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Cultural Alzheimers (Bear with me...) - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
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?

mood: pissed off pissed off
music: CCR's "Fortunate Son"

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yermie From: yermie Date: September 5th, 2003 06:24 am (UTC) (link)

Nice rant.

To add fuel to your fire....

I heard on the radio this morning that the top 2 "fears" in this country right now are the economy and terrorism (in that order). They were trying to make a big deal out of the fact that 9/11 was 2 years ago, and yet people are still afraid of terrorism. Apparently, 70% (or something like that) of people feel that the world today is a more dangerous place than it was 10 years ago.

Personally, yes, I'm scared of terrorism, but not in the way most people think. Thanks to terrorist events (especially 9/11), our government has committed atrocities of human rights, and taken lots of rights away from the people, in an attempt to promote "security". And, if confronted about such, they dodge the issue / lie.

What I think is very ironic about this is that had all these current "security" measures been in place, 9/11 would have still happened. So we have lots of new "security procedures" that wouldn't have stopped the terrorists in the one big event that spawned all the rules.

I'm not entirely convinced that the administration didn't know this was coming. I have seen sites about things that don't "feel" like we were surprised. And, despite claims to the contrary, I think Flight 93 (the PA crash) was shot down. How else does the engine end up multiple miles away from the rest of the crash?

But of course, I'm a conspiracy theorist in my spare time, so there's no telling if this is accurate or not.
(Deleted comment)
yermie From: yermie Date: September 5th, 2003 04:42 pm (UTC) (link)

Re: Nice rant.

I realize this is not the place for such, plus I was at work at the time, so I did not have such sources with me. However, here's a few samples:

Mr. Sniper - Lee Malvo. The only incriminating statements he has made (at all), were while being questioned without his lawyer /guardian present(illegal, since he's a minor), after being denied access to his lawyer (he requested his lawyer be present, the officers told him this was not related to the sniper incidents, it was "off the record"). When his lawyer tried to get those statements tossed out, the judge would not allow it.

They are charging him here in VA first, because we have no problems with giving the death penalty to minors. I feel very confident that he is going to receive a fair trial, after which he will be taken out and shot. I don't really have a problem with it... he's guilty, he knows it, we know it, it's pretty obvious. The question is, which (or how many) of the killings is he responsible for?

Camp X-ray, and the Taliban boy (John? can't think of his name... the guy who moved overseas & joined the Taliban, then got caught by our troops). According to the Geneva convention, POW's are supposed to be given certain rights (health care, food, etc.). Little Taliban boy (who was wounded while being captured) was promised he'd get such only after he "confessed". Our government has been very careful to prevent calling the "residents" of camp Xray POW's (since that would require us to give them certain rights / benefits).

Now, again, I don't agree with these people, nor with what they've done. What I have problems with is that the government is
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: September 6th, 2003 06:35 am (UTC) (link)

Re: Nice rant.

Since I can't seem to read navydave's post (it only has a link in the thread, but no post, and he mentioned he was having trouble reposting it after he'd deleted it to make some changes), the main thing I really want to say here is that you are welcome to make these kinds of posts in my journal. They might be slightly off topic, but you can see that it didn't really stop alcamar either :)

It also looks like your comment was cut off slightly, too, so I don't know if there's something wrong with the thread altogether.

Either way, I, too, have become more frightened of my government which has become less and less accountable for its actions (or perhaps it is only my awareness that is increasing). Even more disturbing (and this relates to history repeating itself), I see our government making choices that not only limit our freedoms, but also coming dangerously close to removing the protection of habeus corpus and rights of the accused (specifically with the examples that you've mentioned with sniper as well as Camp X-Ray).

I like neither this inconsistent and inequal application of protection (meaning the accused) under the law, nor do I prefer to limiting everyone's pretrial rights to level out this inequality.

I know I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, to say that terrorist attacks of September 11th succeeding in destroying the American way of life: our freedom, our equal protection under the law, and the accountability of government to its people.

