Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Messiahs ride for free on Wednesdays

Remember this crappy song?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USR3bX_PtU4

What if God was one of us? You know what bothers me about this song? In every major religion, God was one of us! I mean, that’s pretty much the entire premise of Christianity! And Islam has Mohammed. Even the Jews have the dinner guest who apparently always RSVPs yes as a joke. And there’s Buddah and all the multigod religion gods are always having babies with people creating hybrid humangods.

So… yeah… not really such a novel concept. And it’s not clever that you said he was on a bus.  You only said that because it rhymes with “us”. Which is just embarrassing.

Really, Joan Osborne was a Jugalette before her time, a pioneer on the ignorant attempt at profound lyrics frontier.

What pop culture thing drives you crazy because it’s so wrong? Should we all dress up as clowns and throw Faygo into the bay in protest? Do pregnant women have to forfeit their seats to Jesus if he gets on the bus?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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71 Comments

  1. I hate the commercials and sit-coms that portray fathers as blithering idiots who can’t do anything correctly. Who are helpless when confronted with a dirty diaper or a feeding time. Who can’t cook a meal, clean a house or get the kids ready for school. I hate the way fathers are depicted as little better than children themselves. I despised the conceit that a father will go out of his way to avoid his family.

  2. I’m bugged by the phrase “worked like a charm.” I tried to raise public consciousness by using the phrase “worked like an appendectomy” instead. As far as surgical procedures go, appys are pretty effective for treating the problem at hand.

    On a whim, I checked PubMed for “recurrent appendicitis” and got 546 hits. So maybe appendectomies aren’t a sure-fire cure.

    You can also substitute gravity or conservation of matter for charm, but I think appendectomy is funnier.

  3. The fact that in mainstream media, all the gays are either overly dramatic, or outright queens.

    And the gays are helping things any. Every time I hear a gay man say flustered “I’m no good with tools”, I just want to punch him. Neither was I, until I started working with them. The gay gene doesn’t suppress the gene to work with tools.

    Oh, BTW, a pregnant woman doesn’t have to give up her seat to Jesus just because he gets on. Now, if he has a broken leg, then, yeah, unass that chair woman.

  4. In every major religion, God was one of us!

    This is a bizarre claim. The notion of a human being who was also God is a uniquely Christian notion. Muslims and Jews are baffled by it, and have traditionally used it as one of their major arguments against Christian theology. And any Muslim would be quite offended by your claim that Mohammed is a god, or analogous to a god, in their religion.

    A Buddah, or the Buddah, is not God, a god, or analogous to a god except in the most strained possible way. What you call “multigod religions” do not have a “God.” There is a big difference between a “God” and “a god.”

    I really do not understand where you get this idea that all religions believe that “god was one of us.”

  5. Oh, and another thing, Edie Brickell, the lyrics for “What I Am” are perhaps the most inane in English:

    “I’m not aware of too many things
    I know what I know, if you know what I mean
    Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
    Religion is the smile on a dog
    I’m not aware of too many things
    I know what I know, if you know what I mean, d-doo yeah

    What I am is what I am
    Are you what you are or what?
    What I am is what I am
    Are you what you are or what?

    Choke me in the shallow waters
    Before I get too deep”

    Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, Edie. I can’t believe you schtupped Paul Simon and still couldn’t come up with better lyrics.

    HJ

  6. @EvanHarper: Yeah, that.

    I don’t think the song is so bad. It captures a moment of a person’s experience of asking the question. I’d say the most irritating thing about the song was it’s ubiquity, not the lyrics. (But then I don’t expect a song to encapsulate a thesis necessarily; often just a feeling will do.)

    But to answer the OP: the thing I hate most about pop culture, and have hated for as long as I can remember, is the way it packages the appearance of rebellion as a fashion, substituting a doppelganger of critical thought in people’s minds and leaving no room for the real thing.

  7. I am not fond of text messaging shortcuts, lack of capital letters, skipping words and the general abuse of the written language that has become so prevalent.

