Arts, Music, Column

“Mr. Brightside” Sheds Light on Jesuit Values, Vocational Discernment

Here at Boston College, one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States, students are challenged to reflect on Rev. Michael Himes’s three questions before they graduate: What brings you joy? What are you good at? And what does the world need from you?

These questions are aimed at guiding students through the process of “vocational discernment,” or essentially helping seniors figure out what they are supposed to do after dishing out upwards of $280,000 for a degree in a language they already speak. After spending a long, humid summer giving tours to prospective students and the occasional controversial former governor of the great state of New Jersey, I have begun to think more critically about these pressing questions in an attempt to find greater fulfillment beyond my quickly passing four college years. While these questions are certainly important to individual students’ vocational discernment, I started to think about whether we can apply these questions to BC students as a whole. At last, I have uncovered the single common thread that unites all BC students under one big, fuzzy, overpriced BC bookstore blanket: “Mr. Brightside.”

In 2004, The Killers set the world aflame with the angsty adolescent anthem, and even 14 years later, the building guitar progression and pounding drum beat continue to boom out of the thin walls of packed Mods and not-so-packed doubles in Fitzaga alike. Does “Mr. Brightside” bring BC students joy? Absolutely. Played in conjunction with Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom”  and blink-182’s “All The Small Things,” BC students are given a unique opportunity to revel in the nostalgia of the colored skinny jeans and the bright sparkle of their braces-covered smile of angsty middle school years that are now long gone. (As a truly dedicated fan, I may have cried actual tears of joy when The Killers gave an explosive performance of the song at Boston Calling this past May.)

Are BC students good at singing “Mr. Brightside”? In regards to pitch, Juilliard probably has us beat. The overwhelming lack of concern for the technicalities of music does not inhibit droves of drunkards from belting out the lyrics on weekend nights, however. I’ve even witnessed a few get creative with the song’s sometimes cryptic lines, screaming “Open up my eagle eyes” rather than “eager eyes” to demonstrate just how easily the song can be molded to reflect our unwavering school pride. At football games, it is easy to see how important “Mr. Brightside” is to the student body—while the second verse of our fight song “For Boston” becomes less and less coherent with each line, the lyrics to “Mr. Brightside” remain audible and clear. Who needs “wisdom’s earthly fame,” anyway? Like the CSOM student I am, I am more than willing to settle for “doing just fine.”

Finally, does the world need countless service-minded scholars from one of the finest Jesuit institutions in the United States to dedicate an incalculable amount of hours to learning and reciting “Mr. Brightside”? Just as much as we need the unmatched beauty of Carney Hall and O’Neill Library. Maybe even as much CSOM boys and MCAS economics majors need Vineyard Vines to feel a sense of belonging.

Why does the world so desperately need our fervent performances The Killers’ hit? One of the cornerstones of a Jesuit education is community—BC not only educates men and women for others, but also men and women for each other. Everyone can relate to the unexpected pain that sometimes accompanies an imaginary voyeuristic invasion of privacy. While watching two oblivious people hook up from the shadows may be a little extreme by some measures, we all have sorted through someone’s likes on Twitter or tagged posts on Instagram to find exactly what we were hoping to never see. This shared experience of romantic jealousy, too oft felt while staring down your imaginary boyfriend and his very real girlfriend canoodling in the line at Late Night (Rest in power Lower Late Night.), helps us connect with each other and really get to know the whole person behind the pristine LinkedIn profile picture. Cultishly chanting the lyrics in perfect synchrony is the easiest way for us to cura each others’ personales.

So Eagles, here is to another year of drinking the Jesuit Kool-Aid, killing off countless brain cells during Natty Light-fueled nights, and “going off of that” in Philosophy of the Person. Alexa, play “Mr. Brightside.”

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

September 2, 2018