Some would say that hipsters and Republicans make unlikely bedfellows — and indie band The Silversun Pickups would agree. When they heard that their 2009 hit "Panic Switch" was played at a campaign event for Mitt Romney, they were, um, not so happy. The band's attorney issued a cease and desist letter to the Romney campaign on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
"We don't like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don't like the Romney campaign," lead singer Brian Aubert said in a statement to the AP. "We're nice, approachable people. We won't bite. Unless you're Mitt Romney!" Zing!
But here's the kicker. Aubert continues, "We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that 'Panic Switch' really sends the message he intends." Double zing!
For the record, Romney's camp told the AP they didn't mean to play the song, and, per The Silversun Pickups' request, will not play it again. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email to the AP, "As anyone who attends Gov. Romney's events knows, this is not a song we would have played intentionally. That said, it was covered under the campaign's regular blanket license, but we will not play it again."
Such a kerfuffle, which pits artist against politician, is not new. Politicians have been inappropriately appropriating music for generations. It all started with The Boss.
1984: Bruce Springsteen vs. Ronald Reagan
During his 1984 bid for reelection, Ronald Reagan attempted to make Bruce Springsteen's anti-Vietnam War anthem "Born in the U.S.A." his theme song. Reagan, who clearly missed the point of Springsteen's song, said in a speech on the campaign trail in Hammonton, N.J., "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about." Springsteen, who did not endorse Reagan, wasn't amused.
1996: Sam & Dave vs. Bob Dole
When Bob Dole decided to run against an incumbent Bill Clinton in a race for the presidency, he knew he had to have a killer theme song. His pick: Sam & Dave's 1967 hit, "Soul Man." Sam Moore was on board, and rewrote the song as "I'm a Dole Man." The song's publishers, however, refused to let Dole use the song at his voter rallies.
2000: Sting vs. George W. Bush
In 2000, Bush wanted to use Sting's tune "Brand New Day" as his campaign anthem. Sting, a democrat, declined. The plot thickened, however, when Sting agreed to allow Al Gore, Bush's opponent, use of the song.
2008: The Foo Fighters, Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp vs. John McCain
Let's just say, John McCain had a hard time getting permission to play any music at all while on the campaign trail. The Foo Fighters denied McCain access to "My Hero," John Mellencamp quietly asked McCain to stop playing "Our Country" and "Pink Houses," and Jackson Browne sued for McCain's use of "Running on Empty." Browne, who was outraged that his song was used without his permission by the Ohio Republican Party to denigrate Barack Obama in a pro-McCain ad, actually filed a lawsuit.
2008: Sam Moore vs. Barack Obama
Lest we lead you to believe that this is a problem only Republicans face, here's an example from our very own POTUS, Barry Obama. In 2008, Obama used Sam & Dave's song "Soul Man" (not be be confused with "Dole Man") at his rallies. Sam Moore issued Obama a cease and desist letter.
2008: Heart vs. Sarah Palin
Referencing her high school nickname, Palin chose Heart's "Barracuda" to welcome her onstage at the Republican National Convention. Heart was outraged. "Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women," they said in a statement. "We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late Seventies as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The 'barracuda' represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there." Again with the irony!
2011: Tom Petty vs. Michele Bachmann
In her short-lived (but spirited) bid for the presidency in 2011, Michele Bachmann decided to play Tom Petty's "American Girl" while she walked onstage at a rally. Far from being flattered that Bachmann chose his song, Petty issued a cease and desist.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Autumn de Wilde; WENN]
Mitt Romney is 'Considering' Appearing on 'SNL'
Clint Eastwood: 'America needs Mitt Romney for President'
Rush Limbaugh's 'Dark Knight Rises'/Mitt Romney Conspiracy Theory
Morris Buttermaker (Thornton) doesn't really let himself get too involved in anything. He wakes up drinks a beer exterminates a few household pests for a living drinks some more beers and maybe gets laid. That's about it. Sure he was once a professional baseball player who pitched in the Show for about two-thirds of an inning but now he just uses that experience to pick up women. One such woman a tough-nut lawyer and overachieving single mom (Marcia Gay Harden) bribes Buttermaker into coaching her son's Little League team. Suddenly faced with a woefully inept racially mixed team of 12 misfits Buttermaker has got to whip them--as well as himself--into shape if they have any chance of making it to the championship let alone beating the reviled returning champs the Yankees and their overbearing coach (Greg Kinnear). Yeah Buttermaker is about to get seriously involved.
