Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, After anti-Thatcher protesters propel the Wizard Of Oz song, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, into the charts, Neil McCormick on why the BBC shouldn't play it in Sunday's official rundown.
It could be the most inappropriate and gratuitously offensive number one hit single ever. Propelled by a mischievous Facebook campaign, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead is currently on course to reach number four in the UK singles mid-week sales charts, and only needs a few thousand or so downloads to reach the top.
The 1939 Wizard Of Oz nursery rhyme song has become a kind of anti-Thatcher internet meme, cocking a snook at the sombre tone of official response to the death of the former Prime Minister. Like a rude heckle intruding on a solemn memorial, it is a bracing reminder that Baroness Thatcher remains a fiercely divisive political figure. It is a reminder too, that pop can still have a disorderly spirit, not easily constrained by polite rules of socially acceptable behaviour.
But if Ding Dong should reach number one in the hit parade, should the BBC play it in their official chart rundown? I have been asked this question on two BBC radio shows already, so it is obviously a topic on the corporation’s mind. One senses lingering embarrassment about the corporation’s refusal to play The Sex Pistols God Save The Queen during the 1977 Silver Jubilee, affirming an image of the BBC as fuddy duddy protectors of establishment values. If people show their support of a particular song’s message by purchasing the recording, is it right for their voices to be silenced by someone else’s idea of good taste? There is clearly a feeling brewing that the BBC are between a rock song and a hard place, damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Play the song (innocently inoffensive in any other context), and many people (surely greatly outnumbering those who few thousand who have bought it) will be offended by its insulting tone and message, particularly in a period when it is traditional to show respect to the recently deceased. Refuse to play it, and there will be an outcry about censorship and freedom of speech, with the implication that the BBC is taking political sides and denying legitimate protest. One can almost feel pity for the new Director General. In his second week in office, I bet he never thought he’d be wrestling with the implications of banning Judy Garland.
My own feeling is the BBC should not play the song. I don’t think it is genuinely comparable to their Sex Pistols moment. God Save The Queen was a proper protest song, a righteously indignant attack on a living authority figure, spearheading a musical movement which partly defined itself by a creative rejection of a certain kind of nationalist pride. Not to play it was a craven and obsequious surrender to establishment values, denying a voice to young musicians and music fans on a radio station (BBC Radio One) that was supposedly their own platform. It was an attempt to silence debate. Indeed, it was widely rumoured (with no supporting evidence) that the BBC tampered with the charts, so that the Pistols protest stalled at number 2, and Rod Stewart was allowed to soundtrack the Queen’s celebrations with the appropriately titled I Don’t Want To Talk About It.
Thatcher, in her pomp, inspired a lot of protest songs. The Beat had a jolly romp of a hit in 1980 with Stand Down Margaret. The reliably controversial Morrissey recorded Margaret On The Guillotine for his first solo album, Viva Hate, in 1988 (and has recently released a statement indicating his antipathy towards the late prime minister remains undimmed). Elvis Costello’s 1989 album Spike contained the excoriatingly angry Tramp The Dirt Down, in which the former punk expressed the desire to live long enough to one day stand on Thatcher’s grave. Yet Costello has been conspicuously, and probably wisely, silent this week. Those songs were written in the heat of political battle as legitimate expressions of anger. I don’t know if Margaret Thatcher ever heard them, but I am sure she would have understood them if she did, and would more than likely have taken a kind of delight in stirring up that degree of rancour in those she would have conceived as politically misguided. Like scabrous newspaper cartoons and savage stand-up comedy routines, they were the everyday currency of political debate at a particular moment in time. They were protest songs in a way that Ding Dong is not. It was not written for the occasion. It is not inspired by any great passion. It is just a cat call after the battle is over, a yar boo sucks to you too, a childish insult drifting in the wind after the soldiers have long since left the field.
Via telegraph Tolong Share ya ^^