MGSV: How a David Bowie song inspired Kojima

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Hideo Kojima directed fans to the song used in MGSV’s opening, telling them, “All the answers are clearly stated from the beginning.”

More Solid metal gear fans know that the music of the late David Bowie looms large enough in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. While other Bowie songs are featured, the focus is certainly on the game’s opening cover of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” by Midge Ure. Almost every aspect of this song, including the fact that it’s a cover, can actually foreshadow the plot of Phantom pain players who listen carefully.

MGSV Director and series creator Hideo Kojima recently gave fans a hint as to what the song means for the series. Kojima, who is known for using wild storytelling devices, pointed fans towards two major aspects of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ – how Bowie wrote the song and the fact that Phantom pain specifically uses a blanket. The song as a whole serves to foreshadow Phantom painof story structure, while foreshadowing one of the game’s biggest twists.


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Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” originally appeared on the 1970 album of the same name, with many critics at the time noting how different the track sounded from everything else on the scrapbook. The lyrics describe the narrator having an encounter and conversation with a doppelganger, which is especially noticeable when a line in the chorus changes from “I never lost control” to “We never lost control”.

The lyrics of the song as a whole are almost eldritch in nature, describing an otherworldly experience that the listener cannot quite comprehend. Bowie, according to a 1997 BBC Radio interview, wrote the song at a time when he felt like he was still searching for a part of himself he had not yet quite found. While the song was released in 1970, Bowie originally wrote “The Man Who Sold the World” when he was 19.


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This theme of an identity crisis was prominent in Bowie’s life when the song was recorded. Part of what made David Bowie such an iconic performer was the various personas he took on during his career, one of the most notable being the alien Ziggy Stardust. “The Man Who Sold the World” was recorded at a time when Bowie was first fleshing out the character of Ziggy Stardust, marking a major shift in his musical identity.

Some people even choose to interpret the song as David Bowie meeting Ziggy Stardust in his own mind. Considering the origins of the song, the links between the song and MGSV are quite clear. The big turning point in MGSV is that the player character is actually Venom Snake and not Big Boss, with Venom serving as Big Boss’ body double to help spread the latter’s mythos. In other words, the player is a Big Boss lookalike.


The catch is that even Venom Snake isn’t aware of his true identity – at least not at first. After Venom Snake survives a helicopter crash, he is unknowingly brainwashed into believing he is the real Big Boss. Venom eventually learns the truth but chooses to continue serving as a Big Boss doppelganger, completely renouncing his own identity until his death in the original. metal gear. MGSV opening with a song about identity and lookalikes effectively reveals the game’s biggest twist early on.

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There’s more to the connection than just the subject of lookalikes. “Selling the world” has two main interpretations, either to knowingly convince the world of a lie, or to give away one’s own world. Both interpretations work in the context of MGSVas Venom Snake both convinces the Lie World that he is Big Boss while giving up his own “world” in the form of his identity.



MGSV Venom Snake and Miller on stand

“The Man Who Sold the World” also has literal interpretations when it comes to the story of MGSV. The lyrics, “He said I was his friend. Which surprised me. I spoke into his eyes, ‘I thought you died alone. A very long time ago.'” could describe an encounter between Big Boss and Venom Snake, where Venom is still his own man. When the chorus returns later in the song and “I” becomes “We”, it depicts the characters of Venom Snake and Big Boss becoming one.

The last big question Kojima poses to gamers in his tweet is why a cover is used. It is probably because in MGSV, players do not play the role of the original. The character they embody, Venom Snake, is the doppelganger. Midge Ure’s cover of “The Man Who Sold the World” is used to portray the lookalike’s point of view rather than the original, hinting at the true connection between Venom Snake and Big Boss.


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