Although it's hard to top Walter Matthau's original irascible Buttermaker casting Thornton as the baseball-pelting beer-swillin' yet lovable curmudgeon is kind of a no-brainer. Since Bad Santa the actor--with his devilish goatee unkempt hair and rumpled clothes--has become the new W.C. Fields albeit an edgier one capitalizing on the I'll-deal-with-kids-but-I-really-don't-like-them persona. On top of that Thornton has a killer under-his-breath delivery especially when he's trying to dole out er words of wisdom to his team: "I know a tie is a lot like kissing your sister but the way we've been coming along it's more like kissing a really hot stepsister." The kid actors--most of them unknowns--also do a fine job. You've got the usual suspects from the first movie: the rather rotund Engleberg (Brandon Craggs); the hotheaded Tanner (Timmy Deters); and the shy and weird Lupus (Tyler Patrick Jones). Then you've got slight variations: the statistic-spouting nerd is now an Indian kid (Aman Johal) who carries around a laptop; an Armenian kid (Jeffrey Tedmori) struggles with the beliefs of his old-fashioned family; and a wheelchair-bound paraplegic (Troy Gentile) represents the politically correct "every kid can play" mentality. The one player hard to replace in the remake however is the team's ace in the hole pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer. Tatum O'Neal played her brilliantly in the original as a tough but sensitive girl who could pitch the ball like there's no tomorrow but who was looking for a father figure. She sparred well with the crabby Matthau. In this version Amanda is played by newcomer Sammi Kane Kraft a real-life ace pitcher who can't quite measure up in the acting department. Tatum you were missed.
The 1976 Bad News Bears was ahead of its time. A story about a less-than-warm-and-cuddly coach who lets the kids smoke drink beer curse up a storm and spout politically incorrect racial slurs wasn't something you usually saw in a so-called "kid" movie. But it managed to hit a home run with the anti-establishment. Unfortunately you couldn't make the same movie in today's more conservative climate but director Richard Linklater (School of Rock) sure tries his darnedest to give the audience a taste of what made playing with the original Bears so much fun. In this Bad News Bears the kids still mouth-off and Buttermaker still drinks. Several scenes such as Buttermaker telling Amanda to quit trying to make him her father are taken verbatim from the original. Even the same albeit cleverly disguised variation of Bizet's Carmen punctuates the action. But my question is this: if the burning desire to re-create the classic was too great why make an almost exact replica minus all the political incorrectness (which basically made the original such a hoot anyway)? Why not veer off and do something different? I suppose it's Linklater's way to bring in a new crop of fans who haven't seen the Matthau/O'Neal version as well as a way to pay homage. Still if I wanted to see the real Bad News Bears I'd rent the original.
To get around the premise to Head of State you must be willing to suspend your disbelief. Don't worry; it doesn't hurt. In fact it keeps you rolling in the aisles. Chris Rock plays Mays Gilliam a Washington D.C. alderman who listens to the people in his neighborhood and does everything he can to help them out. Unfortunately he's just not good at playing the political game--he's got too much heart. Then just as Mays is about to lose his job he unwittingly becomes part of a much bigger political machine. After the frontrunner in the race for president dies in a plane crash party pols--including Sen. Bill Arnot (James Rebhorn) advisor Debra Lassiter (Lynn Whitfield) and campaign manager Martin Geller (Dylan Baker)--ask Mays to step in as their nominee. Say what? Well to be honest those behind the scenes have chosen the unsuspecting Mays because they know darn well no one is going to vote for him. Losing now will give Arnot a better chance to win the presidential election in four years. What they don't expect is Mays's determination to do good as he throws away all conventions and incorporates his own special brand of campaigning (his motto: "That ain't right!"). At first only his older brother--and eventual running mate--Mitch (Bernie Mac) and new love Lisa (Tamala Jones) understand how truly effective Mays could be if elected president. Soon everyone does.
It's always been sort of a hit-and-miss situation with Rock and his films--the last two (Bad Company Down to Earth) have bombed at the box office. Fortunately Head of State captures just the right mixture of Rock's biting humor and social commentary--and even though the comedian likes to put on the smart ass routine most of the time deep down the guy has a heart of gold. I imagine Mays Gilliam is pretty close to who Rock really is. Even though Rock's good when the hilarious Bernie Mac hits the scene he turns the film up a notch. Mac whose career has skyrocketed in the last few years with his hit TV show has one of those expressive faces that tells it all. You can feel the energy rising when Mitch walks off the train dressed to the nines to meet his brother and assume his duties as Mays's running mate. In the supporting roles Whitfield does a nice job as the snooty advisor whose ideas about politics are happily changed by Gilliam's unorthodox ways while Robin Givens goes out on a limb playing Mays' shrewish ex-girlfriend who dumps the guy but desperately tries to get him back when she realizes where he's heading. Rebhorn and Nick Searcy who plays Mays's snarky opponent Vice President Brian Lewis easily take on the roles as the evil politicians. Only Jones (Two Can Play That Game) is wasted as the sweet girl-next-door.
As star co-writer and producer Rock also makes his directorial debut with Head of State. In total control of the project the comedian grabs the chance to incorporate whatever bits and outrageous behavior tickle his funny bone. In the film's opening credits for example he lists several political leaders including Bob Dole Al Gore and Hillary Clinton and then states "Who are NOT in this movie." You know from then on that you're in for a farcical ride along the road to Pennsylvania Avenue. Some moments are hysterical: Mitch explaining why with a background as a bail bondsman he's more than qualified to enter politics ("I can bail out the United States") or secret servicemen coming out of nowhere to whisk off an unwanted ex-girlfriend. Other moments miss the mark: a room full of uptight Washington D.C. muckity mucks getting jiggy with it as soon as Nelly's "Hot in Herre" comes on? Please. It's Rock's show though and he wants us to laugh long and hard--but he still sends out the message that anyone who puts his mind to it can make a difference.