Go Fuck Yourself with Your Atom Bomb Pop Songs

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Here's a measure of how far the Middle East still has to go, at least in terms of pop culture attitudinizing toward power (nuclear power, that is).

Some 50 years ago, Allen Ginsberg told "America" to "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb."

A decade or two after that, Frank Zappa noted that having nuclear weapons and football teams helps, but "you can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline."

In 1978, the LA-based Weirdos waxed ironic with the tune "We Got the Neutron Bomb."

And now:

In recent days, Iran's airwaves have been buzzing with two new tunes apparently designed to rally public support for the clerical regime's increasingly tense stand-off with the West over its nuclear ambitions.

The first song is entitled "Oriental Sun, Nuclear Science," and sung to a backdrop of military-style marching music by Ali Tafreshi. The second similarly catchy tune is "Nuclear Know-How" by Reza Shirazi.

Both extol the wonders of a "great and powerful Iran" which has destroyed "the arrogance of the oppressors" and "defends its independence by using science."

Whole bit, courtesy of AFP via Lebanon's Daily Star, here.

Reason's Charles Paul Freund unveiled the deeper meaning of Middle Eastern pop videos a while back. Let's hope there's some sort of eye-rolling going on over there when it comes to Iran's nuclear chart-toppers.

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  1. Quick, somebody call Timbuk 3! I think we can get them a gig.

  2. It’s time to send in the KISS army.

  3. If we can laugh at Toby Keith’s redneck nationalism, why can’t the Iranians laugh at Reza Shirazi?

  4. Will there be an Iranian Thomas Dolby with a tune called “We Blinded them with Nuclear Flash”

  5. Where’s Ted Nugent with “Bound and Gagged” or Sammy Hagar with “VOA” when we need them?

  6. Will there be an Iranian Thomas Dolby with a tune called “We Blinded them with Nuclear Flash”

    Or perhaps an Iranian The Buggles with their hit, “Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction Killed the Video Star”.

  7. The Arab world will eventually achieve its long-delayed goal of liberalized modernity; it might just as well dance itself there.

    I’ve questioned the idea of popular culture as a mechanism of Reverse Domino Theory in the past…

    …but if an equation works in one direction, why not the other?

  8. Where’s Ted Nugent with “Bound and Gagged” or Sammy Hagar with “VOA” when we need them?

    Nowhere near my ears, I hope.

  9. smacky,

    *chortle*

  10. I just listened to Irans UN Ambassador Zarif give his take on the whole standoff and thought I would share with the reasonites. He believes a large part of the problem is due to “misperceptions.” He noted that Iran had not launched an offensive war in 250 years, that Iran was the first country to oppose Saddam (and did so at a time when the US was helping Iraq use WMDs against Iran), and that Iran has the most to gain from a stable Iraq. He also said that it does not make sense for Iran to begin an arms race in the middle east because he believes they would ultimately lose to wealthier, more US-friendly countries.
    Mostly Zarif was just a very smoorth diplomat, but he got a little excited during the Q&A when some kid used his question to give Zarif a speech on his opinion of Iran’s lack of democracy.
    Zarif basically replied that yes, the government only allowed 7 of the 1000 canidates to run, but that those 7 candidates represented a far more diverse range of political leanings than the two in the US and that after the runoff the 2 candidates presented a clear choice between a conservative and a liberal and that “just like in the US” the conservative won.
    The over riding theme of his whole talk was, we’re not so different from you.
    One thing I would have liked to hear him say was whether or not he though Iran should be allowed to have nuclear weapons. He made a lot of points to demonstrate showing why they wouldn’t WANT nukes and how they have complied with IAEA requests. But he also noted how effective of a deterrent North Korea’s nukes were. I wanted him to just come out and say, whether we build nukes or not is going to be up to us.

  11. Interesting Matt.

    I would have liked to ask him why the people of the United States should trust the government of Iran to be any more forthright with us than they are with their own people.

    …or, indeed, why we should expect a nuclear Iran to treat Americans any differently than the way they treat their own dissidents.

