Penelope Scott: ‘Rät’ Lyrics & Meaning Explained by Verified

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Penelope Scott “Rät” Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified’ by Genius

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The song “Rat” is a sarcastically sweet reflection on tech worship, moral complexities, societal impact, personal experiences, and criticism of societal structures and biases, with references to Elon Musk, Thomas Malthus, Night in the Woods, and the struggle between old and new beliefs.

Key Insights

  • The name "Rat" originated from the meme that Elon Musk's full name is Elongated Muskrat.
  • The song was not intended to be solely about Elon Musk but rather based on a meme that people would enjoy.
  • The song was created with a clear vision of being sarcastically sweet, overproduced, and incorporating video game sounds.
  • The lyrics mention a love for science and technology but not an in-depth knowledge of Elon Musk's life.
  • Elon Musk is seen as a symbol of tech worship due to his personable nature, Twitter presence, and memetic actions.
  • The song reflects on the disillusionment of pursuing a corporate career in computer science and the complexity of moral questions.
  • Thomas Malthus is referenced in the song as a hidden Easter egg for those studying economics and critical of his ideas.
  • Selmers from the game Night in the Woods represents complicated moral situations and a critique of tech billionaires.
  • The song expresses a sense of feeling stupid and used, questioning the societal impact of science without addressing poverty.
  • The lyrics incorporate personal experiences, prep school education, and a desire for societal progress beyond colonization.
  • Trauma and the fear of challenging societal norms are addressed, along with regret for being complicit in regrettable actions.
  • The song includes elements of salt, vitriol, and criticism towards societal structures and biases.
  • The lyrics also touch on society's ability to produce surplus food but failing to eliminate issues like hunger.
  • The emotion of love and embarrassment is expressed, along with an ongoing struggle between old and new beliefs.
  • The phrase "faux rad west coast dogma" highlights the perception of radical technological advancement as faux or fake.

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Transcript

[Transcript]

The name Rat comes from a meme from 2014 that says that Elon Musk is short for Elongated Muskrat. The song wasn’t meant to center around one person to the degree that it’s been interpreted. I just thought that people would like the meme. But that’s why it was Muskrat and then shortened to Rat. It was a pretty clean process.

A lot of times, I think you start out with a song and it’s kind of messy and you have to make a lot of decisions about which part of the song’s aesthetic you’re going to go towards and which parts are going to give up. Rat wasn’t like that. Rat was pretty early. I knew it was going to be kind of a sarcastically sweet, overproduced, kind of crunchy beat and a lot of video game sounds. And it kind of was pretty easy to write, actually.

Things that I was taught, just like a daddy should, would have been kind of a almost overzealous, but makes sense at the time, love of science and technology. It’s not that I know a lot about Elon Musk. I actually didn’t do any research for this song. I had no idea that it would become what it is. I have no idea pretty much anything about his life. But he’s a good pick for a symbol of tech worship because he’s done a lot of work to be personable and to have a Twitter presence and to do things as a meme. And that plays really well in places like where I grew up, near Silicon Valley, which really loved technology. And if you’re 14 and this guy tweets, “I’m going to make a tunnel” as a joke, you’re like, he’s the coolest guy in the world. I studied code because I wanted to do something great like you. And the real tragedy is half of it was true.

The tragedy was just kind of the slow realization that what you do with a coding or not coding, but a computer science degree often is pretty corporate. It’s very rare that people are able to find a place for them to do work that makes them happy and also uses this really fun and important skill. But we’ve been fucking mean. We’re elitist. We’re as flawed as any church. And this faux red West Coast dogma has a higher fucking net worth.

I bit the apple because I trusted you. It tastes like Thomas Malthus. Your proposal is immodest and insane. Thomas Malthus is who we were learning about in my econ class. I thought it would be fun to hide that little Easter egg in there for people who are currently going through econ classes and have just read about Thomas Malthus and are like, man, he sucks. Like he’s a mean little man.

