Pretentious? That’s Not Pretentious. That’s Pretentious.
In a 100 percent perfectly titled post, Patrick at Popehat (and Ann Althouse) tears asunder the nomination of Merle Haggard’s classic Okie From Muskogie for Andrew Sullivan’s poll on the “smuggest, most pretentious pop song in history.” How, after all, can a song that anyone with even a modicum of understanding of music, much less country music, much less the awesomeness that is Merle Haggard, would understand is just supposed to be fun be simultaneously “pretentious”?
Answer: it can’t.
And, while we’re here….
It’s no doubt appropriate that Michael Jackson is nominated in this category (for “Earth Song,” with which I’m unfamiliar). But the failure to nominate “Heal the World” is just appalling. What makes that song so particularly pretentious is that, unlike any of the other songs on the list, the world’s largest television audience of 1993 was forced to endure it in the middle of an already-terrible Super Bowl (eventually won by the Cowboys 52-17 over Don Beebe and the Buffalo Bills). This is a song that was so pretentious that it even made people who were actually at the game forget about the fact that the score was already 28-10, the game effectively over, Frank Reich’s (just weeks removed from orchestrating the Greatest Comeback of All Time) presence coming on in relief of an injured Jim Kelly notwithstanding. Indeed, when the song started playing, the fellow Bills fan sitting immediately behind me proudly asked “Anybody got a rifle?” Worse still, this pretentious jerk decided to compound the pretentiousness of his gawdawful song by making the 100,000 people in attendance hold up fucking placards. With cartoon children on them. Holding hands. For six fucking minutes.
What kind of an egotistical, pretentious, and smug maniac subjects a captive audience of hundreds of millions of people to his pretentiousness while enlisting the forced labor of 100,000 innocents (including the guy from the gas station around the corner from me who flew across country to attend and buy tickets off a scalper) in the process?