Stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream. (lost_angel) wrote,
Stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream.
lost_angel

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Cultural Alzheimers (Bear with me...)

Normally when I think about the mental or moral deficiencies of my generation, or hell, the past three generations of Americans starting with the one right before mine, I normally consider our apathy about important issues to be our most depressing and destructive characteristic.

With all the information that's so effortlessly dropped in our laps by the internet and Headline News, we're more aware than any of our generational predecessors, but we don't really care to do anything about it.

Of course there are exceptions, but most of us grew up with sex education. We know of the links between cigarettes and lung cancer. We know that excessive tanning can lead to skin cancer, and we saw Milli Vanilli hand back their Grammy's in shame.

We've seen the roller coaster or American issues and now think, really, that if things start to get too bad, the political climate will simply correct itself like it has before. The ozone layer has healed itself, Coca-Cola went back to the original formula after that whole New Coke fiasco, and even though Buffy is cancelled, we'll still have Angel, right?

But I'm beginning to wonder if our awareness is really as honed as we seem to think. The curse of history has always been that once its lessons are forgotten, we make the same mistakes over again and usually with worse consequences. Admittedly, with so much information overload, it's believable that older, less-immediately-important cached data is going to be over-written by new things.

Each new decade of students has whole 'nother decade of modern history to cram in under its educational belt. I don't think we even got to WWII in my high school AP American history class because there was so much to cover. Since then, my knowledge of WWII to contemporary American history has come from interested self-study and piecing together what I could gather from popular culture, movies, and references in newer articles.

But I know a lot more than the average person of my age in my region, as I am woe to discover.

Which brings me to my point which, albeit somewhat confusingly and not at all directly, wraps around to my anger at the most recent Wrangler Jeans advertisements.

If you haven't seen the commercials, let me describe a quick scene to you. Cashing in on the swelling American patriotism linked to September 11th and the recent Iraqi War, Wrangler has taken a few classic 1970's era songs and played them atop images of relaxed fit jeans, American flags, Western-style boots, hugging multiethnic models, and smiling "I love my country" faces.

To explain, I have no problem with the images or the combination thereof. What I have a problem with is the music. One of the songs that they've used has been Creedence Clearwater Revival's Fortunate Son, a song that represented the Vietnam War draftee's plight of reluctantly fighting in his country's name while many wealthy and privileged men used their father's influence and money to dodge the draft. It's highly critical of not just the war, but of the social disparity between wealthy people who didn't have to back up their patriotism and the people who had to fight and die for a country that didn't respect them.

What Wrangler has done is twist the meaning of the song to match its waving flags and smiling American faces by hacking out parts of the song that didn't match, turning the whole commercial (to those of us who know better) into a total lie!

They've kept these lines:
Some folks are born made to wave the flag
ooh, they're red, white and blue


Very misleading, yes, when you hear what the rest of the song has to say:
And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"
They point the cannon right at you

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no senator's son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one


Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, dont they help themselves
But when the tax man comes to the door,
Lord the house looks like a rummage sale

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no millionaire's son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war
And when you ask them, "How much should we give?"
They only answer "More! More! More!"

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no military son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one



Now that my cultural and historical sensibilities have been raped, my chief concern is to whom do I assign blame?

Should I be angry at Wrangler for spitefully misusing a song and perverting it for its own use, so contradictory to the song's meaning? Do they honestly realize how stupid they look to the people who have an appreciation for music that's more than five years old? Or is it part of their gimmick, to re-write cultural history; do they want us to remember the song in their positive light?

Should I be angry at John Fogerty for allowing his lyrics and music to be abused? He no longer owns them, but I'd be flaming pissed if I were him. However, Hollywood and Madison Avenue always get the last word.

Or, perhaps most vile of these options, should I be angry at my own generation who suffers from Cultural Alzheimer's, the ones who have either forgotten or were never aware of the sweeping social unrest that accompanied the Vietnam Conflict?

Wrangler is by no means the only company that's resurrected decades-old songs for reuse in commercials. Just look at Burger King, whose music selections have been at least tasteful and in good humor. Nor is it the first and last use of a song that departs from its original meaning. But this one, to date for me, most deeply betrayed not just the heart of the song, but also betrayed the trust of younger generations who will undoubtedly misunderstand it and, even more severely, betrayed the original generation whose lives and choices and actions wrote those lyrics as much as the artists themselves.

What's next? Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Ohio to sell Wrangler jeans and Kent State t-shirts?
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