Coldplay’s new video for the song “Paradise” was released on the band’s website today. The plot revolves around a man dressed in an elephant suit (it later turns out to be Chris Martin inside the suit) who escapes from a zoo in London and smuggles himself onto a plane to Cape Town. With few exceptions there are no real people in this elephant suit’s world. Mr Elephant buys a unicycle in Cape Town (Woodstock to be specific, guess Tom) and heads out to the Boland/Karoo where he meets up with 3 other elephants (his band members). They get transported to a stage in front of a massive crowd–turns out in Johannesburg–and play out the song. Paradise indeed.

Watch it:

Everybody and their cousins have had something to say about it.

We have work to do, so I sent an email around AIAC. Below follows a slightly edited version of our conversation:

Tom: Paradise is Cape Town’s central business district, a Woodstock bicycle shop and giraffes in game parks.

Sean: Is this Coetzee’s Eden or am I giving them [Coldplay and the video’s director] too much credit?


Herman: Yep, I think this is Coetzee plain and simple: paradise is sunny skies, open grasslands and winding roads, all devoid of people. However, as far as touristy depictions of sunny South Africa (‘See the world in your own country!’) go, it’s rather restrained (no sandy beaches or penguins at Boulder’s Beach [in Simon’s Town], for instance.

Neelika: I see an ‘artificial’ elephant trapped, imprisoned. Counting the days, like a hostage. Desperate to be let out. Plots escape … a reversal of the economic escapees from Africa …

So: the modern man is like an artificial version of “the Real African.” He smuggles himself back! (instead of out of there, as we know from people who’ve hidden in wheel shafts, etcetera.)

He gets there. No one gives him a break (no rides). But then! More of his own people–fellow escapees from the rigors of modernity. And then, they play sweet, cheesy music.

I liked the lyrics of “I used to rule the world” a lot better. It made me think of Idi.