805: Paradise City
Title text: Take me down to the paradise municipality / where the grass is mauve and the girls aren't fromthisreality.
"Paradise City" is a song by the hard rock band Guns N' Roses which appeared on their debut album Appetite for Destruction. It sings of the so-called Paradise City, an idyllic place to which the song's narrator longs to return. The location is contrasted with the depressing reality in which the persona is trapped, using for instance the image of a gas chamber.
In the comic, Cueball can be seen singing different versions of the chorus. In each panel, the word "City" is substituted by another type of location and the rest of the verse is altered accordingly to keep the rhyme scheme (usually awkwardly because he has chosen difficult words to rhyme with).
The sequence of stanzas describes the fate of Paradise City. It starts the original version drawing an idyllic picture. In a rather unexpected turn, however, the next stanza has the place pillaged and plundered. Chaos and anarchy reign, the once fresh and green meadows are now burned. Law and order are restored in the next verses and the other extreme starts to prevail: Paradise City has become a totalitarian dystopia. The fourth stanza refers to George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The book shows a world in which mind control and omnipresent surveillance render individual thought and action impossible, and the fifth stanza shows a borough where every blade of grass has been labeled, taking the surveillance to an extreme. The concluding verses suggest that the totalitarian government has successfully brainwashed the former rebels and established an effective, yet sterile technocratic society. "Cortical lesions" in this panel could be a reference to the dystopian novel Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, which describes a society in which extreme plastic surgery is used to turn people "pretty". (SPOILER ALERT) It is later revealed in the book that this procedure is accompanied by a neurosurgical operation making the patient placid and obedient through a lobotomy.
The development of the city in Cueball's song reveals that the term "Paradise" can be applied to very different and even oppositional scenarios. While the original song describes the city as a rural Eden, some might refute this conception as a bourgeois or agrarian romantic ideal. Others would fear that too much individual freedom might be dangerous and opt for security through control. Especially the picture of the last stanza is a common vision in dystopian literature (e.g. Brave New World): Although the citizens of a future society entirely lack any personal choice or individual freedom, they deem themselves happy because education or thought control present this a necessity for a functioning society.
In popular culture, the word "Paradise" is often used to describe a place of bliss and perfect harmony, as in the original religious sense of the term. It is however also frequently linked to the idea of living out one's deepest and darkest desires, therefore in some way to a place of sin. Considering the lifestyle of Guns N' Roses, it can be assumed that the "pretty girls" of the original song are not necessarily chaste.
The most iconic part of Las Vegas is officially named "Paradise", although it is not entirely clear if Cueball is aware of the probable reference of the original song.
- [For five panels, Cueball sits on a box playing a guitar and sings.]
- Cueball: Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.
- Cueball: Take me down to the paradise village where the grasses burn as those cute girls pillage.
- Cueball: Take me down to the fire-charred counties where the law's restored by Canadian mounties.
- Cueball: Take me down to Orwellian regions where they retrain girls using cortical lesions.
- Cueball: Take me down to the paradise borough where the grass is labeled 'cause the girls are thorough.
- Cueball: Ohh, won't you please take me hooome...
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