I’ve been a bad Forced Marcher, but I’m trying to get back on track. But I digress…
Earlier this week, cable channel NESN unveiled “This Is Boston,” a new anthem for Red Sox Nation:
My pal Maura at Popdust referred to it as “a crummy anthem,” which is absolutely true. (It’s no “Tessie.” ) However, I insist it is nowhere near the worst Boston sports video. No, that honor goes to one of the following.
Is it the Patriots’ answer to the Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle,” 1986’s “New England, The Patriots and We”?
Or is it the Celtics’ “First Time Since ’69,” a horrendous 1987 earworm with bad rap about the Celtics’ attempt to win back-to-back championships for the first time since, er, 1969? (Bonus: a line about the death of Len Bias.)
I should note that both of these videos are from years where the respective teams lost. Does that mean the Red Sox are doomed this year? More importantly, which is the worst video?
It’s come to this: Funny Or Die is the latest to spoof what I refer to as The Masshole Movie, by splicing together footage from Good Will Hunting, The Town, The Departed and The Fighter. The use of “Sweet Caroline” during the Fenway sequence was a nice touch.
It’s pretty funny to see how Matt Damon has aged in the last decade or so, and this is also a great reminder that it’s wicked hahd for a non-native to do a Boston accent. Robin Williams, I’m looking at you.
It was a busy weekend. I spent Friday evening polishing my presentation for the Joint Journalism Historians Conference, making sure that I had concrete examples of my findings of what is remembered and what is forgotten in Red Sox media coverage. For the record, I talked about the “commemoration of misery” when local Boston papers look back on Bucky Bleepin’ Dent and the significance of October 27, 2004 as a flashbulb-memory event in the imagined community of Red Sox Nation.
I also discussed the intersection of ritual and media in regard to “Win It For…” a thread on the Sons of Sam Horn message board that became a sort of baseball “wailing wall” for Red Sox fans as the team came back in the 2004 ALCS and moved on to the World Series. A printout of the thread is actually in the permanent collection of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s a truly emotional read, full of birth and death and sickness and family and tragedy and triumph and I’ll admit (and everyone at my roundtable can attest to this) that I choked up reading from the first post, in which the poster implores the team to win it for his late father, who passed away in 1986. It’s the dedication that “This one’s for you, Daddy” that illustrates these expressions of emotion are not just about baseball, they’re about identity and family. Despite being about “merely” baseball, the discourses and narratives in so much of the World Series coverage is about memorial and commemoration. The coverage is steeped in the nostalgia of misery, which is not as contradictory as one might think.
I had a great time at the conference and saw some interesting papers. (A favorite was about the technology of the New York Times building’s “Zipper.” Fascinating.) The panel on the relationship between memory and history in media studies was a biased favorite, since it featured my Temple doctoral colleagues, none of whom I had met before. That’s the one difficulty with finishing my degree from a distance. There isn’t common in-person access to this fabulous group of scholars. I’m glad I got to see that the study of memory is still going strong in MM&C.
Tooting my own horn: I got a shout-out on Twitter for “best title.” I’ll take any accolades I can get at this point.
I have a friend who is a copy editor at the New York Times. I’ve begun to think of her as my “grammar consultant” (and she will probably be acknowledged as such in my dissertation). I e-mailed her the other day to ask her opinion about the possessive of “Red Sox,” something I’ve discussed here and asked about on Twitter. She didn’t know off the top of her head what the NYT style is and suggested I try to avoid it as much as possible. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid this quandary throughout my dissertation. My advisor asked me to consult Chicago and MLA, but they’re no help either.
This is how I know my dissertating phase is on its way to being over. I am sweating details like this obsessively.
I swear I’ll write about non-Sox content soon. But you should really check out the above-linked story. It’s a great example of the “summer camp” feel that Spring Training coverage has in the beginning. Everyone is loose and willing to ask ridiculous questions about a player ducking out of the clubhouse to grab a few hot dogs. Plus, you have to love that Terry Francona asks, “What did the little rat do?” in reference to Pedroia.
When I looked at Facebook this morning, an old friend from college had requested her friends reveal what their next “reckless world takeover move” would be and what song would provide the soundtrack. I replied that I would be finishing my myth and identity chapter, and it would have to be accompanied by the Dropkick Murphys’ “Tessie.” Because I am currently in a stylistic quandary about possessives, I Googled to check the spelling of “Murphys” and came across the video for their new single, “Going Out In Style.” I have a feeling that this video warrants a mention in my conclusion because of the visuals and the song’s chorus:
You may bury me with an enemy in Mt. Calvary/You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey/Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile/I could really give a s–t, I’m going out in style!/You can take my urn to Fenway, spread my ashes all about/You can bring me down to Wolly Beach and dump the sucka out/Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while/I could really give a s–t, I’m going out in style!
The song is a raucous, punk-rock Irish jig, and the video features cameos by Boston comedian Lenny Clarke, Bruins legend Bobby Orr and Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. It is a celebration and representation of a specific aspect of Bostonian culture: not the Brahmins, but the working-class, white, Catholic denizens who reside in the city and its neighboring towns. These folks are the cultural shorthand for Red Sox Nation and resemble the idealized version of Boston in most mainstream media portrayals of the region.
The Murphys have become a “house band” for Red Sox Nation in many respects. In 2004, the band recorded a cover of the Red Sox fight song “Tessie,” which featured backing vocals from Sox players, including the “Judas” Johnny Damon who would later sign with the Yankees. It became a theme for the 2004 “Reverse The Curse” season. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon uses their 2005 single “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” as his intro music when he approaches the mound. You may remember it from The Departed (and The Simpsons used it in their Departed spoof, “The Debarted”).
As the evidence suggests, the Dropkick Murphys are Boston personified. Which is why I’m dumbfounded when players from other teams use “Shipping Up…” as at-bat or celebratory music. Boston is in the title of the song! The guys are always decked out in Sox gear, and cameos by local celebrities are de rigeur in their videos. I’m fascinated by the idea that people can divorce this from the catchy riff, but I guess that many people don’t see pop culture phenomena through the same ritual/myth/Red Sox lens that I currently do.
But I hereby declare: The Dropkick Murphys are the official house band of Red Sox Nation.
MLB.com has video of outtakes from the 2011 Red Sox Picture Day. It’s fun to see how the media promo sausage gets made. Highlights: Tim Wakefield asking if something is about “Tweeter,” meaning Twitter, not the bankrupt electronics chain, Dustin Pedroia getting testy about copy and Kevin Youkilis’ attempt to read a Spanish-language promo while David “Big Papi” Ortiz chuckles in the background. I’m getting pretty excited for baseball season. You?