Friday, October 13, 2006

Where I'm Calling From II

I hadn’t planned on taking requests for this feature, but last week new BFS reader Mick Shrimpton was hollering for one of his favorites. So Mick, this goes out to you.

I admit I’ve never heard AC/DC’s “Givin’ the Dog a Bone.” I am, however, familiar enough with the band that I can probably give you a pretty could analysis of the song’s subtext.

It’s well known that AC/DC is one of the most socially conscious and politically astute bands in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Long before Bono thought to use his celebrity to lobby heads of state on behalf of the poor, the boys from Australia were fighting against injustice throughout the world. They used the stage as a soapbox and their amplifiers as bullhorns to deliver their call for righteous upheaval against the status quo.

Born on the left and nurtured on Marxist philosophy, AC/DC seized the torch that shed light on the rampant capitalism that was preying upon third world nations. Although he played a secondary role during their musical performances, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young took the lead from his brother Angus and late frontman Bon Scott in screaming out against forced corporate servitude. Malcolm was particularly sympathetic to the underclass in oppressed Asian nations, where he visited as part of an Amnesty International fact finding tour in the late 70s, right before the band commenced writing songs for the Back in Black album. It’s based on this knowledge that I assume that Malcolm was responsible for the lyrics to “Givin the Dog a Bone.”

As I said, I’ve never heard the song and I can’t be bothered to look up the lyrics, but really, the title says it all. I’ve also been told that the word “union” is in the song, which is in keeping with my assumption and the band’s alliance with the workers’ movement.

The “dog” referred to in the title comes from the phrase “worked like dogs” and is a symbol for Taiwanese sweatshop slaves. Singer Brian Johnson is most likely calling attention to the children who are forced into labor in textile plants, although some would argue that AC/DC would have called the song “Givin’ the Puppy a Bone” if this were the case. I disagree. The dog and bone metaphor is more commonly known, and, despite the fact that the AC/DC fan base is probably one of the more sophisticated you’ll find, Malcolm nevertheless would not have wanted to confuse the message over such a trivial matter.

The “bone” that he demands be delivered to the workers signifies many things. A living wage. Proper healthcare. Better working conditions. A sense of respect. In short, the humanity that these children deserve.

The message of “Givin’ the Dog a Bone” is as simple as it is powerful. I’m sure the ruling class was none too happy to hear it blaring over their FM tuners while they slept walked through the Reagan years. Great pressure surely came down from the band’s corporate record label to tone down the band’s incendiary political views. But one listen to “Put the Finger on You” from the band’s follow-up album, For Those About to Rock, will tell you that their beliefs could not be suppressed and that AC/DC would never fall into the mold of just another stupid, sex-crazed rock band.

Some have suggested that “Givin’ the Dog a Bone” is about a series of promiscuous sexual encounters. This is clearly a lazy interpretation rooted in the retarded sexuality of certain depraved listeners. If such raunchy romps are your cup of tea, however, I would recommend that you listen to “Beds are Burning” by another Aussie favorite, the sugar-coated boy band, Midnight Oil. The title really does say it all in that sleazy song.

Should this anthem for the oppressed ever be made into a movie, I envision Givin’ the Dog a Bone along the lines of Norma Rae or Gung Ho - a stirring epic that speaks to the audience’s sense of justice for the working man.

For the role of the foreign liberator who fights on behalf of the subjugated workers, there is really only one choice: Edward James Olmos. His steely compassion and barely contained rage will instantly attract the peasants while making their corporate overlords quake in their Italian shoes (made in Korea.)

As the de facto leaders of the fractured children’s resistance movement: Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning. It may seem odd in a movie based in Taiwan to pick two actors with decidedly un-Occidental features, but trust me, you need sweet and wholesome if you expect Western audiences to sit still through a three-hour docu-drama on the plight of the underclass in a forcibly industrialized nation.

The only other major characters in the film will be the children’s haggard-but-not-broken mothers. Both are seamstresses who also double as models for Nike’s sweatshop-produced swim wear. We viewers will be appalled at the way Michael Jordon’s corporate masters exploit cheap labor, but impressed with the new line of high-performance bikinis. Regular readers to this blog can probably guess which actresses will take on these critical roles and fill a majority of the 180-minute screen time.*

Well that’s it for this week. Tune in again next time, although I can’t promise when that will be. Unless I get another request, I’ll probably take Laura’s advice and cover the Capra-esque “Mr. Harris” by Aimee Mann, a song about the great Steeler running back and his quest to find love outside the huddle.

Amanda Peet and Angelina Jolie are Taiwanese seamstresses who struggle for their children’s future in Givin' the Dog a Bone.


nancy said...

Funny. I just pulled out Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust to fill up space on my iPod. I thought Beds Are Burning was a much more serious song than you suggest. Didn't it have something to do with a Farrah Fawcett movie? I would like to suggest another track from the Midnight Oil album for your next review: Warakurna, which I believe was the original Lollapalooza.

Occula said...

That was awesome. I thought the Midnight Oil comparison was particularly illuminating.

Mick Shrimpton said...

My thirst to understand has been quenched Mr. Naumovich, and I thank you.

I trust the reference to "retarded sexuality" was for my benefit?

resident jason said...

Informative post! Jeez...I haven't heard that song in years.