“Alice + The Machine” or Pop Culture’s References to Literature

*This is a blog post I did for my British Literature After 1798 class. I had to pick one of the Victorian stories that we had discussed and write on it. I picked Alice in Wonderland decided to show references of the piece in pop culture.*


I have a thing for allusions to literature in pop culture, so I thought I’d examine some recent allusions to Alice in Wonderland in the world of music.

First off, I would like to point out the allusion in the film The Matrix which is a very obvious reference in the first couple scenes in which Neo is told to “follow the white rabbit”. He follows the girl with a white rabbit tattoo, and yeah….watch the film if you have not.

Secondly, there is a pop artist named Kerli whom not too many people have heard of. She has a song entitled “Walking On Air” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXMeZwO2qZ0&feature=player_embedded), and it is the music video behind this song that I am concerned with. The entire video is a metaphor for the steps taken during “Monarch mind control”. For example, the bed made of rocks symbolizes the concept presented in one of the final steps, being ‘pain is pleasure’. Anyway, Alice in Wonderland-esque themes are presented all throughout the music video. Two of the most notable ones are the reversals of reality, and her puppet-handler (makes sense when you view the video) appears to her at 2:33 to get her to look through the looking glass (HELLO, OBVIOUS REFERENCE!). Two examples of the reality-reversals are the snow that pours through the windows later in the video and the reversed hot and cold ovens featured earlier on. The video’s images/storyline are/is quite disturbing

My final modern allusion comes from the incredible band Florence + The Machine in her song “Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)”. The video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nxO-yPQesA) alludes to Alice in Wonderland with some of its images like a tea party, however, I am going to focus more towards the song’s lyrics. The lyrics describe a girl who is frightened but has to learn to fight and make sacrifices (the war against the Queen of Hearts). The narrator states that she is a “rabbit-hearted girl” who needs to become a “lion-hearted girl” in order to fight; there is yet again another Alice-rabbit reference. The first lines of lyrics are:

“The looking glass, so shiny and new
How quickly the glamour fades.
I start spinning, slipping out of time
Was that the wrong pill to take?”

For everyone that knows the story of Alice in Wonderland, it is apparent that Florence is referencing going through the rabbit hole and the shrinking and growing pills (I don’t remember what they are in Alice in Wonderland exactly, being either pills or toast or something along those lines).

Bringing your thoughts back to The Matrix briefly, Neo has to decide between either the blue or red pill to take, which can also be traced back as a reference to Alice in Wonderland.



*Note: I had done a previous class-blog post concerning Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park & references to that story in pop culture. Turns out J.K. Rowling named Argus Filch’s (the caretaker of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) cat, Mrs. Norris, after the character Mrs. Norris in Austen’s novel.*

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About Eric Caulfield

My Patronus is a bitch slap. I'm British-at-heart. Writer, Chuckster, Whovian, Sherlockian, humanitarian, fair-trade supporter. Did I mention I'm a wizard-pirate?

Posted on 03/17/2011, in Blogging, Educational, Literature, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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