The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


Trust Me, I’m Going Somewhere With This
November 16, 2008, 6:02 am
Filed under: Media | Tags: ,

When I was in junior high school (which would have been roughly between 1979 and 1981, but I don’t actually remember which year it was within those), some of my classmates got religion all at the same time and affirmed their new faith by burning all their Led Zeppelin, Queen and Styx albums because if you played them backwards, they were telling you to worship Satan! I guess they went to see the same traveling preacher at some weird church in town and, um, were moved. It creeped me out how it all happened simultaneously.

I remember kids that were stoners on Friday and by Monday they were all looking like they scrubbed themselves with SOS pads and dressed neater than usual and telling me that rock music was evil and I was going to hell and I needed to burn all my record albums too (of course, some of these kids laughed at my musical tastes at the time). I’m not saying my junior high school became like the Village of the Damned or anything with a bunch of pretty blond boys and girls running around with weird eyes, but there were a good 3 or 4 classmates that bought into it, and everybody noticed it, including teachers.

But let’s examine this whole playing albums backwards thing. You made what is presumably a lifetime commitment to something (or more like, you’re now committed to making a pest out of yourself to people who have religious beliefs that are different from yours and really don’t want to hear your sales pitch for freaky-deaky fundie black helicopter end-times paranoia) but you did it on the basis of hearing what you think or were led to believe were satanic messages on record albums when they were played for you *backwards.* The way they weren’t intended to be listened to.

By that logic should we play commercials backwards? Newscasts? Campaign speeches? I bet that would have been real interesting in this most recent election cycle, and there’s plenty of room for each side to spin what the other is saying to suit what they’re selling. And we think the only thing we would have learned from that is that Sarah Palin has an annoying whiny voice whether you listen to her talk forwards or backwards.

OTOH, could this have been used to convince the “Obama is a Muslim in cahoots with terrorists” crowd otherwise if we played his speeches backwards? Let’s face it, the “OIAMICWT” crowd won’t take Obama’s own word for it no matter how much that myth has been debunked over and over and over again. Or, would playing John McCain’s speeches backwards have convinced people he wasn’t really a Bush-bot? Hard to say, it would have depended on who was doing the spinning.

That’s all academic now — Barack Obama will take office on January 20 thanks to rational Americans (including myself) who were fed up with the other side, Oklahoma’s 7 electoral votes be damned.

Almost 30 years later this still kind of blows my mind. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to make a major change in your life, whether it’s adopting a religious faith or a new diet or whatever. But if the reasons are grounded in reality and the result of something that would normally happen, then good for you. For example, I had a health issue a couple of years ago that forced me to cut certain things out of my diet (nuts, beans, corn, seeds). It’s hard to deal with but I have to deal with it so I had to make the change if I don’t want to, basically, have my intestine explode one day and kill me or something (I admit a weakness for Reese’s peanut butter cups. Smooth peanut butter — or the stuff they put in Reese’s peanut butter cups — I was told was OK. I guess it’s OK, I’m not dead yet. But the crunchy stuff? No way). But in the case of my diet there were real, SERIOUS reasons behind making a major life change. Changing your life based on playing music albums backwards … ummmm, not the same thing!

I wonder what happened to those kids. I wound up in high school with some of them and haven’t seen any of them in at least 23 or 24 years.

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