Wednesday, January 15, 2014

TODAY IN RIGHT-WING POP CULTURE CLUELESSNESS

The Koch-linked National Federation of Independent Business was last mentioned on this blog a couple of years ago, when Joe Olivo, a businessman affiliated with the federation, curiously showed up on one news broadcast after another denouncing Obama administration policies without his federation affiliation (or other media appearances) ever being noted by his (apparently oblivious) interviewers. I don't have anything like that to report about the NFIB tonight. I just have this tweet to show you:





OK, first of all: a cassette? Seriously? In 2014? Was clip art of an 8-track tape not available?

And this is NFIB's idea of a pro-small-business mixtape? "Sixteen Tons"? You mean this "Sixteen Tons"?
While the song is usually attributed to Merle Travis, to whom it is credited on his 1946 recording, George S. Davis, a folk singer and songwriter who had been a Kentucky coal miner, claimed on a 1966 recording for Folkways Records to have written the song as "Nine-to-ten tons" in the 1930s. Davis' recording of his version of the song appears on the albums George Davis: When Kentucky Had No Union Men and Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian.

According to Travis, the line from the chorus, "another day older and deeper in debt", was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself. This and the line, "I owe my soul to the company store", is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices.
And "I Wanna Be Sedated"? Seriously? Never mind the fact that it was written by Joey Ramone, the most overtly left-leaning of the Ramones ("Livin' on a Prayer" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" were written by liberal rockers, too) -- "I Wanna Be Sedated" is, well, about wanting to be sedated. This is what entrepreneurial lifestyle is all about, according to the NFIB?

But the two most bizarre choices are on Side 2, back to back. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" (not "Buddy") is about the utter failure of the capitalist system during the Depression; its words were written by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, a now-deceased lyricist who's remembered on his official website, yipharburg.com, as "Broadway's social conscience":
Yip followed the dream of democratic socialism: He believed that all people should be guaranteed basic human rights, political equality, free education, economic opportunity and free health services. He spent most of his life fighting for these goals; his songs "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" and "Over the Rainbow" express these universal cries for hope in hard times to all peoples.
And then "Tubthumping" -- um, that was by Chumbawamba, a self-described anarchist collective. Chumbawamba is no more, but the group left us with this message, written just after the death of Margaret Thatcher:
... Let's make it clear: This is a cause to celebrate, to party, to stamp the dirt down. Tomorrow we can carry on shouting and writing and working and singing and striking against the successive governments that have so clearly followed Thatcher's Slash & Burn policies, none more so than the present lot. But for now, we can have a drink and a dance and propose a toast to the demise of someone who blighted so many people's lives for so long.

If we must show a little reverence and decorum at this time, then so be it. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all Margaret Thatcher's victims.
Wanna rethink that set list, NFIB?

12 comments:

Kathy said...

Reminds me of Ronald Reagan trying to appropriate "Born in the USA" by that nice Springsteen boy. Weird.

Victor said...

Kathy,
Also Nixon, wanting to look hip, inviting Elvis to help him with the "War on Drugs."

From the wiki of that epic meeting:
Elvis Presley, bored with his confined existence in Graceland, leaves his home on his own for the first time since he was 21. He winds up in California and is convinced by an Anti-war activist that he is responsible for the counterculture through his influence on The Beatles. This convinces Elvis to write a letter to President Nixon asking to be made a "Federal Agent at Large" for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. No such position actually exists, but Nixon, wanting desperately to win over the youth of America, which he views as hating him, decides to meet with Elvis in an attempt to improve his image with the "kids".

Elvis, the influential kid who influenced other influential kids, was almost 36 at the time.

Probably, with some drug issues of his own, already.

BKT said...

If Right-wingers are peddling this, it's probably available on Edison Wax Cylinder, too-- for all those hardliners who refused to believe them newfangled shellac recording platters would ever catch on...

Aunt Snow said...

Songs for small businesses in America? Well, drug dealers are entrepreneurs who have dreams, too. That's the only explanation I have for including the Ramones, although to be fair, it's from the POV of a customer.

Tom Hilton said...

This reminds me of National Review's similarly clueless Top 50 Right-Wing Rock Songs (which I mocked at the time). I think the lesson here is one we already know: conservatives understand nothing at all about popular culture.

Ten Bears said...

ROTFLMAO.

brett said...

like Paul Ryan and his love for Rage Against The Machine; totally oblivious to the issues

Victor said...

Testing...
Testing to see if I'm banned.

Victor said...

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Greg said...

Thing is, they don't really give a shit if it's strictly accurate or not. They see something in each individual song listed that supports their grand narrative, and they run with it. Remember here, we're dealing with people who dig the concept of creating their own realities.

Never Ben Better said...

Could be, Greg; or it could be that some org. honcho told some underling "Come up with a playlist for the glories of hard work, making it in America, success, that kinda stuff, kid; put it on some kinda musicky image so I can tweet it; you know what I mean? And don't screw around or your ass is outta here!"

And the "kid", who's already got his/her resume out, and knows just how clueless the boss is, decides to have a little fun....

Brian Doan said...

Only want to add that the character whose perspective we hear in "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" is also a World War I vet, who notes the bitter irony of a country sending him to war, waving the flag when he returned, and then abandoning him in his time of need. Given the right's current exploitation of vets in a similar manner, you wouldn't think the NFIB would want to call attention to the (great) song.