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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Holden's Relationship Song Analysis

            I wrote this paper today for my communications class. I was supposed to analyze a love song and use "relationship concepts" and theories to do so. I don't even know if my teacher will like it, but I felt good about it. I chose "Creep" by Radiohead as my song. 

What Radiohead's Creep Teaches Us About Romantic Relationships
          Every relationship starts with some sort of attraction. There are numerous theories and phenomena that social psychologists have managed to put into words that seemingly describe how this occurs, but it will always be relatively mysterious. A phenomenon known as the “beautiful-is-good” effect may be the most effective way to explain attraction. I will proceed to discuss this magical effect, and also the “Matching Hypothesis”, which states that we are attracted to those who match our good looks. Do these theories have some sort of influence in Radiohead’s 1992 single Creep? Some would contest that this song is more of an angry song than a “love song,” but I feel it is both, and it seems to demonstrate a very basic idea in romantic relationships, that we like beautiful people.
            The “beautiful-is-good” effect is well known in society, as well as in biology. When we see beautiful people, we see intelligence and communication competence, as well as nice butts and child-bearing hips. When female peacocks see a male display his beautiful feathers, they see not only one good looking bird, but good genetics and potential viable offspring. As humans, we may use all sorts of terms to describe our attractions, but we’re just like any other animals. We want to mate, and we want to do so with the most beautiful partners.
            Remembering those wise words, we examine Creep. The song was written in 1987 by Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke, who, as anybody can testify who has seen him perform live, is kind of weird. Listening to a lot of their songs and hearing Yorke’s melancholy (but lovely) voice makes you think that he’s had an inferiority problem in life. Which he probably has, since kids made fun of him growing up because of his “drooping eyelid,” a problem resulting from an eye paralyzed and fixed shut at birth. Yorke himself describes Creep as a tale about an inebriated man who tries to get the attention of a woman that he follows around and is attracted to, but in the end “lacks the self-confidence to face her.” Yorke describes the song as “being in love with someone, but not feeling good enough.” He describes this feeling as, “There’s the beautiful people, and then there’s the rest of us.”
            The “Matching Hypothesis” states that we are attracted to those who we feel match our good looks, and that we don’t want to be paired with people who are “above” or “below” us in that regard. In my own personal opinion, this hypothesis is somewhat flawed, and this song shows how this is so. The singer in this song, obviously Yorke, since it mirrors his personal experience, is attracted to a woman. “Creepy,” you might say. “He just follows her around?” Exactly. That’s why it’s called Creep. In spite of this attraction, you can sense his inferiority, his feeling of worthlessness in her presence. The opening line states “When you were here before, I couldn’t look you in the eye.” Then praise. “You’re just like an angel. Your skin makes me cry.”
            It seems the “Matching Hypothesis” doesn’t really work here. He obviously wants to be paired with her, despite the fact that she is most definitely “above him” in terms of physical beauty, but he knows that it will never work. His own sense of worthlessness is the great barrier.
            The most important lines in the song: “I wish I was special. You’re so very special.” Now everyone should know that the word “very” in that line was originally a profanity, but was edited for release in the U.S. Yorke thought that the song “lost its anger as a result.” Knowing that, we realize, even more, how much Yorke perceives himself: as a member of a social class completely and utterly distinct and separate from beautiful people. And boy is he mad about it. In fact, the chords themselves even show it. Says Guy Capuzzo, a music theory professor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the ostinato (or common chord progression used throughout the song) “portrays the song’s obsessive lyrics, which depict the self-lacerating rage of an unsuccessful crush.” I will not go into specific detail about how this occurs, but it is important to note again, the anger, the rage. Why? Because beautiful is good. And Thom Yorke is not beautiful (remember the goofy droopy eyelid). Therefore, Thom Yorke, in his own self-perceived way, is not good, and will never be good enough for the aforementioned crush. Hence: “I’m a creep. I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” Doesn’t belong where? On the same level as his little heart’s desire.
            Some may argue there is no relationship value to this song, that it’s just a “stalker” song on the same level as “One Way or Another,” or “Every Breath You Take.” It could be true. It seems there is no actual interpersonal communication in this song, only the singer’s crazed obsessions. But is a stalker necessarily a “bad” thing? In light of this song…yes. Apparently, Yorke received fan mail from murderers saying how much they related to the song. Now if that doesn’t throw a negative light on it, then I don’t know what does. Regardless, it is evident that the singer is attracted to a person much more beautiful than him, and it is driving him mad with rage.
In conclusion, it is the “beautiful-is-good effect” that drives Yorke to anger in this song. Furthermore, in my own opinion, the “Matching Hypothesis” is flawed, in that we really can be attracted to someone who is on a higher level of beauty than we are. And yet, perhaps the “Matching Hypothesis” has some validity, because I just looked at a picture of Yorke’s girlfriend of 23 years, Rachel Owen, and you know what I decided? He definitely doesn’t date a supermodel. In fact, she’s kind of goofy looking. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Corona Radiata

I had the chance to go on my lunch break earlier. I decided to lay down on the grass across the street from where I work. I do weird things when I'm sick. And then I just lay there, and I stared up into the sky. And I suddenly realized that "Arlene and the Ampersand Band" would make a great name for a band. I also realized some other dynamite things.

