View Poll Results: Racist?
Yea 11 8.46%
Nay 119 91.54%
Voters: 130. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 05-17-2018, 06:56 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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Is Wild Cherry - Play that Funky Music Racist?

Racist? Yes or No? What if the lyric was black boy?

either way, it's one awesome song. I love dancing to this groove.

Yeah, they were dancin' and singin' and movin' to the groovin'
And just when it hit me somebody turned around and shouted
Play that funky music white boy
Play that funky music right
Play that funky music white boy
Lay down that boogie and play that funky music till you die
Till you die... (Yeah)
oh, till you die
  #2  
Old 05-17-2018, 07:03 PM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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No.
  #3  
Old 05-17-2018, 07:05 PM
Ashtura Ashtura is offline
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No.

Is Money for Nothing homophobic?
  #4  
Old 05-17-2018, 07:06 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Racist? Yes or No? What if the lyric was black boy?
Not racist. If you want to reverse the lyrics, the song would have to be about a black band playing country/western or something.
  #5  
Old 05-17-2018, 07:23 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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No.

Although some radio stations came up with an edited version without "white boy."
  #6  
Old 05-17-2018, 07:43 PM
E-DUB E-DUB is offline
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No, but it sucks anyway.
  #7  
Old 05-17-2018, 08:26 PM
doorhinge doorhinge is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Racist? Yes or No? What if the lyric was black boy?

either way, it's one awesome song. I love dancing to this groove.

Yeah, they were dancin' and singin' and movin' to the groovin'
And just when it hit me somebody turned around and shouted
Play that funky music white boy
Play that funky music right
Play that funky music white boy
Lay down that boogie and play that funky music till you die
Till you die... (Yeah)
oh, till you die
Of course it's racist. Why else would the singer/songwriter chose to identify the funky music player by the color of their skin? Is it imperative to the story line that the singer/songwriter/shouter identify the funky music player by the color of their funky music playing skin? Why else point out the skin color of the person playing the funky music?

Is it to be assumed that white boy can't, or shouldn't, be expected to play funky music? And if not, why not? It's just music. Assuming they have funky talent, anyone should be able to play funky music.

Why did the singer/songwriter chose to identify the funky music player as white?
  #8  
Old 05-17-2018, 08:54 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Also a hate crime, wishing death on the white boy.
  #9  
Old 05-17-2018, 09:06 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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The lyrics are based on an actual thing. Wild Cherry was originally a rock band, but then with disco and funk becoming more popular, a fan at one of their concerts shouted to them, "Are you white boys going to play some funky music?", and that inspired the song?
  #10  
Old 05-18-2018, 06:32 AM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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Video: Play that funky music.

Jesus, that's cringey. It's a caricature. I'm half-surprised the lead singer isn't in blackface.
  #11  
Old 05-18-2018, 07:20 AM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
Video: Play that funky music.

Jesus, that's cringey. It's a caricature. I'm half-surprised the lead singer isn't in blackface.
No no no. The singer should be played by Will Farrell.
  #12  
Old 05-18-2018, 08:11 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is online now
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No. It's a cool song.
  #13  
Old 05-18-2018, 08:27 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
Video: Play that funky music.

Jesus, that's cringey. It's a caricature. I'm half-surprised the lead singer isn't in blackface.
Indeed. All these years, having never seen the band or the video, I've assumed that the lead singer was a black man.
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  #14  
Old 05-18-2018, 11:00 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is online now
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
No.

Although some radio stations came up with an edited version without "white boy."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
No.

Is Money for Nothing homophobic?
I'll skip past the question, but I've heard the song on the radio with the 'faggot' verse edited out.

When that happens, I find it disappointing, because Weird Al's take on the Beverly Hillbillies theme is to the tune of "Money for Nothing," and I like singing his version along with that verse:

That little Clampett's got his own cement pond,
that little Clampett is a millionaire.
  #15  
Old 05-18-2018, 11:03 AM
Just Asking Questions Just Asking Questions is online now
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I'm going against the grain and say "a bit". It's as racist as the implied putdown of the tellee in the joke "what do you call a black guy flying the plane?" The song assumes there is something "off" with white boys playing funk. On other days, do they shout "play [it] black boys?" Why not?

Do I get upset? Not a bit. How about the movie "White Men Can't Jump"? That ones bugs me a bit, but mostly because I can't jump.

