Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Bremen Town Musicians

Has anyone heard this story, the Bremen town musicians? It was one of my favourite stories as a kid. The long and short of it is, this donkey is mistreated by his masters and leaves home to go to Bremen where he would become a famous singer. Along the way he meets other mistreated animals; a dog, a cat and a rooster and they all get together and decide they're going to form a band.

The brilliance of this story is, although it's clear to the reader how awful the sound of a donkey, a cat, a rooster and a dog singing in concert would sound, the animals think they're amazing. Was their band doomed to failure? Well, fate would have it that they came to a house that was filled with robbers, and the sound of these animals was so terrible, the robbers thought the house was haunted and they fled. The animals quickly abandonned the idea of being a band and decided to spend the rest of their days in this house that was full of food.
Now there is something very prophetic about this. I mean, isn't that what the world is like today? Incidental success? Take something like American Idol. Are these singers necessarily the most amazing singers around? In my opinion, very rarely. However, they are marketable sometimes because of looks or style or something else that isn't necessarily musical. Take even William Hung. He couldn't sing at all, but he enjoyed a good year or so of fame. How did George Bush become president? Because he is an inspiring leader? No, he just talked a good talk made people afraid of terrorists. What does Paris Hilton do for anyone? Nothing! Lindsay Lohan may or may not be a good actress, but the only time we hear about her is when she's doing something terrible.

Why is it that we're not drawn to talent anymore? Just as the Bremen Town Musicians wanted to become rich and famous singers, it was initially their ability to inspire fear that prospered them. Similarly, people in the media nowadays have to manipulate our fear, our lust and sometimes our insatiable desire to mock people. Is it our destiny to be manipulated by our most base emotions?
This of course brings hope to me. I mean, if I can become succesful just by bringing out the worst in people, I'm as good as rich. It seems like only yesterday that I was provoking a waiter. He seemed to think I was implying that he couldn't speak english when I asked him to divide the bill into 3 so everyone at the table could pay seperately. The point is, I wasn't even trying then! I could say, make a television sitcom where I'm a Ninja living with my adopted daughter and a lawyer. The premise is ridiculous, but if I just make it a point to make the show as racist, lewd and offensive as possible, I'll get all the attention I need to fill my bank account with much needed money. The show will be called, My Ninja Dad.
Regardless, those animals are so darned cute. I wonder if my mom still has that book? Here's an online version of the story. I think this is a softcore version whereby the animals aren't being abused, but it's still fun.