Tin Pan Alley
Lesson 01: The Milestones of History
to an opportunity to challenge our most basic assumptions about what we
"know" to be true . . . . through an irreverent exploration of the "who, what,
where, when, and why" related to Popular Music in American Culture.
Although its ways and means will be subtle, a large measure of our
adventure will be devoted to cultural misconceptions, and to how our
prejudices (some bad, but some necessary for survival) are formed and
perpetuated.Some things – although perhaps relatively few – we DO learn
from personal experience: stovetops really can be hot, barking dogs really
do bite, red-headed girls named Donna really are psycho, and your
parents were right . . . . about everything.Most of our beliefs, however,
were fed to us by small groups of individuals, by this or that religious group
(with a specific agenda), by the advertising industry (with no agenda
beyond profiting off of the agendas of other groups), by the entertainment
industry, by the Democratic Party (same thing), etc. – leading us, often in
subtle ways, to think "this way" or "that way."We'll also discuss how
governments and religious sects have used music and art – particularly
cartoons, with such creatures as Popeye the Sailor and Daffy Duck – to
convince little children that it's perfectly acceptable to kill Krauts, Japs,
gooks, pencil-necked geeks, towel-heads, camel-jockeys, Muslims, Jews,
and both Native Americans and American Infidels . . . . at the "politically
correct" = "politically expedient" moment in history.On the B side, we'll talk
about how our society has become so obsessed with political correctness
that we now cater to the dumbest of the dumb, and how each new day
demands yet another apology from a politician or the firing of a teacher for
saying something that is fundamentally true (because every prejudice
begins with a degree of truth) . . . . because it "hurt someone's feelings."
Throughout this course, we will continually ask "why?"
Why, for example, do some people like Country music and some people
like show tunes . . . . and why do we assume that the former are rednecks
and the latter are a "little light in the loafers"?