05 September 2011

"Animal Farm": The Musical

After dealing with a naked asshole--and his pictures of it--yes, I took a break. And discovered a new ad campaign that has the makings of either sheer chutzpah, satanic cynicism or loopy insanity.

The campaign features the legendary salsa group El Gran Combo (50+ years of international stardom), singing one of their many hits, but with the lyrics rewritten. The original version sings about living "the great life", doing nothing and having fun. The title of the song is "No hago más ná'"--I don't do anything else. The new lyrics now sing about working hard and "moving forward, never backward."

The campaign, backed by notorious economic sumphole Banco Popular, asks viewers to call in and request the song so as to make it...popular. They actually imply in the ad that a song--and by extension, that their reworked song--can change a society

I sh--kid you not.

Take a stroll through The Jenius' posts, or a daily local puppy-trainer rag We call newspaper and you'll quickly come to the conclusion that We are neck-deep in problems. Serious problems. Problems that go way back to before "No hago más ná'" captured Our fondest wish and made it danceable. We are so deep into these problems that a whole host of vermin have come up to feed on them, to literally stake their lives on them, to entrench themselves in the sewage and thrive on it, while deep in their miniscule brains they fear being exposed to light, to having their feces-filled wallow drained so that others--more worthy and virtuous--can thrive better.

And Banco Popular is a massive slug in that vermin horde. (Paid back the TARP money, BP? Made the minimum percentage of loans to local clients, BP? Stopped using The Larva's wife's law firm as your principal mortgage legal advisors, BP? Got your stock back up over a dollar a share, penny-stupid and dollar-useless BP?)

Now here's the thing: this campaign is nothing new. And all it does is lend credence to a conclusion I stated in 2001 in My columns at PuertoRican.com com, and revisited in 2005 here in The Jenius. And because it applies so well, here it is again, the "Glee-ified" version of Our "Animal Farm":

Puerto Rican.com 008 – Week of 10 December 2001

Animal Farm
By Gil C. Schmidt

When I was a youngster, I overheard a man’s brief rant about “those in power” and how they had a “conspiracy” to keep Puerto Ricans ignorant, and thus, controllable. He pointed out how the educational system (this was in the late 1970s) was a mess, how the newspapers were written “for morons” and how politicians and others, “those in power”, kept manipulating “everything” to retain their grasp on the populace.

At the time, I thought he was crazy. A conspiracy? To keep people, as he said, “stupid”? A deliberate effort to not educate people? What was wrong with this guy? Hell, nobody seemed to be paying attention to him… Seemed to. For a little, insistent voice in my head was saying he might be right…and no one there was even trying to contradict him.

This was a small incident, but over the years, I’ve recalled it several times and mentioned it once before. The whole incident came roaring back when I saw the latest TV ad campaign and the title “Animal Farm” flashed into my head as the commercial ended.

The government (under Sila "Quitter" Calderón) has created a series of ads featuring business leaders encouraging effort, and now another series with “commoners”. (I only saw one, but I imagine there are at least one or two more) Their catch-line now is: “Adelante con Fuerza, Puerto Rico”. (Roughly: “Onward with Force/Strength/Energy, Puerto Rico.”) Supposedly common citizens urging their fellow citizens to make a greater effort. And all I could think of was the Horse, in “Animal Farm”.

George Orwell’s often heavy-handed fable of animals taking over a farm and creating a progressively-debased “utopia” is great reading. In it, the Horse is by far the strongest animal, capable of doing almost all of the necessary heavy work. But, his muscle is not matched by his brain. As things are going to pot on the Farm, his only comment and response is “I must work harder. I must work harder!” And so he does, with simple-minded, but poignantly noble strength. And while his muscles struggle, the Farm leaders--the Pigs--wallow in excess and create more chaos.

Oh, the parallels.

The reason I could never forget that man’s rant so long ago was the niggling feeling that maybe, maybe he was right. The points he made are still valid: The educational system is a mess, the media often does treat its audience as morons and what we see every week from our “leaders” has the acidly-sour taste of rampant manipulation in it.

• “Give them to me as children and I shall own them forever,” are words ascribed to Adolph Hitler.
• “The strongest protection of liberty is an educated people,” is ascribed to Thomas Jefferson.
• “Let him work harder!” is the Pigs’ implied response to the news that the Horse is struggling and dying.

And now, “Adelante con Fuerza, Puerto Rico”: Am I the only one who hears the subtext: “Work harder! It’s your fault! We have other—better!—things to do!” and the drunkenly-delighted cackle-grunts of the Pigs?


I can't wait for the remix version of this musical, the Banco Popular production of "Ignore the screwing, just keep dancing! ¡Salsa de la buena!"

On second thought: Yes. I can.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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