Late Night Channel Surfing . . .
We can all guess which song was No. 1 on the list, can't we? (Hint: the answer is flappin' in the breeze.) Now, I have a certain fondness for Bob Dylan's famous ballad. I have some affection for a few of the other anointed songs, as well -- Peter Gabriel's Biko, U2's Sunday, Bloody, Sunday, Neil Young's Ohio. Thankfully, since those songs were written in response to specific historical events, they resist being wrenched out of context and pressed into the service of some sapped-of-content, historically ignorant "stance;" thus Garofolo and that Moby guy -- who, after all, aren't much interested in actual history (it's, like, too complicated, dude) -- can't do as much with them as they can with a sublime piece of garbage like Give Peace a Chance.
I want to make a "protest" video featuring Give Peace a Chance. St. John's remarkably trite little ditty would play over scenes of historical events where the world gave "peace" a chance -- ten million dead in a man-made famine in Ukraine, 750, 000 slaughtered in Rwanda, tens of thousands dying in Darfur, Soviet tanks in Budapest and Prague . . . and so it goes (to quote Kurt Vonnegut, a second-rate writer and "pacifist" who churned out precisely the kind of out-of-context, adolescent, anti-war fairy tale that counts as profound among the knitted-brow, hip-to-be-square-bespectacled, Janeane Garofolo set). Do you think I could get Garofolo and Moby Dick --and Springsteen, and Bonnie Raitt, and Michael Stipe -- on board for my protest?
For Garofolo and her ilk, "commitment" will always be more important than content. As I listened to Garofolo's earnest little pronouncements, I was reminded of a certain poster that used to annoy me. This particular poster hung in the faculty restroom of the high school where I taught, and said something like,"It doesn't matter what you believe or don't believe, but whether you care or don't care." The stupid thing bothered me so much that I wrote out the words on my classroom chalkboard and asked the girls in my Freshman Honors English class to tell me what was wrong with the statement. Molly, one of my brightest students, raised her hand immediately and nailed the answer. I don't remember what she said verbatim, but she used the classic example to illustrate her point (four letters, starts with N, ends with I, Garofolo thinks George Bush is one). I wonder what would happen if I tried that little experiment with a classroom full of Janeane Garofolo and her activist celebrity friends. Would they "get it" as readily as Molly did? What do you think? Anyone? Anyone?