In March of 2019, just two months after The Killers released “Land of the Free”, the Department of Homeland security announced that illegal immigration was at a twelve year high, there was a 97% increase in apprehensions, and that apprehensions of families rose 338%. The press release stated that the “Humanitarian and Security Crisis” was “at a breaking point”. The images in the “Land of the Free” music video show just that, but take on a starkly contrasting tone to that of the DHS statement. 

Image result for land of the free the killers

While the Department of Homeland Security and ICE have focused their reports on numbers, Spike Lee in his directing of the “Land of the Free” music video focuses on the people who are victims of the humanitarian crisis at the board. In a post to Instagram after the release of the song, Brandon Flowers wrote “we dishonor our values, our ancestors and our heritage when we tear gas our brothers and sisters seeking asylum.” According to ABC, Flowers made the call to Spike Lee because of the content of the song. “He told me he has a song and it’s a protest song,” Lee explained. “I said, ‘Send it to me,’ and I said, ‘Let’s do it.'” In the same article, Lee called the current state of the country “bananas”. 

In the video, Lee sought to humanize the inhumane. In his Instagram post, Flowers wrote “I see my family in the faces of these vulnerable people”. That is just what Spike Lee did in directing the video, he focused on faces. This tactic not only puts a face to a crisis, but it evokes emotion in any viewer. There are two different instances where Lee strings together portraits of those seeking asylum. They are pictures of kids, of the elderly, of families. 

It’s interesting in itself that The Killers and Spike Lee chose to focus on immigration as the only issue touched upon in the video. It certainly yielded stunning shots and made for a moving short film, but “Land of the Free” touches on a wide range of issues. The band is critical of many different problems in our society, from guns to mass incarceration to police brutality. However, they save their verse about immigration for the end of the song. 

Besides the final chorus, Flowers’ last words in the song read “Down at the border, they’re gonna put up a wall. . .High enough to keep all those filthy hands off/Of our hopes and our dreams (I’m standing crying)/People who just want the same things we do/In the land of the free”. In fact, as I am writing this, the Pentagon granted another $3.8 billion from its budget to the Trump administration towards the border wall. The money was taken from the country’s military budget and was otherwise going to purchase fighter jets and other miscellaneous weapons. The helpless, innocent faces that the music video shows at the border are looked at as a bigger threat to our country’s safety than foreign terrorists. 

Perhaps the most powerful line of the song comes when Flowers talks about hopeful immigrants “keeping their filthy hands off of our hopes and our dreams”. Up to that point in the song, Flowers is straightforward with his stance on almost all issues. This line, however comes soaked in sarcasm. It highlights and culminates the irony throughout the song of calling the country the “Land of the Free”, but excluding certain people.