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.
Otherwise, 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.