The Who Let the Dogs Out – the Dogs of Hate
by Mick Williams
I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I never do. If you ask me, the whole argument as to which city has the better football team could be settled without a football game, which promotes violence.
I tuned into the halftime show, though. I was hoping, as I always do, that it would feature readings from the works of Maya Angelou or Imamu Amiri Baraka. Instead, this year’s act was the Who, a British rock & roll band of some renown.
Okay, I’m a hip guy, so I thought I’d watch. Their first song was “Pinball Wizard,” the story of a young boy named Tommy who excels at pinball. I listened for about a minute, at which point I turned off my TV in disgust. The language in the song didn’t just push the envelope of offensiveness, it ripped it wide open.
You see, Tommy is challenged. He is, in the words of the Who, “that deaf, dumb and blind kid.”
Language like this may have gone unchallenged in 1971; it is not acceptable in 2010.
Now, I’m not suggesting they rewrite the lyrics to say, “That hearing-impaired, vocally-disabled and visually-challenged kid.” Not at all. “Imp*ired,” “d*sabled” and “ch*llenged” are just as offensive.
What I am suggesting is that they let the character of Tommy retain his d*sabilities, but make him comfortable with himself as a person, so that he doesn’t feel the need to prove himself by spending hours at a pinball machine. Give him a more respectable pursuit. Instead of playing pinball, have him head up a citywide recycling drive. I’m sure the Who would find their audience raising their fists, bobbing their heads, and shouting “YEAH!” just as enthusiastically for a responsible young man with an earnest concern for the environment as they would for a so-called pinball wizard.
That’s a hope for the future. As sports fans say, maybe next year. Maybe next year there will be no halftime lyrics that promote hatred and bigotry. And the year after that, if my petition succeeds, the NFL championship will be decided by a chess game between the quarterbacks on the 50-yard line.