Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead?

(picture by themirror.co.uk)

(picture by themirror.co.uk)

In the light of Baroness Thatcher’s death have been some protests against her life – and now the tune ‘Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead’ (from The Wizard of Oz musical) is being propelled up the download charts, much quicker than anyone anticipated. It’s highly likely that it will become part of the official top chart-hits this Sunday. The big debate is whether BBC Radio one should play the song as part of the charts – as a reflection of the week’s ‘hits’ – or whether they should refuse it. in the case of personalism.

My initial instinct is ‘no, they shouldn’t play it’: this is dancing on another’s grave, almost literally, and, to me, it sounds disgusting.

But we have freedom of speech in this democracy. It’s very fair that the democracy be represented by the song’s place in the charts. That was what Thatcher was all about, reaching out to people less heard. Despite the paradox the thought brings, I bet if Maggie were alive she would be laughing along to the idea.

But she’s dead, and that’s what disgusts me: the dead cannot fight back, they cannot argue their own points. The protesters are simply taking advantage of Thatcher’s state to declare their false victory – just like in The Wizard of Oz, they are cheering that she’s finally left them alone.

Think of it with moral tone. I would not like people singing that about me or my friends or my father – I suspect this would frequently be the case if laymen were asked. Thatcher’s position as a once-Prime-Minister makes no difference, in the end. It’s still a case of offence where offence lies.

One might argue that Baroness Thatcher is not mentioned. It’s just a popular tune. Ah! She might as well be. A song doesn’t have to spell out one’s name to imply that person; they might as well be singing “ding, dong, Thatcher’s dead” the way they go about it. Besides, we all know that, nowadays, ‘witch’ can be synonymous with b*tch – and I bet that’s what a lot of protesters have in mind when they sing.

Music is very addictive and is picked up on easily, especially such a reminiscent, jolly song like ‘Ding, Dong’. It was a poor song choice, in a few ways.

As Matthew Wright of ‘The Wright Stuff’ said on his show this morning, the proceeds would be better going not to Judy Garland’s estate (or whomever it is who will receive this new amount of money from the song’s downloads), but to a charity developing a cause that the protesters feel Thatcher made worse or didn’t help. That would at least be a positive protest, with benefits beyond the emotional.

Margaret ThatcherOtherwise, it’s simply another group display of aggression amongst humans – we might as well be looking at two different football rivalries, rather than political opinionists, creating vulgar chants for ingroup favouritism and outgroup belittling. They are dehumanising Thatcher and her family and her past work.

I guess that’s the idea, though. After all, one of the traits Frank L Baum gives the other witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, to alienate and make her ‘evil’, is to have green skin. And, due to evolution, we all posses xenophobic tendencies.

So, if these protesters are managing to forget that Thatcher and her family are humans just like the rest of us, it makes sense that they cry “she’s gone where the goblins go, below, below, below”.

Yet, it’s not actually vulgar. It’s a nice song; I still remember the harmonies from when I was once a Munchkin. And, I’m afraid, the misuse – if I might now call it so – of the song now changes the connotations of that Wizard of Oz scene forever. In a way, that’s not fair on the original writers; these protesters have turned a children’s song into something a lot darker beyond its original use.

I can’t say that’s what affects me the most out of this. I never lived during Thatcher’s ‘reign’, but, regardless, I think this is going too far. If someone has hurt you, you don’t go about hurting them – retaliation just leads to more trouble – but you accept what they have done and “offer the other cheek”.

From what I’ve heard anyway, our country needed the tightening that Thatcher brought. She was simply being the parent or teacher who knows best for the child – even if the child themselves denies that this way is greater than their own imaginings. To be a little Freudian, this outburst of anger and joy at her death is their way of turning hate at every single political and social repression they have encountered. It’s so much easier to hate a dead person than a living man or woman.

Don’t fan the flames of hate. The past has passed, and Baroness Thatcher is dead. It’s opinionless fact.

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4 thoughts on “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead?

  1. It’s weird that one could allow themselves to be so filled with hate for a person who hasn’t been prime minister for 20+ years. I think Jimmy Carter was among the worst presidents America ever had, but I hardly spend two seconds out of every year thinking about him. (Okay, now it’s four. 😉 ). Makes me wonder about the mental state of said people. Isn’t there enough to be going on about with life?

    I admire Thatcher for her courage in the face of extreme criticism. It seems like, at least in my country, politicians are always trying to pander to someone. Even if you didn’t like Thatcher’s policies, surely you could admire her courage to be her own woman no matter what. I wonder if they hold such contempt for her because a small part of them fears she was right. *shrug*

    I’m sorry you’ve got to go through all of that hateful muck right now. Hopefully it will dispel soon.

  2. Ah, this is interesting. Me and Mom were just talking about this yesterday(not the song, but the happiness of the people…I hadn’t heard about the song till now.)

    My first instinct was “What, CELEBRATING someone’s death???” And I still think that’s very distasteful. And wrong really.

    On the other hand, I do not think she should have had a government paid funeral–prime ministers do not usually have them, unlike Presidents who do. And considering how much people hate her, it seems a bad move as it is bound to cause unrest.

    It wasn’t just her politics though–she hurt the economy, and when unions protested she would send in the police, and they would often become violent towards the protesters. So many people lost jobs because of her. It was terrible for the working class.

    Yet in my opinion—people can be happy about her death, in their heads or own home, but making a big deal out of it, such as street parties, etc is downright distasteful. You should never celebrate anyone’s death. It’s just…ugh. No.

    I don’t hate her. But I was born in ’97, in America. I have no experience with her. But please don’t celebrate her death people…and in turn, please don’t hurt the people that are doing that, British government.

    • Prime Ministers don’t normally? Ah, my mother seemed to think they did, when we were discussing whether I’d get a day off school for, like, the state funeral. I mean, I do agree with you. It’s a bit much – why does the government necessarily have to pay for all of her funeral?

      I agree: having a song is going too far. It’s a difficult issue because we all have the right to be angry with anyone if we want to. Hmm, I don’t know.

      I can’t really think of anything else meaningful to say…

  3. I’m on the other side of the pond, but I’m fascinated by your country’s response to her death. It seems crude to speak ill of the dead, but why? If these are comments a person would have made while she was alive (calling her a “witch,” for example), then why not say it after she is gone? A person may be dead and buried, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior during life or redeem their memory. I can’t say that I would celebrate anyone’s death, but there are many people I wouldn’t speak well of after they’re gone. I would play the song, too, whether I agree with the reason for its position on the charts or not. I thought Russell Brand’s comments on Thatcher in The Guardian were very interesting. Did you see it?

    By the way, I’ve often wondered about people’s responses to Thatcher (calling her a witch). People referred to Hillary Clinton, whose politics in the US were quite different from Thatcher’s, as a witch also. It seems very sexist to give powerful women that kind of label. I wonder whether the perception of Thatcher would have been different had she been a man? Ronald Reagan is considered by many to be similar to Thatcher. He’s beloved by many (but not by me), while Thatcher is vilified. Obviously, these are different counties, but I wonder whether the British public would’ve voted for “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” had Reagan been the Prime Minister in question.

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