April 14, 2008

Cookie Jar

Ok, time for another bit of lyric analysis, this time on something down but nowhere near as dark. It's not like the song is particularly opaque either. "Cookie Jar", by Jack Johnson, off the album On and On.

And I would turn on the TV, but it's so embarrassing,
To see all the other people, I don't know what they mean.
And it was magic at first when they spoke without sound,
But now this world is gonna hurt.
You'd better turn that thing down.
Turn it around.
This part, I don't quite get. I realize he's setting a point up for a repeat (these lines end the song as well), namely that if you're fed up with the way the world is, turn off the TV and do something about it. If someone has some more insight into the other part of this, please enlighten me.
"Well, it wasn't me," says the boy with the gun,
"Sure I pulled the trigger, but it needed to be done,
Because life's been killing me ever since it begun.
You can't blame me, 'cuz I’m too young."
If you didn't get it from just reading that, we're investigating a murder. Like in many investigations, the blame is gonna be passed around (or attempted to be passed around). In this case, we start with someone we know committed the crime, but claims he's too young. It's even a semi-valid defense in this country: for all crimes, there's a difference in punishment for minors unless explicitly tried as an adult.
"You can't blame me; sure the killer was my son,
But I didn't teach him to pull the trigger of the gun.
It's the killing on this TV screen.
You can't blame me; it's those images he's seen."
Now we go to the parents. This is probably the PoV for which I have the least sympathy. They try to pass the blame off to TV, Movies, Video Games, Music, etc. Those may have help your son on the path, but only because you probably weren't there with him. First, pay attention to what your kid's exposed to. There are ratings now on TV, Movies, and Games, and Parental Advisory stickers/labels on Music. Second, watch/play/listen to what you've bought your child with them. That way, you can answer questions and, if necessary, remind them if what they've seen is acceptable behavior.
"Well, you can't blame me," says the media man,
"Well I wasn't the one who came up with the plan.
And I just point my camera what the people want to see.
Man, it's a two-way mirror and you can't blame me."
Now we get a look at the man behind the media, but not the source of the media, that's up next. He's kind of got a point, but it all boils down to the way most media corporations - hell, most corporations, period - are run. They want to make a constantly increasing profit, and do that they only produce what they think, and have focus-group tested to prove, people will watch. They don't normally think of the way their content might effect the intended and unintended audiences.
"You can't blame me," says the singer of the song
Or the maker of the movie which he bases life on.
"It's only entertainment and as anyone can see,
Its smoke machines and make up man, you can't fool me."
Here we have the source of the media, directed by the media man above to create what the parents blame for the murder. They don't see anything wrong with what they're doing because they know all too well that what they do isn't real.
It was you, it was me, it was every man.
We've all got the blood on our hands.
We only receive what we demand,
And if we want hell, then hell's what we'll have.
The only reasonable response from all of this: we're all to blame in some, probably minor way. Do your viewing habits prompt the creation of violent media? Do you let your children watch that media without supervision, that you know of? Did you bully other kids? Did you let bullies go unopposed? “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.

Then we go back to the beginning, which kind of makes sense given the admonition there to go out and change things for the better yourself. It also makes sense in relation to the source of the song's title. Fake internet points to the first person who knows it.