Friday, August 03, 2007

Doin’ the Raghead Rag

By now just about everyone has heard about “Jihad: The Musical“, the hilarious stage send-up of Islamic terrorists being performed this month in Scotland. If you haven’t, go watch this video at LGF; it made me laugh until the tears ran down my cheeks.

And now — surprise, surprise! — members of a certain religious group have taken offense:

Critics take aim at Bin Laden musical

Osama bin BarmyA satirical musical about Islamist terrorism and Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has sparked protests in Britain, with critics blasting it as tasteless.

“Jihad: The Musical,” which features songs including “I wanna be like Osama” and is described as “a madcap gallop through the wacky world of international terrorism,” is on at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this month.

But a petition has been launched on Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street website.

“We the undersigned petition the prime minister to condemn the tasteless portrayal of terrorism and its victims in ‘Jihad The Musical,’ says the online protest.

The musical, by the Silk Circle Production company, had its world premier this week in the Scottish capital’s Fringe festival, famous for satirical and off-the-wall shows.

It tells the story of a young Afghan peasant, Sayid, who dreams of making it as a flower farmer selling poppies to the West.

But his plans are thwarted by a jihadi cell seeking to blow up Western targets, in particular one known as the “Unidentified, Very Prestigious Landmark.”

For some reason all the brouhaha about this brought to mind a song from my youth by the inimitable Tom Lehrer [lyrics revised per original recording link — Thanks, TJP!]:
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Vatican Rag
by Tom Lehrer


First you get down on your knees
Fiddle with your rosaries
Bow your head with great respect
Then genuflect, genuflect, genuflect

Do whatever steps you want if
You have cleared them with the Pontiff
Everybody say his own
Kyrie Eleison
Doing the Vatican Rag

Get in line in that processional
Step into that small confessional
There the guy who’s got religion’ll
Tell you if your sin’s original

If it is, try playing it safer
Drink the wine and chew the wafer
Two- four- six- eight
Time to transubstantiate

So you get down on your knees
Fiddle with your rosaries
Bow your head with great respect
Then genuflect, genuflect, genuflect

Make a cross on your abdomen
When in Rome do like a Roman
Ave Maria,
Gee, it’s good to see you
Gettin’ ecstatic and
Sorta dramatic and
Doing the Vatican Rag

I was in junior high when this song first appeared, and I thought it was funny, but it was my Catholic friends who laughed the hardest at it. And I’m not talking about lapsed Catholics, the I’ll-never-go-to-church-again kind; I’m talking about practicing Catholics. In fact, my Math teacher, a devout Catholic lady, played it for us in class.

Knowing that Dymphna was raised as an old-school Catholic, I asked her for her recollections (transcribed here by me, since she can’t type right now) of the ditty:

The first time I heard Tom Lehrer I laughed my a** off, but of course we didn’t use that phrase back then (I said derrière in those days). I thought it was a riot, and I was a girl who said the rosary and went to Mass every day. We used to sing the lyrics to each other on the bus. “Plastic Jesus” was mighty fine, too; I liked the glow-in-the-dark one we had in our car.

When the future Baron got to be a teenager I wondered if Tom Lehrer’s music had dated, and since the fB played several instruments, I bought him Tom Lehrer’s songbook. He laughed just as hard as I had so many years ago.

Funny about that. Do you suppose devout Muslims are buying up all the Fringe revue tickets and standing in the aisles so they can see it? Are they gathered around their PCs, playing the YouTube videos over and over again and laughing their burnooses off?

Methinks not.

There’s a lesson in all this, one that is often repeated here: Humor is our most potent weapon against the Great Jihad.

So do your part. Spread these videos around; they need to go viral.

But keep a straight face when you do, just like the producer of “Jihad: The Musical” did:

Producer James Lawler sought to downplay the protest. “We have no intention of causing offence or insult with this show. It is simply a musical comedy,” he said.

Ah, yes. It reminds me of a TV interview with one of the leaders of Pink Floyd — possibly Roger Waters; I can’t find an online reference to confirm it — who looked at the camera deadpan with that heavy-lidded hippie stare, and said:

We’re not a drug band.

Trust me.

Every hippie who watched that interview laughed his love beads off.

So do your part in the information war against the Great Jihad. Remember: it’s hilarious.

Laugh at it — it’s strategically useful, and also fun.


Hat tip: Steen.

12 comments:

carpenter said...

I really hope there'll be a Swedish version of the Jihad musical. I can already imagine David Batra as a Jihadi day-dreamer =] (for those who know who he is...)

falcon_01 said...

I hope they post the whole thing after the show is over... I'd love to see it all.

That camel... OMG! I bet if the Jihadis watched the clip they would all LOLLERCIDE* on the spot. There would be world peace.


*I just made that up...i think.

James said...

Baron, where exactly does it say Muslims have taken offense? Not in the article.

James said...

My point being, they suck enough without having to invent reasons therefore.

david said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Megan said...

Wow...David...take a pill. The crusades were HOW long ago? Get over it! Christians aren't the ones going around blowing themselves up around the world to Islamify us.

I don't particularly care for the word raghead, but there's a lot more offensive things out there that actually do matter. sheesh.

Baron Bodissey said...

James --

Now, don't let facts get in the way of a good story!

Seriously, you're right: Muslim outrage isn't mentioned in the news story. But do you really think that Muslims are not outraged?

And how about this headline in This is London:

"Muslim fury as 'Jihad The Musical' comes to the UK"

chef said...

it was david gilmore who says that in the interview portion of live at pompai

Gringo_Malo said...

The video was funny. And they do wear rags on their heads, don't they?

Jim C. said...

I'd see the show if it gets to Chicago, but that song is only mediocre.

Anybody remember "Patrick Henry's" "It's In The Koran" that was banned from YouTube? Now that was really close to Lehrer quality - a combination of "Vatican Rag" and "So Long, Mom, I'm Off To Drop The Bomb". And it should have been staged like "I Wanna Be Like Osama".

Lao said...

Interesting. But I can't help think that this musical will bomb if it ever hits Broadway.

Lucille said...

Lao - You never know. ;) Are you familiar with "The Producers"?