    I am not fond of people who feel the need to text or speak on the phone while they are with another person.

    I don’t even like call waiting, because if you have to put someone on hold to take another call, it says something about how much respect you have for the person you just put on hold. Its just rude. There are very few situations urgent enough to warrant the interruption.

    However, all of these things exist and I am a lonely voice on the subject. I don’t let it bother me too much. Culture and Life changes. You accept it and adapt or you get run over.

  8. This is just an example of the way all gods are. Humans superimpose their ideals onto a god. Stern people believe in a stern god, liberal protestant ministers believe in a kind god, and hippies believe in a hippie god–“just a slob like one of us.” I like Bob Rivers’ take on that song, “What If God Smoked Cannabis.” But I’m okay with Jone Osborne, deluded though I think she is. At least she’s not saying that scientists are full of shit. As for my pet peave, let me think. I hate lawyer ads, but maybe that’s just me. I hate politics and greed and right-wing nut-jobs. I sometimes think that entertainment has pushed the envelope a bit too far. I wonder if those folks at Comedy Central really know how to make people laugh without using the f-word for every other word.

  9. In Judaism and Islam, god was most definately not one of us. Mohammed and Elijah were prophets. Buddah was one of us, but not a god.

    Actually, now that you bring it up, Christianity is the only religion I know of where god/his son/himself was actually fully human at one point.

    But that song does fucking suck and thanks for putting it in my head.

  10. @cicero: I think if you think about it, you’ll find even christianity has gone to great lengths to deprive jesus of most human traits. They have slowly but purposefully reduced him to a character from a bad novel or a fairy tale – no depth, no feelings or experiences beyond those that serve the plot, living in the world but somehow disconnected from it in every significant emotional way.

    As for the song, i kinda like it, though to me it’s about people more than god. I’ve been told so many times I’m going to hell – this song makes me think “back at ya”. After all, isn’t there something in the bible about what to do to others you do to me? I hear this song, and I think to myself, if (extremely unlikely though it is) there is a god, and he is as they describe him, their chances of getting ino the big free for all in the sky aren’t any better than mine.

  11. Remember when TLC did the song “No Scrubs” and they won a Grammy for it? I HATED that song because it was so excessively repetitious……..at least six times the chorus was repeated, over and over, beating it into my head. UGH! They should have written more to the song to keep it interesting.

    http://www.metrolyrics.com/no-scrub-lyrics-tlc.html

    But some songs never get boring, like this one:

    http://www.metrolyrics.com/the-voice-lyrics-moody-blues.html

  12. @Dale Husband:

    “No scrubs” was positively verbose in comparison with another song that made the rounds around the same time. It was called “down”. That was the only word in the entire song. I don’t remember who sang it, so I can’t find it to post here, but it was crazy bad.

  13. Songs: most anything popular. To me, music is like food, and popular music is, for the most part, equivalent to cotton candy. Easy to digest, but not filling at all.

    Phrases: Well, bless his/her heart. What, like the rest of the body doesn’t deserve blessings? And why is it someone says that, it’s usually followed with some mean stuff. It’s lazy language.

  14. Songs: Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and The Beatles “Let it Be”

    I don’t like Single Ladies because it implies that being single is a tragedy, and also that love should equal ownership.
    I don’t like Let it Be because I disagree with that philosophy on life. things will not get better if you just chill out. Get off you butt and do something! But the song is quite beautiful if I disregard that.

  15. I can understand it if you don’t like an overplayed song, but to harsh on Joan Osborne as a proto Jugalette seems a little….well, whatever. It’s a rant, do as you like. However, Joan Osborne is a pretty cool artist. I liked most of that album, great blues themes, awesome voice. Check out her biography. Not very ICP.

  16. @justphoenix: “Works like the heat death of the universe!”

