In the Land of the One-Eyed Men, Zach Galifianakis is King
My Morning Jacket’s psychedelic new video for “Outta My System,” off their 2011 album Circuital, is a Monday-morning cure for anyone who misses the halcyon days of Space Jam, or even that short-lived Back to the Future TV run, when there was always an alternate cartoon universe waiting somewhere below the surface of boring live-action reality—usually accessed by way of a strange, glowing portal.
The video sees frontman James Frost beamed into the desert by an Unidentified Flying Object shortly before jumping into a portal, where he is appropriately rendered as an animated version of his burly, bearded self—though, inexplicably, as a Cyclops. Everything and everyone in the video is a Cyclops, actually: the cars, the planets, the pyramids, the satellites. The only exception to this one-eyed world is the evil wizard played by Zach Galifianakis, but even he has eye-shaped explosives.
The song and its video could just be a nostalgic ode to hallucinogenics, but all the symbolism seems too extreme to be so innocuous. The eyes—or rather, the eye—even appears on the cover of Circuital. It’s pretty ominous, actually, and so are the lyrics to “Outta My System,” if you look past the amusing animation it inspired. Frost sets up a clear conflict: “the lust of youth vs. married security.” But, he insists, you can have it all, and you would be a fraud if you didn’t try to; there are just some things you’ll never get out of your system. As he puts it, “you can feel it in your bones, try to deny it, wipe it off your face, but your eyes won’t hide it.” So maybe the eye is that omnipresent, omniscient reminder of the life you should be living, and maybe it helps to drop acid in the desert and hallucinate Zach Galifianakis as an animated magical supervillain to get some clarity on what exactly that life entails. If you can’t do that, be content just to watch this video as many times as necessary.