Saturday, June 10, 2006

Our Marshall MacLuhan Moment

You know that great scene in Annie Hall, when Woody and Diane are behind the guy in the movie line who's spewing complete nonsense about Marshall MacLuhan, so Woody steps out of the screen and brings MacLuhan in to say he's wrong, wrong, wrong?

How many times in your life have you wished for that opportunity?

It's now yours.

I blogged a few weeks ago on the insanity of the NRO's Top Fifty Conservative Rock Songs. Number One, of course, was The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Wingnuts, meet Pete Townshend.

Won't Get Fooled Again has been listed in the UK Independent Newspaper as the number one song with - as I understand it - the political message most often misunderstood - in this case the message is said to be 'conservative', a word that may mean different things in the UK and USA.

Of course the song has no party-allied political message at all. It is not precisely a song that decries revolution - it suggests that we will indeed fight in the streets - but that revolution, like all action can have results we cannot predict. Don't expect to see what you expect to see. Expect nothing and you might gain everything.

The song was meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the centre of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause.

Shove that up your hole of artistic intention.

(And in case you think Pete's not paying attention to all this, think again. Tom Watson has some terrific reflections on the role of blogs in this circumstance. He and Pete, err, talked about it. {Insert adolescent girlscream here.})


ntodd said...


Aquaria said...


A non-netizen coworker laughed his ass off today when I told him what conservatives had done with "Won't Get Fooled Again." A sigh after he caught his breath, and "They really don't get it, do they?"

We pretty much agreed that WGFA was a bit of "be careful what you ask for" mixed with a dash of nihilism and a heavy dose of jaded ennui. The song I usually link it to in my mind is Lennon's "Revolution." The themes are extremely similar.

The other listing that had me scratch my head was "Wouldn't It Be Nice?"

Yeah, it's a very pretty and sweet song, but these conservatards don't seem to get the underlying message in it, which is pretty much, "I love you so much I want to shag you senseless as much and as long as possible--don't care if it's as husband and wife or not."

Besides, it's insulting to think that, if their idea is that this is a song about "Savin' It" for marriage, then only conservatives do that, while liberals don't. And that just ain't so.

Gardner said...
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Gardner said...

Thanks for these links, NYMary. Watson's going on my blogroll right away, as soon as I get over my horrible case of pea-green envy....

I do think that Pete's comments make it clear, however, that wingnuts on both wings just don't get it. If all the progressives/liberals start patting each other's backs about how smart they are and how dumb and jerky the conservatives are, they'll be staging their own re-enactment of the "meet the new boss" line.

Fewer wingwalkers and better pilots. That's what we need. In my view.

And P.S., I beg to differ with aquaria about the underlying message of "Wouldn't It Be Nice." The real subversion in this song is not sexual but political, in the broadest sense: "in the kind of world where we belong."

Anonymous said...

these people will grab at any contextual (or non-contextual) clue that makes it look as if an artist that does not suck ass subscribes to their worldview. i once saw an entire columon in the national review dedicated to the proposition that the comic strip bloom county was actually a conservative comic - you see, ed meese once laughed at it.

NYMary said...

Gardner, I'm not disputing that. On Townshend's site, he says he didn't really see the song as political at all: it was Daltrey's delivery that gave it that urgency, which I completely understand.

The comedy in this, as I see it, is the crisis of the South Park conservatives to appear hip, and the selective readings necessary to create that impression. Me, I'm zestfully unhip, and don't really care.

Gardner said...

Zestfully unhip: now that's a zeitgeist I can embrace. :-) Nice!

refinnej said...

"Me, I'm zestfully unhip, and don't really care."

Hey, you're plenty hip...

"Bloom County" conservative? My God but these people are deluded...

Aquaria said...

The "kind of world" where they belong might be somewhat political, but, for the most part, it's a reference to the "adult" world that teenagers aren't a part of.

Gardner said...

From the guy who sings on that album that he just wasn't made for these times ... I'm thinking there's more here than a wish to grow up.

I'm talking political with a capital "P." :)