    *

    As for my pet peeves, there are so many stereotypes and cliches that I don’t care for that if I listed all of them I’d be labeled a crank. Which I’m not. I just hate lazy characterization and storytelling.

    Plus, I’m able to ignore more of the cliches out there, to a point. It’s only a few that I really hate. One of them is on my mind because I just wrote a blog post about Young Adult fiction. When I was a teenager I didn’t care for most any TV shows about teens because they always presented this idealistic vision of adolescence that’s all dating, parties, and breezing through school. None of the emotional turmoil and confusion of coming into your own that I, at least, experienced (Daria was a very welcome exception).

    So 10-12 years ago that would have been my answer: TV shows about teens. But lately I’ve been reading some YA books and watching some shows about teenagers, and while sometimes there doesn’t seem to be much movement away from the idealistic view, I find it a bit more believable that they aren’t as heavy and are more consequences-free than straight-up adult fiction is.

    Or at least, what adult fiction should be. Because when thinking about teen fiction I realized there’s a lot of adult fiction that is just as idealistic and care-free and consequences-free as teen fiction is. Only in adult fiction it’s completely unrealistic.

    I can understand this in the movies from the Great Depression, where seeing beautiful people living in beautifully decorated houses and wearing elegant clothing and “We’re In the Money” works as the best form of escapism from the harsh reality. But the problem is Every. Single. Piece of fiction today has to end with every issue taken care of and no problem or mistake from the previous 90 minutes has lasting repercussions. It’s fake, it’s phony, and it’s a fucking lie. Life never reaches a point where all your problems are wrapped up and you can walk into the sunset as the music swells, roll credits.

    I can accept YA fiction having happy endings, nobody asking “Where do we go from here?” because one’s teen years are, usually, a form of adulthood-lite, with the growing maturity and the dating and money issues, but without any lasting problems. But I hate it in adult fiction because there’s no excuse for it.

    I also don’t like the stereotype of teens as slackers with a sense of entitlement. My theory is that the cliche is rooted in adults and their jealousy of how much better teen life seems than adult life, and so they feel compelled to insult the people they envy.

  17. @infinitemonkey: Have you seen Modern Family? It’s on ABC. You should watch it if you haven’t. Their portrayal of a gay family (yes, a family!) is refreshing and, well, modern. Sure, sure, there’s some flamboyancy Cameron’s part — but he’s also way into football and other stereotypical “man” things (like tools!), and has no problem kicking burglar ass. Basically, the two gay characters aren’t just one dimensional. They are like, real gay people! It’s amazing, really. LOVE that show. The whole show is hilarious.

    And then, of course, there is Lafayatte on True Blood.

    So, we’re getting there. Slowly but surely.

    I’m pretty sure that Ellen Degeneres, but with her named spelled correctly, had a big hand in this. Weird that a comedian and talk how host could have so much influence on how society views gays and lesbians.

  18. Mine would also be Teens in sitcoms and movies.
    Such as the show “Dexter” where you have Aster as a rather pleasant young girl. All the sudden she hits puberty and she’s obnoxious, plays music loudly, screams she doesn’t get her way, demands ipods, and acts like everyone owes her something.
    Apparently the minute you hit the double digits you become a one dimensional character who only serves as a annoyance and comic relief.

  19. Actually I like this song. I never let squirrelly lyrics get in the way of enjoying a good tune. Mind you I always love smart lyrics but for me the melody comes first. If you don’t like Joan’s lyrics how about Bob Rivers parody “what if god smoked cannabis”

  20. What GabrielBrawley said.
    I’ve hated the “dumb Dad, smart Mom/kids” meme for decades.

    Many of the teens I have known were a Hell of a lot sharper than they were given credit for, but hadn’t learned how to use their brains appropriately yet. The long view tended to be lacking…

    I also hate the “gay is no good with tools” meme. Most of the gay people I’ve known were indistinguishable from other people and used hand and power tools in everyday situations as well as anyone else. Some of them built houses or repaired airliners for a living, for FMS’s sake!

