The problem, really, is that once you start to become more socially aware, the issues with some older media become a little more glaring. If you don’t believe me, just watch the original Ghostbusters and tell me Bill Murray’s behavior towards Sigourney Weaver doesn’t set of your CREEPER ALERT klaxons.
I’ve been listening to a lot of old Police hits. Mostly because I named a character in a novel Roxanne just so I could make a Roxanne joke, as any sane person would do.
In my Spotify account is a playlist called ‘Favs,’ like a master list of the music I like. When I find something I enjoy, I add it, and listen to the whole thing on shuffle constantly. It’s an A+ method of growing completely sick of the music you like the most, but I digress.
So I add in a lot of Police stuff and we’ll focus on two, Roxanne and Don’t Stand So Close To Me. Now, Roxanne is where we see what a PARAGON of feminism Sting is (Sting is such a 70’s name. “What would be totally hardcore? Show off how cool I am?” “How about a really bad-ass verb?!” I mean, in his defense, his name is Gordon. Just not as cool.) ANYWAY Sting manages, in the same verse, to sing both “I’ll never talk down to ya” and “I told you once I won’t tell you again…” Jesus man, make up your mind. You gonna treat me like a person, or…did you just threaten me? FFS dude, Imma stick with sex work, you’re scary. And an entire treatise could be written on that view of sex work and prostitution, but that’s not the point.
The one that really makes me Have Some Questions for Sting is Don’t Stand So Close To Me. It’s a total creep song in and of itself, seemingly about a male teacher’s interest in a young female student. First of all, No. Second, No. But third, omg didn’t Sting used to be a teacher whaaaa?
Automatically, you see The Issue here. A guy who used to be a teacher writing about the struggle of a teacher/student relationship. Mostly, it makes for a good laugh. “Oh hey, I listened to this song a lot as a kid without paying attention and I’m listening to it now and it’s about WHAT but it’s still a good song but lol content.”
And I’m guilty. I’ve been sitting in judgement of Sting for this. Purely for the laughs, I won’t lie, but judgement all the same.
I got to thinking about this though. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we’ve been a bit quick to get cheap, horrified laughs at Sting’s expense. Maybe we were too quick to judge.
I write crime fiction on occasion. I’ve written about murders in the town I live, murdering people on the jobsites I visit, crimes that occur up and down the freeway I drive. Should somebody judge me just because I wrote a story about killing somebody inside a water well? Are future generations going to chase me down, get every job site I worked at and go start looking for bodies?
Probably not. There’s too many places. They’ll never find the right crime scene.
Um. What I’m trying to say is maybe Gordon Verb Sting didn’t really ever feel that way as a teacher. Maybe he just was looking for inspiration, thought back to his time in the classroom, and wrote a pretty damn good piece of fiction that gets misunderstood by every generation of young people until they’re old enough to re-listen and go, “Holy shit, dude, Sting, weren’t you a teacher? Creepy, man, WTF?”