Is Money For Nothing homophobic? Sort of. Just because it is a character using "faggot" as a putdown of someone who he has no way of knowing about, real person Knopfler wrote the song. He could have used a different word, or not used it three times. The character, at any rate, is clearly homophobic.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 05-18-2018 at 11:04 AM.
  #16  
Old 05-18-2018, 11:12 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post

Is Money For Nothing homophobic? Sort of. Just because it is a character using "faggot" as a putdown of someone who he has no way of knowing about, real person Knopfler wrote the song. He could have used a different word, or not used it three times. The character, at any rate, is clearly homophobic.
I always assumed the person he wrote the song about( who was real )was quoted directly.

Now does this song make anyone wince?
  #17  
Old 05-18-2018, 11:15 AM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
Of course it's racist. Why else would the singer/songwriter chose to identify the funky music player by the color of their skin? Is it imperative to the story line that the singer/songwriter/shouter identify the funky music player by the color of their funky music playing skin? Why else point out the skin color of the person playing the funky music?

Is it to be assumed that white boy can't, or shouldn't, be expected to play funky music? And if not, why not? It's just music. Assuming they have funky talent, anyone should be able to play funky music.

Why did the singer/songwriter chose to identify the funky music player as white?
Only on the Dope have I seen so many people so often confusing any mention of race with racism.

It's a terrible song, but not racist.
  #18  
Old 05-18-2018, 11:54 AM
Shakester Shakester is online now
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Indeed. All these years, having never seen the band or the video, I've assumed that the lead singer was a black man.
Which seems a bit odd to me, given that the whole chorus is about the singer being addressed as "white boy" while being requested to play that funky music.
  #19  
Old 05-18-2018, 11:54 AM
jaycat jaycat is offline
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
. . . Now does this song make anyone wince?
There is some confusement in this thread between songs that are offensive because they're racist, and songs that are offensive because they suck.
  #20  
Old 05-18-2018, 12:06 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
There is some confusement in this thread between songs that are offensive because they're racist, and songs that are offensive because they suck.
Not a Violent Femmes fan, eh ?
  #21  
Old 05-18-2018, 12:11 PM
Just Asking Questions Just Asking Questions is online now
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Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
Only on the Dope have I seen so many people so often confusing any mention of race with racism.

It's a terrible song, but not racist.
It's not a terrible song, it's ok. And it's a little bit racist.

The world doesn't live on the extremes. There's a whole middle out there.
  #22  
Old 05-18-2018, 12:15 PM
Algher Algher is offline
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It is a black band telling a white rocker to shift his play into funk. If you really want to have fun, think of this as a song celebrating cultural appropriation as he steals the funk of the Commodores, Parliament Funkadelic, Sly & the Family Stone, Earth Wind & Fire, etc.
  #23  
Old 05-18-2018, 12:16 PM
Algher Algher is offline
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Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
No.

Is Money for Nothing homophobic?
One line reflects the homophobia of its era. That line now makes me cringe, though at the time I thought it was hilarious.
  #24  
Old 05-18-2018, 12:21 PM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
It's not a terrible song, it's ok. And it's a little bit racist.

The world doesn't live on the extremes. There's a whole middle out there.
Obviously the merits of the song will vary according to personal taste.

"Terrible" is simply my opinion. I understand others may enjoy it. I can live with that.

I don't see anyway to characterize it as racist.
  #25  
Old 05-18-2018, 02:05 PM
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One line reflects the homophobia of its era. That line now makes me cringe, though at the time I thought it was hilarious.
It wasn't Mark Knopfler's point of view. It was the point of view of the narrator of the song, a real-life delivery person Knopfler had encountered in a department store who casually used the word "faggot" to describe the singer in a music video. Yes, it was a product of the times that the song got airplay with the verse in it, but Knopfler now regrets having written it.
  #26  
Old 05-18-2018, 02:36 PM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is online now
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
It's not a terrible song, it's ok. And it's a little bit racist.

The world doesn't live on the extremes. There's a whole middle out there.
Most (if not all) definitions of racism includes the notion that one race is superior to another. I think it'd be very strange to think that white people not being able to play funky music means that black people are superior to them (as opposed to being more likely able to do so because of cultural reasons). Unless you do believe that the playing of funky music is a marker of a superior being .
  #27  
Old 05-18-2018, 05:51 PM
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Most (if not all) definitions of racism includes the notion that one race is superior to another. I think it'd be very strange to think that white people not being able to play funky music means that black people are superior to them (as opposed to being more likely able to do so because of cultural reasons). Unless you do believe that the playing of funky music is a marker of a superior being .
I have a dream that children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the quality of their funk.
  #28  
Old 05-18-2018, 05:53 PM
burpo the wonder mutt burpo the wonder mutt is offline
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I have a dream that children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the quality of their funk.
Don't make me drag out "Surfin' Bird" again. Cuz I will.

