We all remember Nike using The Beatles' Revolution in
a commercial, or when Wrangler used Creedence Clearwater's Fortunate Son
(to make it look like a patriotic song, not the antiwar ballad it is). Now
Target and L.L. Bean have co-opted 2 more progressive classics.
Target has recently released a TV commercial for girl's back
to school clothes using Marlo Thomas's Feminist Children's song Free to Be
You and Me in the background. Many may remember this song from their
childhoods (released in 1974); it was the title song from a record meant to
teach children that they were not bound by traditional gender roles. The song
sings of a time when people will not be judged by their race, sex, wealth, or personal differences. In the
commercial, as the song plays, 3 girls wearing different colorful Target outfits
show them off at school; each confident, because they are "free" to choose
their own style.
Possibly worse is the new L.L. Bean TV Ad which plays a Smithsonian
recording of Wobbly Haywire Mac McClintock singing his original version of The
Big Rock Candy Mountain. A member of the radical Union The Industrial
Workers of the World during it's height during the early 20th
century. He was a contemporary of song writer and organizer Joe Hill, and among
the first to publicly sing Hill's The Preacher and the Slave. The
recording of McClintock Singing was taken from an interview with him at the end
of his life. He talks of the Wobblies and that the original meaning of "The Big
Rock Candy Mountain" (the more commercial version was rewritten by Burl Ives).
It was a ballad of how older Hobos would trick younger ones to help them survive
with stories of the Candy Mountain where there are cigarette trees and alcohol
springs. These stories were based in part on springs with lemon flavored
carbonated water in the Western United States. Haywire Mac is also known for Hallelujah
I'm a Bum. These songs humanized the homeless, now The Big Rock Candy Mountain
is being used to sell expensive, yuppie, camping equipment; in Haywire Mac's
own voice. He must be rolling in his grave.
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To protest please write to both Target and L.L. Bean.
Aaron Strong is a shlameal who watches TV. You can reach him