  12. Watching Iranians (or any government for that matter) try to engineer popular culture is like watching Data from Star Trek try to grasp humor. The elements are all there in the proper ratio, but something is just missing that makes the whole attempt laughable.

  13. Shem – this is our secret weapon: we are cool, and they are not. No matter how many dollars they spend on bribing Hollywood, no matter how much they insist “It’s cool to say no to drugs!”, no matter how many celebrities they get to appear in PSAs. They will always be The Man, and The Man, whatever his other qualities, is not cool.

  14. The Man is not cool.

    …That’s right up there with “Free Minds and Free Markets”.

  15. (Disclaimer: I have no sympathy with the Iranian government.)

    I would have liked to ask him why the people of the United States should trust the government of Iran to be any more forthright with us than they are with their own people.

    Why should the people of the United States trust any government to be “forthright” with them? Is this another example of the triumph of hope over experience?

    Why should the people of Iran trust the government of the US to consider, in any way, their well-being? When a bully moves in next door, any nut-case in America has the god-given right (“right”) to arm himself to the hilt. Why doesn’t Iran?

    …or, indeed, why we should expect a nuclear Iran to treat Americans any differently than the way they treat their own dissidents.

    Where can I find a list of all those detained under PATRIOT? Where can I get hold of transcripts of their speedy trials?

    Where can I get a list of all those convicted American dope-smokers who have been raped in American prisons in the past few years? Where can I get hold of the transcripts of their rapists’ speedy trials?

  16. reminds me of the simpsons episode where bart joins that patriotic boy band and they sing the hypnotic song that spells out “join the navy” when rewound backwards…

  17. Love those nuclear ditties. BTW: if you’re into that particular genre, the folks at conelrad.com have just released a box set of Cold War novelty tunes (Disclaimer: I don’t work for them and this is not a commercial).

  18. “those 7 candidates represented a far more diverse range of political leanings than the two in the US”

    I don’t know whether that is true or not, but lord knows it wouldn’t take much. Of course, Zarif wasn’t counting Ralph Nader, who…never mind.

  19. Sound files of these tunes posted anyplace?

  20. Dang I thought this was about Harold Pinter’s poetry!

  21. Raymond,

    I agree with most of your points–and I have some pointed questions I’d like to put to the Bush Administration too.

    Why should the people of the United States trust any government to be “forthright” with them? Is this another example of the triumph of hope over experience?

    Matt conveyed that Iran’s UN ambassador suggested that our standoff with Iran over their nuclear program is a product of our “misperceptions”.

    I would put to the ambassador that my perception is that the government of Iran imprisons, tortures and murders its own people for saying things about their government that I and a lot of other Americans might say on any given day. I would put to the ambassador that my perception is that except for the fear of massive retaliation, there’s little reason for Americans to expect the current regime–once it has nuclear weapons–to treat us better than they treat their own people.

    …Is that a “misperception” on my part?

    Where can I find a list of all those detained under PATRIOT? Where can I get hold of transcripts of their speedy trials?

    That’s a disgrace, isn’t it? …and I’d like to hear the ambassador of a police state make that point, wouldn’t you?

    Where can I get a list of all those convicted American dope-smokers who have been raped in American prisons in the past few years? Where can I get hold of the transcripts of their rapists’ speedy trials?

    Although I understand prison rapes are commonplace, and I understand that they’re so commonplace they could almost be thought of as policy, I still don’t think of prison rape as policy. When a judge sentences someone to prison, it may seem as though he’s sentencing someone to be a rape victim, but that’s not official policy.

    …For one thing, it’s not the government that’s doin’ the rapin’. …and I think that’s a difference.

    In Iran, government thugs imprison people for speaking out, they torture them and they sometimes murder them. …which is different.

    There’s plenty to criticize the American government for–I do it all the time. That doesn’t mean I can’t criticize the government of Iran. …and our fear of a nuclear Iran is more than just a function of our “misperceptions”, don’t you agree?

  22. Mmmm, power pop. I love power pop. Fountains of Wayne rules. A good new album from Matthew Sweet is long overdue. And A.C. Newman is the easily the best rock songwriter of the moment.

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