Saturday, April 25, 2009

String Theory

I heard a tune the other day which sounded familiar. It was recorded by the Andrews Sisters in 1940, but I couldn't place where I had heard it before. (Why I was listening to the Andrews Sisters probably requires another explanation, but we’ll leave that for another time.)

I've got no strings
To hold me down
To make me fret, or make me frown
I had strings
But now I'm free
There are no strings on me

A Google search quickly provided the answer, which seems obvious in retrospect. It is from the Disney cartoon Pinocchio (1940). I hadn’t interpreted the lyrics literally when I heard them, and perhaps the lyricist Ned Washington didn’t when he wrote them, which means he may have had some explaining to do at home about them (assuming he had strings).

I’ve taken Disney to task in the past for suckering the young (and not just the young) with false expectations of castles and fairy tale romances and happily-ever-afters. When instead they encounter mortgage payments, working-on-our-relationships, and daily stress, many naturally feel victims of a bait-and-switch. Yet, there is nothing really wrong with escapist fairy tales provided we don’t dupe ourselves into thinking they are anything else. Besides, reviewing these and other Disney lyrics, I think I may have overlooked a subtle subversive streak in Walt and his minions after all.

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