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Defend Your Song: Fake Plastic Trees

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by

Matt Duke

on 4 June 2013

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Transcript of Defend Your Song: Fake Plastic Trees

Defend Your Song Fake Plastic Trees The last word... Personification Hyperbole Irony Pun Metaphor Devices & Techniques Irony is used in the lines "He used to do surgery / On the girls in the eighties / But gravity always wins" (Radiohead 12-14). This refers to a man who used to be a plastic surgeon, but his clients' implants would always sag or droop and look fake. This is ironic because the purpose of these procedures is to lift and breathe life into women, but it was doing the opposite. This refers to the pointlessness of human nature and how shallow we can act. Often appearances only last skin deep. The idea of "fake plastic trees" is an ongoing metaphor about human appearances and shallowness. Similar to people, plastic trees may look good from a distance, but they are just pretending to be something that they are not. Fake plastic trees are just filling the mold set for them by real trees. The song says, "It wears her out" (7) which has two meanings, becoming a play on words. The first way to interpret this is that trying to keep filling the mold tires her, and emotionally deteriorates her. The second meaning is that she is wearing falseness like a mask, and it hides her true identity. In the line, "I could just blow through the ceiling" (21), hyperbole is used because he could not literally blow through the ceiling. The use of this device is to emphasize the bottled up emotions that he is feeling. It is also used to show the reader that he can't take it anymore even though, "She looks like the real thing / She tastes like the real thing." The plastic falseness of society isn't good enough. "In a town full of rubber plans / To get rid of itself (5-6). This is saying that the town has plans, but they will ultimately be its downfall. This refers to the destructive nature of society and how large numbers of people unwittingly work together to wreck themselves in the end. The use of the word rubber refers to the elastic and flexible nature of these plans, so they are not sincere. By finding and analyzing the devices and techniques used in this song, the meaning became clear. In this song, the author feels like he is being poured into a mold, which is masking his true identity. But it isn't only him who is in this position. To the author, society seems fake because people are trying to be satisfy expectations from others. This is similar to fake plastic trees trying to live up the the expectations set for them by real trees. The use of irony is also apparent in the line, "A green plastic watering can / For a fake Chinese rubber plant / In the fake plastic earth" (1-3). In this line a fake plant is put in fake dirt, and yet it has a watering can. This is a completely unnecessary accessory, serving only for aesthetic purpose. It also seems to be pretending that the plant is real, much like the surface of society; it is pretending to be something that it isn't. A man is described as being a "cracked polystyrene man." Polystyrene is the material used for packing things. This works in this context as well because he used to just seem to be hidden in a container, or a fake shell. Now that it is cracked, he has come to the realization of the falseness of society and doesn't know what to do so he, "...just crumbles and burns" (11). First Impressions First of all... My first impression of the song was that the author was criticizing our throw away society. The song uses the words plastic and polystyrene (synthetic materials) in many places, and in the line, "For a fake Chinese rubber plant" (Radiohead 2), the use of the word 'chinese' makes the reader think of poorly made products. By analyzing the following poetic devices used in this song, the deeper meaning became apparent. A green plastic watering can
For a 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

It wears her out, it wears her out
It wears her out, it wears her out

She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns

He used to do surgery
On the girls in the eighties
But gravity always wins And it wears him out, it wears him out
It wears him out, it wears

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

And it wears me out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out

And if I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted
All the time, all the time The line, "Who just crumbles and burns" (11), also made me think that the author feels like because of this mask that he was wearing, his true identity is being lost. Further proof of this was found in the line "I could blow through the ceiling" (21).
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