessness. The image of a woman watering a plastic money tree is heavily shadowed by shades of existentialism. The act of nurturing is the woman's attempt to create something genuine, something reflecting her identity. The bleak, futile reality lies in the fact that her "creation" thrives unto itself, surviving as the product of society's goals and inhibitions and outlooks, not hers. The plastic tree is a misconstrued representation of her true self. Helpless and beguiled, she falls victim to the ruthless nature of society and its indifference to the individual experience.

Her green plastic watering can

For her fake Chinese rubber plant

In the fake plastic earth

That she bought from a rubber man

In a town full of rubber plans

To get rid of itself

This artificialness of life is all-encompassing; no one is spared. The people around the woman are just as deceived as she is: the "fake plastic earth", the "rubber man", and the "town full of rubber plans" all point to a self-contained societal body that runs without human contribution. What's sadly ironic is that the peo...


... middle of paper ...


...to suggest who will be the victor.

She looks like the real thing

She tastes like the real thing

My fake plastic love

But I can't help the feeling

I could blow through the ceiling

If I just turn and run

The song continues with the narrator's near rejection of his "fake plastic love." She fits her mould nicely, because she embodies verisimilitude, but simply for that reason her love can never be real. The narrator realizes this when he says "But I can't help the feeling/I could blow through the ceiling/ If I just turn and run." He's so close to tearing away from the clutches of society - all he has to do is act extraordinarily and unexpected. Sadly, he reverts to normalcy and submission, even tendering an apology for not always being dishonest to himself like she was:

If I could be who you wanted

If I could be who you wanted all the time

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