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 05-18-2018 at 05:54 PM.
  #29  
Old 05-18-2018, 08:29 PM
SantaMan SantaMan is online now
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I come from another era, obviously.
My formative years / indoctrination was during this liberal/ egalitarian / cultural exchange/ disco / funk is cool era
This does not serve me well in the current era of progressive / identitarian/ cultural appropriation / "It's not disco, it's dance music"
While I had never seen the video, I would have assumed the singer was white and self deprecating, acknowledging his outsider status in the Funk scene,
"Hey, look at the me the dancing bear!"
  #30  
Old 05-18-2018, 10:03 PM
tim314 tim314 is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Racist? Yes or No? What if the lyric was black boy?
Calling a black man "boy" would obviously not be equivalent to calling a white man "boy", because history.

Same answer as basically every other "why is X more offensive than Y" thread.
  #31  
Old 05-18-2018, 10:45 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Yes, it was a product of the times that the song got airplay with the verse in it, but Knopfler now regrets having written it.
The line "See the little faggot with the earring and the make up" is followed by the lines "Yeah buddy that's his own hair/That little faggot got his own jet airplane/That little faggot he's a millionaire"...it's a bit hard to say if those bits are more grousing, or a sarcastic retort. (i.e. "That 'little faggot' is a millionaire.")

Those little quotation marks alone can really buy your way out of the doghouse, in a pinch. John Lennon probably shoulda done it for a certain single of his.
  #32  
Old 05-19-2018, 01:28 AM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
Video: Play that funky music.

Jesus, that's cringey. It's a caricature. I'm half-surprised the lead singer isn't in blackface.
Seriously? So what do you think of the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

White Cherry is a local band, and I've always known they were white. (Donnie Iris is a member, but he joined up after they released this song)
  #33  
Old 05-19-2018, 04:51 AM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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Seriously? So what do you think of the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

White Cherry is a local band, and I've always known they were white. (Donnie Iris is a member, but he joined up after they released this song)
Did you watch the video? It's mimicry. There is nothing natural about that vocal. I don't think it's racist, but it was painful to watch. I couldn't get past halfway.

RHCP? Sort of middle-of-the road and boring. Sure they dip into different genres but the lead singer sounds natural enough. It's not the style of the music that's weird with Wild Cherry...it's the unnatural, burlesque quality of the vocal.

Play That Funky Music is on a list with Ice, Ice Baby. The Cringey Top 40.
  #34  
Old 05-19-2018, 05:29 AM
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I think it depends on how old you are. The song was *always* seen as being a bit Will Ferrell silly - white guy in the middle of a silly situation and kinda going for it - so the real question is how it is viewed. I was in high school when it came out so I've seen the song age over the years. Most folks my age, black, white, whatever, think of it as a fun old song, like Kung Fu Fighting, Superfreak, and Shaft (Who's the Black private dick who's making time with all the chicks? Shaft!! Dick, shaft, black guy - nothing to see about stereotypes there!), and so, so many others.

It is a fun, good, danceable song that old farts like me enjoy. It won't endure much past us, because later generations see it as an artifact of the days when their grandparents didn't get it. I see that view of this song more as collateral damage vs. something needing a direct hit due to impropriety. But I won't lose sleep when it fades, because I know that other completely inappropriate songs like Superfreak will endure, because they are simply too badass to put down, and that most women agree with me and will lead the charge to the dancefloor when Superfreak comes on. The world is still safe.

My $.02
  #35  
Old 05-19-2018, 07:42 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Man, the 70s produced some awesome novelty and one hit wonders.

Simply awesome.
  #36  
Old 05-19-2018, 11:25 AM
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I was a white boy when it first came out and I didn't find it offensive.
  #37  
Old 05-19-2018, 12:47 PM
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I find this thread interesting, as there seems to be two different angles of how it could be "racist." One is the simple racial tone of the phrase "play that funky music, white boy!" (which is sung by a white singer, so I don't see how it could be racist, anyway) and the other is that it is mimicking and almost cariacaturizing black funk in a way that can be seen as racist and offensive (also something I don't agree with.) I'd be curious to see what the breakdown of the 7 "yes it's racist" votes so far would be.