And I hope someday Selmers rides her fucking train. I hope someday Selmers rides her fucking train is a reference to Selmers from Night in the Woods. There is a scene where you and another friend come across her in the library and witness her reading a poem and you bring your friend in and you’re like, oh, she’s going to read one of her little poems. They’re pretty cute. And then she reads this like paragraph long, scathing, does not rhyme, but has rhythm poem about how she’s so sick of hearing about tech God boy billionaires in Silicon Valley and how someday she might just take a train to Silicon Valley and start fires. And while I don’t necessarily advocate for taking trains places and starting fires, I think that the game Selmers as a character and the creators involved are all really good examples of complicated moral situations and complicated moral questions.

I loved you. I loved you. I loved you. It’s true. I wanted to be you and do what you do. I lived here. I loved here. I thought it was true. I feel so stupid and so used. I feel so used.

If you’re making great machines that do incredible things, but they don’t address the problem of society, which right now is poverty, right? It’s not clear that science, it’s invention, it’s innovation, but I’m not sure that that’s what science is.

I was your baby. You’re first born, the hot girl in your comp sci class. And I was Darwin’s prep school dream bred, born and raised to kick your ass. I did go to prep school. I went to an academically minded and artsy prep school that was supposed to like prepare you to change the world. And it was this huge thing. And it wasn’t until later that you kind of look back on that and go, was this 100% the kind of forward thinking model that we were all led to believe it was? Or is this line of thinking in general used to justify elitism?

I fell for circuit boards, rocket ships, pictures of the stars. If you could only be what you pretend you are. When I said take me to the moon, I never meant take me alone. I thought if mankind toward the sky, it meant that all of us could go. But I don’t want to see the stars if they’re just one more piece of land for us to colonize, for us to turn to sand. When we say colonizing with reference to like other planets, it’s often thought of as this like cool, sexy thing. We’re all just going to leave this planet because it’s like melting and we’re going to go to Mars. And you’re like, it’s the same word. It’s the same word for a reason. So I wanted to just kind of draw that comparison because I think it’s an easy one to draw and it sounds good in a song.

You will often get to a point with an adult that you trust where you say, well, why don’t we just do it this way? And they say, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re naive. You don’t understand. If you just had lived in this society, as long as I’ve lived in the society, you totally understand why it has to be so fucked up. That’s trauma. That’s like pretty clearly trauma, the idea that there’s a thing that’s clearly right and you’re so scared to do it because you’ve never lived in a place where it was possible is traumatic.

The language of used and abused and I loved you and all of that in this song is meant to be kind of a see-through attempt at deflection. This is really a song about being complicit in things that you later regret. And a part of that is trying to kind of deal with the sense that you feel stupid for being involved and nobody made you do it, but also you were little. So how are you to know? I think that those two lines together, the first one saying, I also feel bad about having religion, society, and don’t really know what I’m doing. I haven’t figured out how to deal with this yet. And then the next line being, and also I don’t need your help, was meant to kind of cover both angles of I would be biased in saying what I’m about to say. So if any girl on earth should get to make a call about this, it should be me. And as I see it, you’re a dick.

I’m not even sure if I have much to say about this line. It really was just a little bit of salt and a little bit of vitriol.

The thing that is wild and has always been wild is the idea that for a lot of human society, the population was dictated by how much food we could produce. And then at a certain point, we were able to produce more than enough food. You would think that when that occurred, the immediate next step would be like, and then they ended hunger because they could. And why would they not? But that’s just not what happened.

And the worst part is I loved you. I loved you. I loved you. It’s true. And sometimes I feel like I still fucking do. I lived here. I loved here. I bought it. It’s true. I’m so embarrassed. I feel abused. I feel so used. I feel so used.

Take me to the moon. I feel so used. I feel so used. I guess this is kind of a song about being between worlds and going back and forth between the old belief and the new belief. And a lot of people who go through that in any capacity, doesn’t have to be the one that I’m talking about, go through phases where they want to revert to a time before they understood what things were. So, you know, you throw that in to kind of be an emotional thing.

Faux rad west coast dogma was meant to be faux like fake and then rad like radical. So the idea that going full force into technological advancement is radical is a popular belief. It’s not, again, necessarily true.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Penelope Scott “Rät” Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified’ by Genius