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21 September 2007 @ 12:41 pm
A Brave New Different World  
There's a fellow named Bucky Covington that you probably haven't heard of, unless you listen to country music radio. He placed eighth in one season of American Idol, and sings a nostalgia song called "A Different World". I'm writing about the latter. I hope you find it enlightening and/or amusing... :-)

It's all about how things weren't so bad way back when. Starting with the first line, here's how it goes:

We were born to mothers who smoked and drank

Yes. Yes, they were, and the infant mortality rate at the time says it wasn't a great idea.

Our cribs were covered in lead based paint

Mr Covington was actually named William Joel Covington III. And despite looking sixteen in most of his pictures, he's actually my age, so close as to make no difference -- he was born in 1977. So the chances of his crib being covered in lead-based paint seem pretty low to me, but hey, let's give him this one on principle.

No child proof lids, no seat belts in cars

No seat belts in cars? Those have been basically standard since the fifties... They were certainly standard in any semi-modern car by the time I was three or so. But I guess we're supposed to ignore Bucky's age? That'd also make the "no childproof lids" claim a little more reasonable.

Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are, still here we are

Well, sorta. Again, the infant mortality rate says that only some of 'em are here... Then again, "rode bikes with no helmets" suggests it's not infants any more, so the overall death rate is probably more accurate. And there, he's got a point. So okay, bike helmets apparently don't help hugely with people surviving. And what's a little brain damage between friends?

But it looks like "still here we are" means, "well, everybody survived who mattered, right?" Looks a little different when you phrase it that way, doesn't it?

We got daddy’s belt when we misbehaved

I'll give him this one. Mostly because I'm not sure how you'd get statistics on why this isn't the best idea.

Had three TV channels you got up to change

Again, he's my age. I call foul. I mean, it was about this bad in my house, but we specifically let the TV antenna stay broken for over a decade. And we were in rural, middle-of-nowhere East Texas.

No video games and no satellite

Oddly enough, it looks like playing video games has some definite upsides for society, but the ones I'm thinking of tend to, again, just result in a lower death rate. And apparently Bucky doesn't much care about that.

All we had were friends and they were outside, playin’ outside

Not a bad thing. Not really a change, either. Whatever the local news would have you believe, kids do still play outside.

It was a different life
When we were boys and girls
Not just a different time
It was a different world

It's amazing just how small a change it takes to make a brave new world, isn't it?

Okay. There's more, but I'm not picking it apart. What have we learned?

My vote? That ol' William Joel Covington the third, while he's got some combination of misleading opinions and outright lies, is doing the best he can. I mean, it's not accurate, but it's pretty good for a guy whose crib was covered in lead-based paint.
Davidtsgeisel on September 21st, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
Does he have a line about going trick-or-treating? Because that's certainly changed.

"Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." - /usr/games/fortune
Noahangelbob on September 21st, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
Nope, nothing about trick-or-treating. It'd fit right in, though.
The Onion Girl: abstracted thinkingtshuma on September 21st, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
He does seem like he's a half-decade or so young for some of those claims. My sister's crib was a hand-me-down, and it had paint with lead on it. My family had a tv with only three stations that came in at all worth anything, and we had to get up to change the channel until I was ten or so. I thought seat belts became mandatory in cars in the late sixties?

From wikipedia, which we all know is never wrong, "The state of Victoria, Australia led the world in making seat belt wearing compulsory for drivers and front-seat passengers in 1970."

So it's possible that in his early childhood, seatbelts were not yet compulsory in his state in the back seat, whether or not they were available for use. I remember when they became mandatory in California, and I think I was around twelve. As for videogames, well I first played Pong in a military installation in the mid to late seventies (yay for people that let me use the mainframe for such an important task), but I don't recall when they showed up in commercial markets. I'm sure they were around.

So in poor WJC III's defense, this stuff might have existed, but in his childhood they might not have been common enough for him to have. Other than that, I got nothing.
David: Old-fashioned metsgeisel on September 21st, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
There's also a difference between mandated seat belts for cars sold, and mandatory requirements to *wear* seat belts. The latter really only is a relatively recent thing.

And I actually had 7 channels that I'd have to get up to change, but I grew up in Chicago.

It does sound more like he's talking about my childhood than his, although I think he pulled the video game thing completely out of his, um, hat.
geekgirlwarsop on September 21st, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what he means by no video games, either. I'm also the same age as the singer, and I had an Atari 2600 when I was a kid. Wikipedia says it was released in 1977.
Krissyrightkindofme on September 21st, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
Soooooo funny.
Anthony: ship fartsterpsichoros on September 21st, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
Whatever the local news would have you believe, kids do still play outside.

I think that there's a small subset of over-protective parents who really are significantly restricting their kids' activities, and another set of parents who prefer to park their kids in front of the TV/video-game-console rather than actually pay attention to their kids. The first set of parents also have a tendency to make lots of noise about how unsafe everything is (particularly pestering schools and the like), and so attract a disproportionate share of media attention. They also tend to be of a similar class background to that of established reporters, and so reporters think that they're more common than they really are.

That, and the occasional stories of excesses by the first sort of parent make great stories.
(Anonymous) on September 22nd, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
Did you ever hear the term, "Don't shoot the messenger?" Bucky's a singer. He sings lots of songs, as do all singers, that may bear no resemblance to his own reality.

Noahangelbob on September 22nd, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. If I assume he's speaking for somebody who's 50+, only my criticisms about death rates, brain damage, ignoring people dying and small changes making a different world have any teeth.

Which is still the vast majority of it.

One thing about a singer putting forward bad ideas is that he's definitely doing it intentionally. He's a thoroughly voluntary messenger here, not a soldier running bad news from the general to the enlisted men.