Let’s not forget about 21st Century Breakdown, because its more relevant now than ever

May 15th was the 14th anniversary of Green Day’s ’21st Century Breakdown’ album. This highly decorated album remained at the top of rock music charts for three weeks after its release in 2009, and won the Grammy award for Best Rock Album of 2010.

It’s an important concept album to reflect on because the message behind it, which is regarding the sociopolitical landscape of our world, is only becoming more relevant as time wears on.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong describes the album as a “snapshot of the era in which we live as we question and try to make sense of the selfish manipulation going on around us, whether it be the government, religion, media or frankly any form of authority”.

If you take a look at the media at any given time, it seems that there is a catastrophe happening at all corners of the world at all times. And often times, there is. But in other moments it appears that these catastrophes are intentional, as though there’s a fire being stoked. As observers of media it’s important to reflect on the psychological power and influence that information can hold, particularly over masses of people.

Upon critical evaluation of these ever-present ‘catastrophes’, you can often pick out moments where things are said or done with the intention to provoke an emotional response; we are being herded towards a polarized us-and-them mentality, a never-ending battle between ourselves and anyone who doesn’t view things in the same way as we do.

There always seems to be some group of people who is ‘to blame’ for whatever form of suffering is being experienced at a given time. We are collectively being ushered towards behavioural patterns of fearing thy neighbour and obeying authority. At what point will we sit back and ask ourselves; who does this behaviour benefit? We’ve all heard of the divide-and-conquer strategy by now, haven’t we?



Tracks on the record, such as ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ’21 Guns’, examine the album’s theme of politically motivated anger and alienation, drawing attention towards our inability to see the bigger picture at hand; when we begin to regard politics and media as God and blindly obey commands of the ‘higher power’ without exercising critical thought towards its message, we become extremely vulnerable to mass manipulation. We, as a nation, can become malleable enough that we will wage an assortment of different forms of violence upon anyone who doesn’t abide by the preferred order. In other words, we can become so blind to the real problem that we become the problem.

I highly suggest we all take another listen to this album, keeping the world’s recent global catastrophes in mind. The core message of the poetry in this album might illuminate a new perspective on the way our world is operating.




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