THE SECRETS OF AMERICAN POLITICS REVEALED IN THE LYRICS TO ONE STUPID FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD FAUX-METAL ROCK SONG
I was working on a home improvement project this weekend and I had an odd train of thought that led from one of the dumbest hit songs of the past twenty years (a song that was sort of about home improvement) to American politics in the modern era.
If you find this baffling, I'll explain.
Back in the early 1990s, there was an inexplicable hit song: a joke-metal retelling of a fairy tale "Three Little Pigs" by a group called Green Jello. (The band later changed its name to Green Jelly, with an umlaut over the "y," in an attempt to avoid legal trouble from the Jell-O people.)
A few years ago, in a moment of weakness, I actually downloaded "Three Little Pigs"; it's been sitting on my hard drive ever since, and I listened to it again recently. (You can watch the Wallace & Gromit-esque video here.) I was thinking about the song as my mind wandered during my home improvement project -- and it occurred to me that the slight changes to the fairy tale that show up in the song's lyrics actually track the political worldview of many Americans.
In the song, as in the fairy tale, the Big Bad Wolf blows down the poorly built houses of two little pigs, while the third pig's house is wolf-breath resistant. But the song fills in the third pig's back story:
Well the third little piggy, the grade A student.
His daddy was a rock star, named Pig Nugent.
Earned his master's degree from Harvard College.
Built his house from his architect knowledge.
A tri-level mansion, Hollywood Hills.
Daddy's rock stardom, paid for the bills
He got an education, but only because he's a spoiled rich kid.
In the fairy tale, all three pigs batten themselves down in the third pig's brick house, the wolf's final attack fails, and bigness and badness are defeated. But that doesn't happen in the song. Despite the sturdiness of the third pig's house, the pigs still need help to defeat the wolf -- help, in this case, from Rambo. (No, this is not serious metal, folks.) Only when Rambo arrives and shoots up everything in sight is the wolf defeated.
Come on -- you don't think this is a metaphor for how most Americans see politics?
The third pig is the Democratic Party. The pig is well educated and his ideas actually work -- but he's cosseted and he got all his book-learnin' because his father had money that came from the entertainment industry. (Yes, the first little pig, as we learn at the beginning of the song, has dreams of being a rock star, but he doesn't make it; the wealth and status that come from the entertainment business inspire both emulation and resentment, as in real life.)
And besides, the third pig can't really solve a Big Bad Wolf problem. For that, you need a big, dumb, macho, posturing, inarticulate hero -- in other words, a Republican.
To judge from their Wikipedia bio, Green Jello/Jelly were ordinary kids before they had their one fluke hit, and you get the feeling that they probably think our society more or less works this way -- that well-educated people actually do know what they're doing, but get that knowledge because they were fortunate to have money ... and that, well, you still need tough guys to really take care of a problem once and for all.
A lot of Americans think that way. And that's why I think Hillary Clinton is going to lose in 2008.