    I love fiction that leaves some uncertainty in the ending…We all know that in real life, sometimes there ARE no good answers. There’s only bad and worse answers. Once in a while, there is NO answer at all. Those are the books/movies/etc. I love to review later to see what answers I might come up with after more years of real life…

    I pretty much ignore pop culture these days. I figure pop music is supposed to be fun and if the lyrics are dumb, who cares? I couldn’t care less who is hot or not in Hollywood. Most of them are conceited little shits with a big sense of entitlement, anyway. (Ex: See LiLo, Madonna, the latest boytoy or girltoy of the week, etc.)

    P.S. What would a God need with a bus, anyway?

  21. Since this topic seems to have derailed into annoying song lyrics, I feel the need to say that the only pop song that ever caused a physical response in me was “All Star” by Smashmouth. It literally makes me angry and sad.

    Consider the lyric: “Never made sense not to live for fun / Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb”.

    I think what makes a terrible pop song (or anything vapid in pop culture) truly offensive is when you couple it with a really cocksure attitude – i.e., All Star, Juggalos, etc.

  22. @Andrew Nixon: Yes. THAT! There was a comedian who did a great bit on ‘literally’. He had a friend who said ‘ … and I literally shit my pants’. And then the comedian proceeded to teach him the hard way, that he meant ‘figuratively’.
    John Hodgeman has some good stuff on it to.

  23. Prince wrote the song, not Joan. We all know that Prince is bat shit insane, way above and beyond his cuckoo religious views alone.

    That doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the greatest musical minds of our time.

    Music is not poetry with a groove. Great songs have nothing to do with lyrics, and the best lyrics are usually so ambiguous they could mean anything to anybody.

    Music is music, it’s about rhythm, melody, chord changes and style. Pop songs are about the hook, as John Popper of Blues traveler so eloquently sang. (THAT’s IRONY BTW! Singing a song that’s about the fact that the listener is too dumb to not get sucked in by the hook, and it becoming a hit because it has a great hook!)

    Most of the song writers I know couldn’t tell you what half of their lyrics mean, they just know they had the right number of syllables for the melody they were going for and sounded esoteric enough that they thought people would buy it.

  24. @gwenwifar: Exactly. Blue collar used to be Roseanne (the sitcom, not the crazy comedienne) now it’s the anti intellectual b.s. that is exemplified by Joe the plumber.

    While we’re at it, why does Jeff Dunham have a following? His stand up is straight from the 80’s and he works with puppets for fuck sake. Not just any puppets, mind you, but stereotypical puppets that most people would dismiss as lame if they were portrayed by live actors. You got the jive-talkin’ teeth-suckin’ black man (Big Daddy Dee), the kerayzee alien with an amphetamine problem (Peanut), the illegal immigrant vegetable-on-a-stick (Jose Jalapeno), the angry insecure not-still-with-us middle eastern terrorist (Achmed the dead terrorist), the grumpy but lovable hate-monger (Walter), and finally the NASCAR-lovin’ beer-swillin’ southern redneck (Jeff Dunham Bubba J).

    But what do I know, maybe racist dummies are funny.
    After all, Sarah Palin is hilarious.

  25. I support Andrew Nixon in despising incorrect use of the word “literally”. It’s particularly irritating because the user generally means the exact opposite, but it’s just another example lazy language and thinking.

    Another annoying example is “absolutely”. On UK TV, nobody *ever* answers “yes” any more, they say “absolutely”. Usually, of course, it isn’t absolute, it’s just a fawning, lazy attempt to appear more ‘positive’. If you think a simple yes is inadequate, then explain why rather than expecting us to take your word for it.

    Another is “so, so” in the sense of “this expression is so, so annoying”. It’s hard to imagine a lazier attempt at emphasis. Why not use a comedic simale or a hyperbolic exaggeration?

    Phrases like “and then I turned round and said” and “like” and “totally” are lazy in a different sense. They’re just inappropriately placed commas that don’t add any meaning.