1) There was a mushroom next to me in the grass. Actually, I noticed this before I lay there on the grass. In fact, this is the very reason I chose that particular spot to rest my weary self. It was a cute little mushroom, and as such, it would provide little power if Super Mario came along and decided to eat it up. It might cause him an upset stomach though, maybe some nausea. Then he wouldn't be so super anymore.

2) Looking up into the sky, I noticed a multitude of vitreous eye floaters, floating around in my vitreous humor. I tried to look at them, but then they would float away.

Oh squiggly line in my eye fluid.
I see you lurking there on the periphery of my vision.
But when I try to look at you, you scurry away.
Are you shy, squiggly line?
Why only when I ignore you, do you return to the center of my eye?
Oh, squiggly line, it's alright, you are forgiven.

That is a lovely poem about eye floaters from Stewie Griffin.

3) Smells. I love my nose, and my olfactory nerves. They are so awesome. How could you live your life not being able to smell anything? Springtime is the best smelling thing. It is the smell...OF LIFE (you have to say that "of life" in a real deep raspy voice like Queensryche does in that one song). Freshly mowed grass. Trees of all kinds. Honeysuckle. Automobile exhaust (although not technically a "springtime" smell, seems really brought out when its warm). How utterly delightful!

4) You. You, my friend, are delightful. Do not let anyone else tell you different. If someone tries to verbally destroy you, you tell that monster, "I AM DELIGHTFUL." And then if they know who I am, you can say, "BECAUSE HOLDEN TOLD ME SO." And you can even say that if they don't know who I am, to add an element of confusion to it. Because, as we know, the best way to destroy your enemies is to confuse them. And while they're confused, you kick them in the shin. GAME SET MATCH.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Portapotties for Pam

Greetings. I'll be doing a list today. Everyone seems to enjoy lists...or do they?

1) If I don't get into the Physical Therapist Assistant program, this semester will have felt like the biggest waste of time ever. In all actuality, it won't really have been a waste of time, every class besides my "intro to PT" class is either a biology class or a PT school pre-requisuite. But it just FEELS like it. Also, if I don't get accepted, I will have thrown away like, 200 bucks on the whole application process, which isn't refundable for some odd reason. The end.

2) We have had THREE dogs for the past three days. Yes, three. We are taking care of my wife's friend's Jack Russell, who is cute and all scraggly, but he likes to pee on Emily's shoulder bag.

3) I have this unquenchable desire to learn. Nothing can satisfy it. Every second of every day, I want to be reading, studying something, learning about some new thing...I've been spending hours at my job on some website called Anatomy TV, which lets you look at 3D anatomical body models. You can look at any part of the body, rotate it around, look at specific parts like blood vessels, nerves, muscles, the brain, the heart, anything and everything. They have photographs of cadaver parts, slides, MRI pictures, explanations for every anatomical structure in the body. It's just incredible. This website is only accessible, apparently, to college students, and the lady at the library said that there can only be TWO websites of it open at one time, so if I'm going to get on there, I need to "make it quick so other people can have a chance to use it." So, taking her advice, I spent roughly four hours on it yesterday at work. Heh! Rebel! I'm weird, I know. The human body is just so amazing. I cannot fathom it. It is weird to think that only two years ago, I had no desire whatsoever like this. I think I wanted to play music or something for a living. In the words of Phil Connors, "What a waste of time!"

4) I decided I really like the song "There There" by Radiohead. And Maurice Ravel's first movement of his piano trio in A minor. Also, I like "Life in a Glass House," by Radiohead. Basically, I just like Radiohead. I know, how utterly original of me. Here's a shout out to the person who introduced me to Radiohead many years ago. You know who you are.

5) Hey, guess what everyone, everything matters. And everything ends.

6) Hey, guess what everyone, North Korea tried to launch a rocket, and it didn't really work. Ha ha! Maybe they should spend their money actually feeding their people instead of building crappy machinery that doesn't work and has no purpose.

7) I had a dream that I got in a fight with a bunch of kids, including a black girl who claimed to be an attorney, even though she was maybe like...18? And then I threw some old people down a hole. Man I don't know what the heck was going on.

8) Anybody watch that new NBC show "Awake"? Pretty trippy. There's this guy named Michael Britton who gets into a nasty car accident with his wife and son. He survives, but you're not sure who of his family survives, because he begins living two distinct realities, one in which his wife survived, and the other in which his son survived. I've never really had a favorite show to watch regularly, so this is just a new chapter in my life apparently. My sweet wife has agreed to watch it with me, so I have someone to discuss the show's mysteries with. You all don't have to watch it, I know you won't, but if NBC calls you and asks if you're watching it, just say yes, so they don't cancel it. Because I know, and you know, that they base all of their programming decisions on what YOU watch. Jerk.

9) If any of you want to join the Snobblepuss Book Club, just let me know. But if you join, there is no turning back. You MUST read "Creature from Jekyll Island," and no, that is not a science fiction book. YOU MUST DO YOUR REQUIRED READING.

10) There is no end to being, there is no death above.

Monday, April 9, 2012