November 8, 2004

When do we want it?

On Saturday, I encountered a peace rally. (Here is my photo-essay.) The usual "What do we want? PEACE! When do we want it? NOW!" routine was heard. An emailer sends this:
Right before the election, there was a protest march around City Hall, which is kitty-corner from my office. It had a similar call-and-response, though it was not an antiwar march.

For some reason, the absurdity of it struck me in a way it had not before.

You will never hear protesters chanting:

"What do we want?" ___________!

"When do we want it?" LATER!


"What do we want?" ___________!

"When do we want it?" NO RUSH! WHENEVER'S GOOD FOR YOU!

At that peace rally Saturday, I could see yelling "Peace!" to the first question, but then for question two, the answer would have to be something that isn't a one-syllable, shoutable word. When do we want it? When the insurgency is defeated and Iraq has been transformed into a stable democracy!

Whenever I hear the "NOW!" response to that chant, I always think of the old Jim Morrison lyric: "We want the world and we want it .... NOW!" Well, that seemed quite exciting and cool when I was a teenager. But imagine if the world had been handed over to Morrison and the kids who shouted "NOW!" back at him when he sang. At the time it seemed to us Baby Boomers that the over-30s -- none of whom could ever be trusted, according to the saying of the time -- had ruined the whole world for us. Now the Boomers are those old folk and they are failing to make the world perfect, to the dismay of the new generation. But there's nothing about the babyish yell "NOW!" that is going to hasten the emergence of a perfect world.

UPDATE: An emailer lets me know -- re the quoted email -- "The Simpsons" already did it:
Carl: What do we want?
All: More equitable treatment at the hands of management!
Carl: When do we want it?
All: Soon!

Actually, they seem to have done it a lot:
Activist: "What do we want!?"
Crowd: "The gradual phase-out of animal testing over the next three years?"
Activist: "When do we want it!?"
Crowd: "Over the next three years!"

And as to the observation that "The Simpsons" already did everything, so we might as well give up on efforts at saying anything funny: "South Park" already did it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You know, the quality of the email I get from readers of this blog constantly amazes me. I just got this:
An even earlier rendition: The Adventures of Buckaro Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension:

Lizardo: Where are we going?

Lectroids: Planet Ten!

Lizardo: When?

Lectroids: Real soon!

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