    Lazy language often seems a reliable indicator of lazy thinking. There’s certainly no shortage of that. An especially irritating non-verbal example is the near fetishism of lazy, uncritical thought in supposedly informative media, as with the ‘reporting’ of that damnable octopus on the BBC’s breakfast news programme.

  26. Back [email protected]Andrew Nixon: Back when it was hip, one of the local FM “alternative” stations had some recording company promo guy on, and pretty obviously the station management had arranged it and the DJ wasn’t very happy about it and was giving the the promo guy a hard time. The DJ asked him why he was there, and the promo guy said it had to do with a platinum record being award to one of his acts. The DJ asked what that meant, and the promo guy said it was because he had sold a million units. The DJ said “What’s a unit? I don’t speak metric.” Well, you probably had to be there.

  27. @erikthebassist: I disagree entirely. Some music does not require meaningful lyrics to be worthwhile, but it never hurts.

    Lyrics are often vague, yes, and as a lyricist you have to make certain compromises in favor or rhythm and melody, but in my opinion the best lyrics are the most considered. As with any writing, maintaining intellectual and emotional honesty in fiction (and all lyrics are fiction – at least after a while) is part of the craft, and honesty requires specificity. Ambiguous lines like “your love is a fire in my heart” are trite and say absolutely nothing worthwhile or real, but work because we’ll fill in the blanks with a weird mixture of personal experience and tired media-constructed scenarios. It’s half-assed pathos.

    And don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that lyrics have to be straightforward to be good. Surrealism, existentialism, and seemingly random lyrics can often be more emotionally intuitive than any down-to-earth realism. The point is that if there are going to be lyrics in a song, they should be considered like any other part, and in all aspects. That includes melody, rhythm, and intellectual/emotional content.

    Sorry to go on a music rant.

  28. @EvanHarper: and @Elyse: BUDDHA! sorry, the typo was repeated one too many times. But yeah Christianity is really the only religion to date that puts God as one of us in the literal sense, and while the traditional story of the Buddha consists of a claim that the Buddha was a god at one time (it is one of the states one can achieve on the wheel of reincarnation), he was not a god during his time amongst the population.

    @marilove: That show is fantastic, and a highly refreshing departure from most of the pap passed off as comedy on television today. And while I realize some people had a problem with the iPad episode, the way it was done in the show very much emphasized the way hype works within real life, which I enjoyed immensly (especially as a tech head who kind of wants one of those damnable iTampons ).

    @joeharbison: probably why I am such a big fan of Bad Religion.

  29. @Non Believer:

    I don’t even like call waiting, because if you have to put someone on hold to take another call, it says something about how much respect you have for the person you just put on hold. Its just rude. There are very few situations urgent enough to warrant the interruption.

    I’m always surprised how that is the accepted correct position. I hate phone calls in general of any sort but they are a necessity.

    All of my calls fall into two categories.
    Important and therefor the reason I have a phone.
    Casual and therefore made possible by the presence of a phone to deal with the important variety.

    It’s entirely likely that the call coming in is more important than the one I’m already taking, as the casual calls tend to out number the important ones. But they are still more important, and with out them I’d ditch my phone in a second leaving the casual callers without any means to contact me.

  30. @Gabrielbrawley: Yeah, the “dad is an idiot” stuff drives me insane, as well. There was a series of ads like that a few years ago, and I recall someone doing a parody of it as “So easy, your wife can do it.” (Obviously, this is the most thoroughly of vetted of sources. ;-))

    @gwenwifar:
    On the “Christianity has stripped the humanity out of Jesus”, I have to agree. I grew up with a variety of mainline protestant faiths (Army protestant, as I call it), but it wasn’t until I read Lamb by Christopher Moore that I met a Jesus I could actually like… someone with humanity. Of course, by this time, I was already well away from the church for other reasons…

  31. @erikthebassist:
    Not to be the annoying guy who fact-checks everyone, but the song was actually written by Eric Bazillian (of Hooters “fame”.) You might be thinking of the Sinead O’Conner hit “Nothing Compares 2U” which was written by Prince.