This is somewhat on-topic, but I really need to make a post about this documentary I watched called The Trials of Henry Kissinger. I'm not sure if I made a post about it or if I did but barely skirted over its main points. Right now, I'll just post a few links and let you read for yourself. The book and later documentary concern executive decisions and influence that Kissinger has made/held in his past that shows a seedier, more murderous, more despicable power of government that our country has exercised both domestically and abroad (more emphasis on the international effects). It reaffirmed through example and reason why American is both the most feared and most hated country in the world outside of its own borders.

http://www.trialofhenrykissinger.org/...the book

http://www.firstrunfeatures.com/th/Kissinger/thmain.html...the documentary
(Deleted comment)
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: September 6th, 2003 06:37 am (UTC) (link)
Oh yes, I completely forgot about "Born in the USA". Very good example. For many childhood years, I took only the simplified patriotic meaning that had been handed to me. Only much later did I realize what the words really meant, and how they'd been abused by Reagan, who I still can't help liking because of my childhood love for the government and the presidency.
everraven From: everraven Date: September 5th, 2003 07:07 am (UTC) (link)

Catchy tunes

Well - I know its not exactly a "political" song - but I can never hear the song "Hey Good Looking" without following up the "watcha got cooking" line with "hows about cooking something up with cheese" The song, forevermore, we make me want a slice of american cheese. No matter where I hear it, who is singing it - I see melting cheese every time.

Advertising - how I lothe thee. They take my favorite songs and twist, turn and rape them. They warp the meaning, destroy the soul and just turn it into a 30second blurb for some product I was going to purchase anyway. And television shows are NO better - they steal songs every day. Need a song for the show "Family Law" where you see the daily struggle of dealing with Divorce and Chancery Court issues - use the classic 60's protest song "War" (not sung by Jackie Chan). Need a song for CSI - to portray how hard these guys are looking for the bad guy? Use "Who Are You" - another classic which was probably NOT written with dead bodies and morgues in mind.

And whats really sad, is the shows I respect for their music shelled out good money for ORIGINAL work. I cannot hear the Mash Theme nor the Theme for Saint Elsewhere that I don't recall their final episodes and feel nostaligic. I hear the theme to West Wing and get all patriotic, the theme to ER and look around for an ambulance. But let me here the theme for Third Watch - which is "Keep Hope Alive" by Crystal Method and all I can think is "Damn, wish I could hear the whole song"
From: tatecakes Date: September 5th, 2003 08:50 am (UTC) (link)
I agree with you. CCR is a favorite band of mine and I of course would not have used Fortunate Son in that commercial. I had this same conversation with my Dad about it.

However, step out of your shoes for a moment into an advertisers shoes. If you play the song two people will hear it.
a) Those that know -> They will be angry but will remember your commercial.
b) Those that don't -> The music will swell them with pride to be an American, because alone, those lyrics are beautiful.

You can't expect everyone to know all music. People use tidbits of things all the time. Things are defiled constantly and looped from their orginal meanings. What counts is not the words, not the origions, but the feeling. Patriotism... Should we limit it to being inspired just by the things we think are just? Who is to dictate what is right and wrong?

I wouldn't have done it, but consider that too.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: September 6th, 2003 07:01 am (UTC) (link)
First, thanks for commenting. I appreciate well-thought-out responses and the confidence to speak/write them.

Second, I understand the goal of marketing to attract my attention and maintain it (regardless of the emotions that the advertisement has evoked). However, even though I can see from the advertisers' points of view, I can't approve of their actions. In general, I don't approve when anyone, person or corporation or public entity or press, misleads or lies. But that's why I tend more toward writing for my own pleasure and increased awareness of the often questionable truth and understanding (and hence why I appreciate your comments).

What counts is not the words, not the origions, but the feeling. Patriotism... Should we limit it to being inspired just by the things we think are just? Who is to dictate what is right and wrong?

