Randy Newman offers up his defence for America

Rolling Stone gave it the number two spot in its song of the year reviews and Steve Jobs gave him centre stage at MacWord 2008 after his keynote address.


An interesting tune from Randy Newman who sees the American empire on the wane…

that sucked. but he’s right.

I think he makes his point artfully and tactfully. Love the guy, and agree.

Everything that I know about Randy Newman is from when he is parodied on Family Guy.

Try as he might I really don’t think there is any defense for the atrocities the US has been behind over the years in the name of “democracy/freedom”

Saying its our leaders fault and not ours when more than half of your population voted for those people is pretty fucking retarded IMO.

Truthfully I only got 2 min in before he annoyed the fuck out of me.

I’m going to go out on a limb and propose that you missed the point entirely.

Randy Newman commonly writes songs from the perspective of “simple men” [read: ignorant men] to play a sort of ragtime devil’s advocate with political issues.

Try “Political Science (Let’s Drop The Big One)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGoD0nO58WY)

The part that really stuck in my throat was when he used ancient empires as a comparison to modern day America.  Saying ancient Rome was much worse than present day America?  Well, I would hope so.  The Spanish Inquisition?  Well the US hasn’t anything like that, except maybe the committee on un-American Activities headed by Senator McCarthy or perhaps parts of the Patriot act.  King Leopold of Belgium?  I don’t know who would think he was in any way a great man, but his excesses in Africa were being committed at the same time the US was importing African men, women and children as slaves.

So, while I believe Randy Newman has the right idea that the world shouldn’t blame Americans for the action of their government, he should have done a little more research and used less dated “facts” for comparison.

I hate to bring this “fact” to you Illy, but the King Leopold he’s talking about is probably King Leopold II as he became king the same year that the US abolished slavery (1865) and he is the one that created the Congo Free State and created some pretty nasty working conditions like killing people for failing to meet quotas in rubber harvesting.  A cut-off hand was to be brought in as a proof of the kill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State#Leopold.27s_rule

Without Leopold II, we wouldn’t have had the Congo Free State (his personal colony, not Belgium’s, so the comparison doesn’t work with the USA.  It’s not like Iraq is W’s personal colony).

Without the Congo Free State we wouldn’t have had Heart of Darkness.

Without Heart of Darkness we wouldn’t have had “Apocolypse Now.”

Without “Apocolypse Now” we wouldn’t have ‘I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.’

So it’s not all bad.

Alright then, I will repeat myself:
Randy Newman does not literally believe in the words he sings and says in this song.

He’s writing from the perspective of a fictionalized character, as he often does. You’re right to question the historical comparisons he makes. Did you even get to the part of the song where he complains about the supreme court? His whole perspective is fallible. His defense is incongruous. That’s the point.

I also find it noteworthy that, in general, the people who can’t penetrate the irony of this song are the kind who summarily judge Americans. If you can’t withhold your preconceptions to parse a simple lyric, what makes you think could responsibly vote in a media-cluttered US election?

[By the way, Miguel, that’s some pretty astute linkage! Kevin Bacon would be proud!]

As MiG likes to say…  Zing!

There are ignorant people everywhere.  Canada’s no exception.

I’ve met people in Prince Rupert who don’t know much about the rest of the province, let alone the rest of Canada.  How do you expect them to know anything about another country?  It’s much easier to just apply the “stupid Americans” stereotype (that’s often selectively reinforced by tourists here).

I met a guy in Arkansas who knew more about BC than I did.  And a state trooper in Maine knew the name of the restaurants in Prince Rupert.  Not to mention the border agent at the Portland airport who not only knew Prince Rupert, but stamped our passports just because we asked nicely (apparently, they don’t do that anymore).

Yeah, there are ignorant Americans.  There’s a lot of ignorant Canadians too.


If only every country were so lucky as to have Maury bleachers and a No Spin Zone to show off the demographic to the rest of the world. : )