  32. I also get really frustrated by pop culture science like “We only use 10% of our brains” or all the sex stereotyping. Based off of tiny differences in certain studies, people spout off about how women are natural nurturers, can’t do math but boy are horribly shortchanged by the system and can only be technical.

  33. @PrimevilKneivel:

    “It’s entirely likely that the call coming in is more important than the one I’m already taking, as the casual calls tend to out number the important ones. ”

    But important to whom? Your incoming call isn’t important at all to the person you’re already talking to. That’s why putting people on hold is considered rude.

  34. @mattm I stand corrected. If you read the wikipedia entry on the song it mentions that Prince covered it on his Emancipation album and took a song writing credit for it. That must have been where I got the idea that he wrote it from.

    Further research shows that all he did was change one word, from “slob” to “slave”, which I guess in his bat shit insane world justifies a co-writing credit.

  35. @gwenwifar:

    Well, it depends how you define ‘multitask’. We’re all doing many thousands of things at once, 24 hours a day. It would be quite tedious to have to stop my heart beating and my brain processing images from my eyes as I type this, for example.

    There are three things that annoy me about this myth, however. First, ‘multitask’ is a jargon term from my own field of computer science, which is almost always misunderstood and misused whenever people are described as multi-tasking. You’ve just done it yourself, as it happens. Second, the idea that women can multitask and men can’t is as specious as it is ill-defined and poorly-supported by evidence. As far as I can tell, it’s a completely made up idea. But it’s one that every medium loves to trot out unthinkingly. That’s what annoys me. I’m not all that concerned whether it’s true or not; I’m concerned that people repeat it without knowing or caring if it’s true. Third, posting on this topic is certain to evoke a priggish response from someone even more pedantic and wrong than yourself :)

  36. Elyse, just to be consistent I’d think Jesus would throw himself under the bus so you wouldn’t have to give up your seat. That is if your husband had given permission for you to go on the bus in the first place.

  37. If you really want some dumb ass pop lyrics just look at 85% of all pop tunes written from the 1950’s to yesterday. Profound and intellectually stimulating is the last thing most pop songs try to be or even want to be. Sure some get there but most want a good hook that sticks in your head and an appeal to some emotion that makes you want to listen again or buy the 45/LP/CD/iTune. I love opera so I guess that makes me a high brow sophisticated music type, except that the stories in most opera’s are complete schlock with infantile emotional outbursts’ and irrational stupidity as plot movers and character motivations. But damn the music and voices are incredible!

    @marilove: What I like about Lafayette is his combination of flair, earthy intelligence and ‘who gives a fuck’ about his sexuality. I don’t know if the actor is gay but how fun would it be playing a character like Lafayette.

  38. @latsot:

    i define multi-tasking as performing more than one task involving cognitive resources like memory and attention simultaneously. not necessarily a lot of resources – moving my finger as I type this requires my central executive to signal my muscles to move. therefore typing is a task. as i sit here typing, one of my cats is curled up on my lap. neither sitting nor curling up with the cat require memory or processing power, and neither are tasks. so sitting with the cat while typing this is not multi-tasking.

    such things as breathing and heart beat aren’t tasks either. they are handled by your autonomic nervous system.

    but the real point you’re missing is scale. things happen at staggering speed in your brain. you brain can make consecutive decisions so fast that you appear to be doing several things at once. but you are in fact switching back and forth fast between them. the latest cognitive psychology research, and in fact all research i’m aware of on this topic, indicates that while the switching back and forth can become so efficient that for all practical purposes you are multitasking, in fact, or technically if you will, you are not. your brain is a great juggler, but can’t process two things at exactly the same time.

    pedantic? ok. wrong? i don’t think so.

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