Your questions, however rhetorical, beg me to answer. Patriotism is an empty virtue without worthwhile reasons to inspire it. While I recognize that my ethical scheme differs from that of others, I simply can't have pride in something or someone of which I disapprove. Or more specifically, I distinguish between loving my country for many of its principles while still admonishing it for its practices.

In simpler language, yes, we should limit patriotism to characteristics that are just. I am unable to be prideful or patriotic of things I am ashamed. And while my personal moral code differs from that of many others, I must operate according to it, or lose legitimacy of thought and action altogether.
princessmargo From: princessmargo Date: September 5th, 2003 09:44 am (UTC) (link)
advertising is an instrument of the devil.
alcamar From: alcamar Date: September 5th, 2003 12:53 pm (UTC) (link)
In many ways I'm the embodyment of what you describe :)

Regarding WWII stuff, I recently went to the DDay museum in New Orleans. I think I learned more there than I ever did in high school. However, I think this is more due to my change in attitude about stuff like that. In high school, all I cared about was watching tv(blind, mindless type activity), playing on the computer, and doing just enough to get through school. I didn't study, I didn't CARE about history at all. It wasn't my interests, and thus I paid as little attention to it as possible. Now, while I do know the majority of what went on during WWII, after the museum trip, I realize there was alot that I missed. However, in continuing apathy, I don't figure I'll end up going back and catching up on the history beyond what I already know. It is of the least interest to me, and well I have more that I'd rather do(yes, lots of it time wasting stuff, but...)
Anyways, go ahead and flame me, I know ya want to :P No, I think it's part of what you said, an overabundance of information, we are overwhelmed and take in only what we feel necessary(which may not always be what is needed). We have so many more areas of life to go into, and as we continue to "advance" in technology and life, we further finetune those areas, breaking them up into even more specialized sectors.

Think about this for a second. Computer Science. When you think of it, what do you think of? Programming right? Well, there is numerous areas of programming, there's php/mysql. There's simple html(no, not really programming, but many ppl consider it such), there's javascript, etc. Then there's application programming, using java, c/c++, fortran, etc. etc. etc. Then you have to consider what platform, linux, unix, windows, apple. Then are you doing the GUI, or are you doing backend. Then to farther seperate things, it doesn't even have to be programming, it could be system admin type stuff. You could be the one who puts together and sets up machines, can be network admin, script kiddie/system upkeep type person. Then you could also be the hardware guy for a place, building computers, or even more indepth, programming and building the CPU's that we all use. The list just keeps going on and on, and this is just one specific area of life. That's alot of information for anyone to take in, and I doubt anyone has been even close to being able to do all those areas. Plus, consider that computers are a constantly growing field, that new stuff is out on almost a daily basis sometimes.
It's this kinda overabundance that almost forces us to start to specialize at earlier and earlier ages. For me, I quickly shuffled off the history aspect of my life, and went with the tech aspect. And as things continue, it'll only get more specialized from here. There are few people that take on so many things and are still able to specialize in one area. And that's about what it takes for society today(from my pov at least), that you've gotta find your area of expertise, find your "Niche" in life. There's going to be even less of the "Jack of all Trades, Master of None", and more of a "I know only how to do this one thing". We are starting to become mindless automatons, building, working, continuing through life just to go on to another day of the same old stuff.
How do we fix it, I donno, that's someone else's job. Mine is to graduate and get a job, and continue my automaton status in life..., hehe.

Oh, and it's not "swelling" American patriotism, it's jump on the bandwagon because if I don't I'll look like an unAmerican racist bigot. Thus my big reason for NOT displaying any sorta flag like half the ppl are doing nowadays. It's a matter of who you are and how you act, not what you show off to other ppl(much like religion). However, I'm gonna end there, cuz I could continue to rant on about that for a long time..., hehe.
igorxa From: igorxa Date: September 5th, 2003 03:42 pm (UTC) (link)
i don't watch tv. i must be unamerican. but shhhhh, don't tell anyone about the chinese and soviet flags in my room.
10 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft