Monday, November 1, 2010

American history, punk rock, and a little bit of Foucault...

(So Blogger doesn't support audio hosting and I couldn't find this song on YouTube or anywhere else, so I had to make a Tumblr and host it on there. Anyway, if you want to know what I'm talking about in this post, follow this link and listen to this song: "The Corrupt Bargain," from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.)

Anyway, on to the actual post:

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a weird thing for rock musicals, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the newest Broadway show in that category, is no exception. The show tells the life story of our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, through punk rock and a little imaginative storytelling (in other words, don't expect to find this expletive-laced version of events in any American history textbook).

I've always liked "The Corrupt Bargain" for two reasons: 1) it's really amusing and 2) it's fairly accurate to what most people perceive the Corrupt Bargain of the Election of 1824 to be. Basically, the myth is that Andrew Jackson lost to John Quincey Adams when the presidential election went to the House of Representatives not because Adams actually won, but because Henry Clay convinced the House to vote for Adams once Adams agreed to appoint Clay to be Secretary of State.

I know it's confusing. It's a little less confusing in song.

Why is this relevant? Because somewhere in the middle of the song is the line, "I'm sure Michel Foucault would have an opinion, but he hasn't been born yet." We haven't gotten to Foucault in the Norton yet (and we won't until next week), but the song begs the question: What would Foucault have to say about this bit of American history? And what might he say about our current discourse about the Election of 1824? We are making punk rock songs about it and putting them into a Broadway show, after all.

Just some food for thought. And some music from my massive random collection for when you feel like procrastinating on whatever paper you have to do.


  1. He would describe this election as an event/phantasm, I think. Just MHO tho.

  2. My students, always with the edgy. Kate, I'm at work, which means I need to pretend to be appropriate and not allow various explicatives to be broadcast from my computer speakers. I'll give all of this a listen at home, though.

    For now, Anonymous, if that is your real name, seems to be onto something, methinks.

  3. Okay, I've listened, and I think Foucault might wonder about how and why punk rock has become so encompassing in it's scope. Panopticon is the word that comes to mind. Why is protest consistently subject to the all-powerful trappings of punk?

    None of these questions make a whole lot of sense. After all, though, Foucault wrote in French, and I don't really know what he said.