Thursday, May 15, 2014

Television: I’m the Slime

Frank Zappa: I’m the Slime


After a remarkable burst of posts regarding radio, it would seem that Television has us at a loss here at Star Maker. How can this be? Television surely occupies at least as important a place in our culture as radio does, yet I confess it took me a while to think of songs for this theme. I think it has to do with how we relate to TV, at least here in the United States. Television embarrasses us. If you want to insult an actor, tell him he is a television actor. For every John Travolta, there are ten Adam Wests. And most people forget that Travolta first became famous as the Fonz, a fact I would bet his publicist does not emphasize. We all have TV shows we love, that have influenced us greatly, but we don‘t discuss them with the same pride as a favorite movie. And so it is with songs about TV as well. You will find affectionately mocking covers of theme songs, but no one takes the originals seriously as great music when they cover TV themes. Original songs about TV have this same gently satiric tone; I hope to get to one of those later. But I know of no songs that simply embrace TV as an art form or an inspiration without apology, although the case can certainly be made

Frank Zappa, predictably, doesn‘t even try. He comes right out and spells out bluntly what makes us so uneasy about television. To him, it represents all the worst excesses of mass media, with all the big brother implications. Ironically, the video I have chosen is a television performance of I‘m the Slime. It comes from a 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live, and features an unlikely collaborator named Don Pardo.

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