Napoleon Dynamite’s Christmas Future Revealed

For the video to accompany their fifth annual Christmas single, “Boots,” the Killers turned this time to Jared Hess, who is best known for writing and directing Napoleon Dynamite. Interspliced with cool shots of Brandon Flowers atop some building north of Fremont Street (a little west of the El Cortez, I think), is a narrative involving a fifteen-years-older Napoleon, or someone who looks quite a bit like him. Life hasn’t worked out too well for Napoleon, but occasionally music and dance can still lift him up and make his wildest dreams come true.

My further random thoughts:

A turning point for the Napoleon-like character comes when he visits Guardian Angel Cathedral. The Catholics provide the world a lot of religious imagery that other Christians find useful. Brandon Flowers’ recent solo album Flamingo has been noted for its religious themes found throughout. (Linescratchers was only one reviewer to mention this, but the most complete. The lyrics’ Las Vegas quotient is also much stronger than past Killers work; in other words it was an album created for Mormon Nevadans like me.) The track that goes full bore in that direction, “Magdalena,” is a joyous song of redemption found through a pilgrimage from Nogales to Magdalena to seek a blessing from San Francisco. Did using the imagery of another religion free Flowers to be so overtly religious without becoming preachy about his own religion, while still communicating important beliefs he shares with Catholics? Is there anything particularly Mormon that could have communicated so well a belief in redemption from sin?

For those keeping count of such things, Jared Hess is the second Mormon to direct a Killers Christmas video. Matthew Gray Gubler did the video for “Don’t Shoot Me, Santa” three years ago. At the Magdalena link above you can see Rachel Kaiser, another Mormon, singing backup. Three of the Killers (minus drummer Ronnie Vannucci) performed “Home Means Nevada” at a Harry Reid campaign rally last summer, and an old classmate of Vannucci tells me that the drummer’s wife is LDS.

I had wondered if the Killers break from performing would interfere with doing their Christmas single this year. It did and it didn’t. The single which appeared is much more like Flamingo than like anything the Killers have recorded; it is very similar to “Crossfire.” I like the song. Mark Stoermer’s bass playing, a significant part of the Killers’ sound, is absent for the first minute, and subdued through the rest of it. Stoermer, Vannucci, and guitarist Keuning took on a supporting role for this one.

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About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

6 thoughts on “Napoleon Dynamite’s Christmas Future Revealed

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention » Napoleon Dynamite’s Christmas Future Revealed The Millennial Star -- Topsy.com

  2. John M, you may be interested to know that I had no idea who the Killers were until your last post on Brandon Flowers being LDS. I then said to my teenager girls: “did you know that Brandon Flowers was LDS?” They were totally, I mean TOTALLY, freaked out. They then bought me a Killers CD (the one with the “Are we human or are we dancers?” song on it). Pretty good, even for an old fuddy-duddy like me.

    We had a long talk about the meaning of that song, in which I referenced Plato’s story of the Cave as a possible explanation for the song. My girls were left very unsure.

  3. Your daughters’ purchase shows that all that marketing legwork pays off. I hadn’t given much attention to Brandon Flowers and the Killers until a couple years back when that album thta your daughters gave you came out. A newspaper profile that I read, which was printed because of the album, piqued my interest in those Nevadans. I looked into them a little more and wrote the piece you read which resulted in your daughters buying one of the albums for you, and I have bought several Killers disks since then too. Whoever got that article in the paper did his job right.

  4. This does rather sound a lot like the Flamingo material I reviewed. Though I’m not as crazy about this single as I am about the best of Flamingo. Thanks for the link to the video.

    I think Brandon’s Mormon-ness is a fluke really. Because of how popular he is, and because he never really professed to be a poster child for the faith, it seems like he is above the regular criticism we lob at celebrity Mormons who don’t live up to our expectations. I really haven’t heard much criticism of him at all. I think this is a good sign for the future; it shows that we recognize not every Mormon fits the mold and that’s okay (as evidenced by the “…and I’m a Mormon” campaign).

  5. Syphax, thanks for visiting here. I have enjoyed your Linescratchers website. Your post a few weeks back on Mormon celebrities got me thinking again about the greatest Mormon celebrity ever, bigger than all the rest of them put together. When I first started hearing of Brandon Flowers, I wondered “Is this fellow our Jack Dempsey for the 21st Century?” Reading your post topped off interest I’d had for a while to learn more about the Manassa Mauler, so I read a recent biography, Like a Flame of Pure Fire. Perhaps I’ll put something up at some point about the Mormon parts of Dempsey’s life.

    Here is a post I wrote a couple years back, that you may enjoy: “Nevada and the Killers.” I hadn’t listened to a lot of the Killers music at that point, but their music isn’t the focus of their piece. It’s more about Nevada, and how being a band from Las Vegas includes the large possibility of one of the musicians being a Mormon.

  6. Thanks! Unfortunately I had to remind myself who Jack Dempsey was, via Wikipedia. I think the main difference would be that Brandon Flowers, as an artist, must create art that most definitely interacts with his faith, upbringing, etc., so his beliefs and personality are worn quite openly if you’re willing to look through the lyrics.

    Looking forward to that article.

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