June 8, 2012 at 11:59 AM ET
So, do you think listening to Bert and Ernie could get you to spill secrets? The folks running Guantanamo Bay seem to think so – Al Jazeera reports they’ve forced detainees there to listen to loud “Sesame Street” music “for hours or days on end.”
I don’t blame Sesame Street’s composer, Christopher Cerf, for being ticked off. He told Al Jazeera:
“I didn't really like the idea that I was helping break down prisoners, but it was much worse when I heard later that they were actually using the music in Guantanamo to actually do deep, long-term interrogations and obviously to inflict enough pain on prisoners so they would talk."
My sentiments exactly. But the notion of using music to make other people unhappy has always fascinated me (my parents will back me up on that), particularly ever since I read about the military blasting rock and roll as a psyops move to flush Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of hiding.
I like a lot of different music and can find something in most all genres that is worth listening to, and that includes children’s music. But just BARELY. The simple tunes, the wacky sounds, the seemingly endless repetition of what sounds to the adult ear like nonsense (but often is teaching my kid how to tie her shoes or something, I know) – I think the interrogator who put “Sesame Street” on “repeat” must have gotten the idea in a minivan loaded with kids.
“Sesame Street” wouldn’t be so bad for me. So far we’ve dodged overexposure to the Street gang, and the stuff we do watch, I like – Feist rewriting “1-2-3-4” as a counting lesson, or Ernie’s reggae smash “Do De Rubber Duck.” A few days ago, though, my wife said something that sent a chill down my spine:
“You should download ‘Y.M.C.A.’ onto your phone. The Village People.”
She hasn’t been drinking, I thought, and I don’t see evidence that she fell and struck her head. So why would she say that?
“They dance to it at preschool,” my wife explained. “NJ loves it.”
So I did it. Because I love my 2-year-old daughter. And I danced to it with her. I helped her refine her arm movements spelling out Y-M-C-A. And we danced to it again. And again. Now I’m hoping that famous short toddler attention span kicks in, so “Y.M.C.A.” will soon be a distant memory. (And no, not so we can move on to “Macho Man.”)
But I still don’t think listening to the Village People is torture. I mean, you can dance to it. Children’s music, though? Well …
Along with the Village People, the adult-oriented performers who get NJ going currently are Adele (she’s repeatedly identified “Rolling in the Deep” as her favorite song), Bruce Springsteen (“Bruuuuuuuce,” as she knows him), and the Rolling Stones. And yes, I’m responsible for the last two. I always perk up when she asks “What is this song?” because it’s another opportunity for me to mold her specifically to my tastes.
Not that it will stick, of course. There’s a node way in the back of NJ’s brain that is already developing her future “Dad has terrible taste in music” position. I’m already cringing at the thought of whatever will be popular amongst tween girls in 10 years. I’m sure it’ll be torture.
Who would your enemies play to get you to talk?
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