January 28, 2010

"You're looking like a fool" is not the same "message" as "What kind of message is that sending?"

Did Larry "Pants on the Ground" Platt rip off "Pockets on the Floor" by The Green Brothers? (Videos of the songs at the link.)

Certainly, the artists are working the same theme of the proximity of inappropriate pants to the plane upon which the pants-wearer is standing. But I find The Green Brothers' complaint — "The General's song have the same intent, idea and in part the same message" — unpersuasive, though I appreciate the subtlety of "in part."

Surely, the part of the message that is the simple disapproval of giant, saggy pants is the same, but other than that, Platt heads straight for mockery aimed at the pride of the individual. The Green Brothers are imploring young men to become upstanding members of the community, with pants-improvement being merely the beginning or the symbol of an extensive self-betterment project that ought to be undertaken not for the psychological boon to the individual but for the benefit of society.

Platt is an excitable old guy squealing with comic outrage: "You're looking like a fool with your pants on the ground." The Green Brothers, by contrast, sound more like community leaders the public school brought in to lecture to the kids in a musical style the authorities think might reach them about the importance of taking responsibility in all aspects of life to send a message to others about how to be a good role model in the community. The Green Brothers mean well and have come to help, while Larry Platt is mad and venting.

In short, Platt wins in the battle of the pants songs. (And I'm not talking about copyright law. You can't copyright ideas, and even if you could, how could anyone claim to have originated the idea of disapproving of oversized pants?) Platt is more entertaining because he's all about expressing himself, whereas The Green Brothers are earnestly trying to tell other people what to do. And Platt's concern is the dignity of the individual, whereas The Green Brothers want the individual to assume the proper role for the good of the whole.

If this were politics — and it kind of is — we'd characterize Platt as right-wing and The Green Brothers as left-wing. The Green Brothers are kind of Obama, while Platt is McCain.


Pogo said...

"Pants on the Ground":"Pockets on the Floor" :: "You Lie!":"Not true."

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Actually, Jimmy Fallon ("Neal Young") beats them all!

Pogo said...

I am not terribly musical, certainly, but apart from the reference to droopy drawers, is there any similarity at all between those two songs?

peter hoh said...

The McCain of McCain-Feingold?

It's McCain's signature piece of legislation, and it's all about telling people what they can and can't do, for the good of the whole.

Lem said...

I've read that the droopy pants urban fashion has aided the police when chasing suspects.

peter hoh said...

Another aspect of the gangsta culture that's helpful to the police: the John Woo side grip.

J Lee said...

The hook of the rap itself borrows its cadence from the opening of Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes", so maybe Col. Parker's estate will end up demanding some sort of cut of the action.