The overarching theme in all of Daft Punk's work is individualism over conformism. Their art deals with the influence of society (by mechanisms such as technology, the government, the market, modern culture in general and peer pressure) to reduce individuals to the lowest common denominator and make them all the same rather than encouraging them to be unique anddifferent individuals.
This theme is expressed throughout Daft Punk's work in many different forms, but it has always been accompanied by a related topic of the relationship between men and machines. "Does the man control the machine or does the machine control the man?" That is the central question that Daft Punk directs their audience to focus on, and they borrow heavily from retro sci-fi becausethis was a common theme there as well.
At the same time, while it is about individualism, it is NOT about the band members themselves as individuals. They have gone to great lengths to make clear to the world that it is not about them. I can respect that. Their art would seem to indicate that they think that the "star system" or cult of celebrity really exploits rather than empowers theindividuals that it appears to glorify.
Everything from here on out contains major spoilers
Human After All
The most philosophically-inclined Daft Punk album is definitely Human After All. It is about how modern culture keeps us chained to a cycle of mindless mass media consumption. (Television Rules the Nation)
In the music video for Prime Time of Your Life, a young girl has atelevision-induced hallucination that all the people in the world are skeletons and she is the only flesh and blood person. She sees herself as overweight and ugly, while everyone else (including her own family members) is "normal" even though we see that she is really normal and her idea of "normal" is a distorted frightening image of a human skeleton. She goes into the bathroom and looks atherself in the mirror. She opens a drawer and finds a razor blade in it. She begins cutting herself, but instead of bleeding like a real person would, she is able to begin peeling away all of her skin so that we see her muscles with no skin. She is evidently trying to make herself like everyone else. After removing about half her skin, she faints. Her (perfectly normal, non-skeleton) parents find herand we don't see what happens to her except that we find out she was hallucinating by being shown the pictures on the dresser with regular people where she saw skeletons. Notice that it is the family pictures that are ultimately the source of truth for the audience - NOT the television!
There are many similarities in Prime Time Of Your Life to the Twilight Zone episode, "The Eye of the Beholder."Video mashup, anyone? (Hint, hint. Someone make this. No really, someone do it)
The skeletons represent the image of the ideal "beautiful" ultra-thin female with flawless skin projected by porn stars and supermodels which most real women can never attain and even the women who do only do so for a short time. (Hence the title, "Prime Time Of Your Life") Yet by seeing these images of the"perfect" female form day after day, young women are subtly persuaded that they are somehow inadequate for not having achieved the impossible. This feeling of irrational inadequacy leads to spiraling depression, anorexia and self-mutilation. So, in effect, Daft Punk is blaming modern culture (represented by the television) for contributing to depression, anorexia and self-mutilation in young women.The music video for Technologic suggests that digital technology is reducing us all to shrunken little dolls like the Chuckie figure which is barely alive. He is sitting in a pyramid, which represents alot of stuff, including human institutions and aspirations as well as being something that contains dead people. (perhaps an allusion to the All Seeing Eye concept as well?) The Brainwasher is, of...