But, no, it's not racist either way, in my opinion.
  #38  
Old 05-19-2018, 01:52 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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The assumption a white guy might struggle with playing soul or funk is mildly racist. Imho

I don't recall it being an issue back then. People are more aware of subtle racism these days.

I've always liked the song. It's unusual and quirky. Good fun.
  #39  
Old 05-19-2018, 06:50 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
Did you watch the video? It's mimicry. There is nothing natural about that vocal. I don't think it's racist, but it was painful to watch. I couldn't get past halfway.

RHCP? Sort of middle-of-the road and boring. Sure they dip into different genres but the lead singer sounds natural enough. It's not the style of the music that's weird with Wild Cherry...it's the unnatural, burlesque quality of the vocal.

Play That Funky Music is on a list with Ice, Ice Baby. The Cringey Top 40.
Funny you should mention that.... (Now THIS is cringey)

Seriously though, I see a bunch of dudes getting really into the music. I think some people here are just looking for something that isn't there.
  #40  
Old 05-19-2018, 07:29 PM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is online now
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RHCP? Sort of middle-of-the road and boring.
Yeppers. Also an acronym that looks too much like RHPS, for those of us who remember doing the Time Warp.

My defining memory of the Chili Peppers is when they were the closing act at one of the last WHFStivals, back in the spring of 2000, IIRC. Since they were the closing act, their contract must've included an encore. They were sufficiently uninspiring that people were leaving the stadium in droves as soon as they finished playing their mini-set, and there was a total absence of the usual audience noises to demand an encore. But they came out and played one anyway as the stadium emptied. It didn't noticeably slow down the movement to the exits.
  #41  
Old 05-19-2018, 07:35 PM
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As someone who was a teenager when this song was popular, I have to say that people weren't as touchy about this kind of stuff back then. We just had a good time with it, took it as being self-deprecating (and even as 13 year old I got that), and kept on keeping on. Nobody cared. It wasn't considered some indictment against white men, and I don't recall anyone, white or black, taking issue with this song. If anything we just laughed about it, but we were kids and the 70s were mostly all yellow smilely faces and "Have a Nice Day" for us.

I voted No.

Music back then wasn't all a political statement. There was a dude in Parliament Funkadelic that wore a diaper for crying out loud. Talk about not taking yourself seriously!

Now I am not trying to say it was all sunshine and rainbows all the time, because as a one of a handful of white kids in a mostly black public school with mostly young black afrocentric teachers, I could tell you some stories of being bullied by black kids (especially black girls) that most of you wouldn't believe. But it didn't have much at all to do with the music we listened to. If anything the music actually helped us get along. What I learned in my grade school years is that whoever is in the majority tends to treat whoever is in the minority badly, even if said minority is merely a microcosm of the greater world. I know, I lived it.
  #42  
Old 05-19-2018, 08:16 PM
Face Intentionally Left Blank Face Intentionally Left Blank is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The assumption a white guy might struggle with playing soul or funk is mildly racist. Imho

I don't recall it being an issue back then. People are more aware of subtle racism these days.

I've always liked the song. It's unusual and quirky. Good fun.
I'm from Pittsburgh, and they're more or less a local band, as stated above. I'm incapable of viewing it objectively. It's a fun song, and the vocalist has a fairly unique sound that I like. The song has kind of an infections groove, like many of the better songs of the era.

I don't care what ANYONE says, that 1976 Midnight Special performance was kick-ass. The great LIVE vocals and instrumental performance, the choreographed 2-man horn section, everything about it was top-notch. Yeah, the whole thing REEKS of the 70's, but not EVERYTHING about that era was bad.

I had a work friend back in 2004 that was uncomfortable with Foreigner's "Dirty White Boy", but was OK with "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta."
  #43  
Old 05-19-2018, 08:35 PM
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Indeed. All these years, having never seen the band or the video, I've assumed that the lead singer was a black man.
Then I guess you didn't pay attention to the lyrics? The song is about a rock and roll singer who goes and listens to a funk band, and then the audience turns around and tells him to "play that funky music, white boy." So clearly the speaker is white.

And, yes, I watched the video, and heard him sing. He's singing in the style to fit the music, including the accent. So what?

I do agree that assuming a white person can't play funk would be racist, but I don't really hear that in the song. They turn around and tell the white guy that he should play funky music--which implies they think he can. The singer is the one reluctant to do so, thinking they're crazy. But he comes around, and while it's hard changing his tune at first, he eventually not only does it, but convinces other rockers to come along.

I mean, he's so funky that people apparently miss the lyrics and assume the singer must be black. He can clearly do it.

So my vote is No to it being racist.
  #44  
Old 05-19-2018, 09:22 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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No, and I'm with WordMan: It'll be a matter of awkwardness for our grandchildren. Well, let them feel awkward, we'll lay down the boogie at the nursing facility.
  #45  
Old Yesterday, 01:03 AM
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A friend of a friend of mine interviewed Rob Parissi twice and wrote articles for his webpage about the contents of the interview. The writer has interviewed quite a few semi-famous and formerly famous music personalities over the years, but the Parissi interviews are some of my favorites (informative, realistic view of himself, and genuinely funny). Here are links to the interviews, hearing what he has to say about the song it is hard to imagine there was ever any racist intent:

http://boomerocity.com/rob-parissi-2009.html

http://boomerocity.com/rob-parissi-2011.html

Seems like he says something along the lines of: you might call the song somewhat autobiographical; I am white, I am a boy, I play in a band that plays funk music…. seems self explanatory to me. At least it isn’t about leaving a cake out in the rain; that is some psycho stuff there.


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Originally Posted by Guinastasia View Post
Funny you should mention that.... (Now THIS is cringey)

Seriously though, I see a bunch of dudes getting really into the music. I think some people here are just looking for something that isn't there.
Concerning Vanilla Ice and his use of the song, Parissi was very open about his appreciation for Van Winkle’s extending the longevity of the song and his scrupulous payment of royalties. Also all the movies and TV shows that use it and keep it going. When I mentioned to him I heard a snippet of the song at a Diamondbacks home game he replied: “If they played more than a few bars you guys owe me nine cents—when you send it to me, would you please wrap it in a sponge or something so the IRS can’t identify it and I won’t have to declare it on my taxes.” When I told him the Brewers won the game and he should collect from them he replied: “Forget that! In 197? I played a show in Milwaukee with two other bands (I have forgotten which bands—but they were big time touring bands with several hits). Three bands and a 5,000 seat venue, any one of us should have filled the seats but they keep asking for advertising investment. So we go with heavy radio spots on all the stations for weeks in advance. Then we show up and there are less than 300 people there. The hall was so empty we had to tweak the sound system to keep from having an echo.”
  #46  
Old Yesterday, 05:11 AM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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All this thread has accomplished is making me play that fucking song in my head all day long. Movin' to the goddamn groovin'.
  #47  
Old Yesterday, 05:38 AM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 22,429
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
All this thread has accomplished is making me play that fucking song in my head all day long. Movin' to the goddamn groovin'.
If it helps, the riff overlays with Stevie Wonder’s Superstition pretty well. Put that song on and swap earworms if you’d prefer it.

My Rx,
Dr. Feelgood

And again, this song isn’t racist, just fun.

If you want to discuss inappropriate 1970’s music, go back to Foreigner as mentioned above. Such Man-Stupid lyrics. On the album Head Games alone there’s:

- Dirty White Boy - Oy
- I’ll Get Even With You - stalker revenge bitterness
- Women - a tone-deaf skeevy objectification if there ever was one
- Seventeen - what a creepy perv stalker song. Dude singing to teen he groomed who’s moving past him and he’s telling her she owes him. I loved this song as a rockin’ tune back in the day. Now it makes me shudder.
- Head Games, Love on The Telephone - less specifically misogynistic than just bitter about the need to play head games. Silly high school drama.

I still love a few of their songs, but I don’t walk past them like I do for Play That Funky Music. Mick Jones, the guitarist and mastermind behind Foreigner, was a pig.
  #48  
Old Yesterday, 10:46 AM
golffan1963 golffan1963 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranchoth View Post
John Lennon probably shoulda done it for a certain single of his.
To which song are you referring?
  #49  
Old Yesterday, 12:21 PM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: MD outside DC
Posts: 4,642
Quote:
Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
Only on the Dope have I seen so many people so often confusing any mention of race with racism.
Your being wooshed. This is just another case of doorhinge's tired old schtick of pretending to be a strawman liberal. Best to just ignore it.

But I agree, not racist. It's self deprecating humor. You might as well ask whether Weird Al's "White and nerdy" is racist.

Last edited by Buck Godot; Yesterday at 12:24 PM.
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