Facebook-fiends-and-Twitterists? “I’ve got them on the list.”


Believe it or not, this post is about education leadership, or it’s lack.

It is said that Gerald Ford once said of Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,”

“Anybody who can’t keep his enemies in his head has too many enemies.”

Richard Nixon, had he acknowledged the sentiment, probably could have devised a way to pare his list not exactly in keeping with Gerald Ford’s good-guy intentions.  More than one way to pare a list, if you know what I mean.

My mind wandered off to enemies lists when I discovered this week that one of our former administrators had actually kept lists of teachers — and probably other support people — and threatened more than one with “placement on the list.”

What school of school leadership taught that?  The Monty Python School of How KnNot to Do It?

English: 1919 D'Oyly Carte Opera Company publi...

1919 D’Oyly Carte Opera Company publicity poster for The Mikado, featuring the character of the Lord High Executioner. Illustration by J. Hassal.

The only appropriate response when learning of such a list is to ask, “Who appointed you Lord High Executioner?”

Do you disagree?  Lists of enemies do not denote the great leader.  They denote someone who either saw “The Mikado” and missed all the jokes, or didn’t bother to see the thing at all.  Who can follow someone who doesn’t know the jokes from “Mikado,” and consequently, falling victim to the trap warned of by Santayana’s Ghost, falls right into the trap?

It’s silly.  It’s lampooned well enough in Gilbert and Sullivan‘s masterpiece of bureaucracy farce that any leader, even a Modern Major General, would know better than to do it.

Notice I did NOT say, “know better than to let it be known that the list existed.”  I said “know better than to do it.

What’s that?   You are unfamiliar with the song of which I speak?  Here, watch Opera Australia show how it’s done (at least, how it’s done Down Under where there are, unbelievable as it may be, climate denialists and people who are obnoxious about Facebook and Twitter):

DVD Available Now: http://bit.ly/HCzeWc

Mitchell Butel of Avenue Q fame sings “I’ve Got a Little List” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. This excerpt is from the cinema/DVD recording of Opera Australia’s 2011 production at the Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Lyrics:
As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list. I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground
And who never would be missed, who never would be missed.

There’s the idiot denouncing with enthusiastic tone
All football teams but his and every suburb but his own.
The man who sits beside you on the plane and wants to talk,
Whose jabbering inspires you to jab him with your fork.
Your aunty with the moustache who insists on being kissed.
They’d none of them be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

(He’s got them on the list! He’s got them on the list!
And they’d none of them be missed! They’d none of them be missed!)

Those whinging letter writers and those pundits in the press.
That opinion columnist, that bore would not be missed.
That trendy thing in opera if the plot seems like a mess,
That nice surtitlist!
(Surtitles: ‘This song is not on my list. Normal transmission will resume shortly’)
The politician prancing round in speedos tightly packed,
He thought it cool but really it just showed us what he lacked.
And Canberra’s leading red-head who’s afraid of stickybeaks,
Who’d like to keep her fumbles and mistakes off Wikileaks.
Australian Idol singers who pathetically persiiiiiiiiiist.
They’d none of them be missed. They’d none of them be missed.

(He’s got them on the list! He’s got them on the list!
And they’d none of them be missed! They’d none of them be missed!)

And the purists who insist piano music stops at Brahms,
I’ll put them on the list, and make them sit through Liszt.
On Saturday night the mob at Flinder’s Street all singing psalms,
I wish they would desist, and their happy claps resist.
That music theatre sequel that they promised would be good,
“Love never dies” they say, but I confess I wish it would.
That Frenchman and the other one who judge My Kitchen Rules,
Who give new definition to the label ‘Kitchen Tools’.
That morning television host who’s funny as a cyst,
Gold Logies he has kissed, but it’s time to kiss my fist.

(He’s got them on the list! He’s got them on the list!
And they’d none of them be missed! They’d none of them be missed!)

Then the merchant banker wankers and the bonuses they flout,
And the subprimortgagist, I’ve got him on the list!
The governments like lapdogs rushing in to bail them out,
To their mills it’s simply grist, so I’ve got them on the list.
Retirees who migrate to the country to make wine,
And Britney Spears for accidentally showing her ‘vagine’.
Those climate change deniers who don’t like the carbon tax,
Who haven’t read the science and don’t really know the facts.
The women on the tram who at Spring Carnaval got pi– really drunk!
Narelle! Where are my shoes?!
They’d none of them be missed. They’d none of them be missed.

(You may put them on the list. You may put them on the list.
And they’d none of them be missed! They’d none of them be missed!)

There’s the ticket holder next to you who cannot work their phone,
And cannot get the gist. I’ve got her on the list!
Who leaves it on or switches to that dreadful silent drone… Vrrrrrr Vrrrrr Vrrrrr
Facebook fiends and Twitterists are also on the list.
And people who inflict on us full cycles of the Ring,
I’d rather ride a valkyrie than hear Brunhilde sing.
And all commercial managements who want to cast a star,
They couldn’t get one this time, they got me, so there you are.
Or worst of all the actor who’s an extra lyricist,
I don’t think he’d be missed, so I’ve got him on the list.

(You may put them on the list! You may put them on the list!
And they’d none of them be missed! They’d none of them be missed!)

Your shock at Gilbert and Sullivan’s sounding so astonishingly contemporary comes through even the internet.  How could they know?

I’m not sure what the original script said, having never done that particular operetta.  Somewhere, the practice  arose to have someone spice up the lyric to this tune, to the times, to the city in which the operetta is performed, and to thezeitgeist of the audience.  Fans of G&S wait to see what and whom the “supplemental lyricist,” or “extra lyricist” poked at.

Even composers of silly operetta tunes understand that what is said, and what is done, needs to be molded to the local circumstances — and that in no case should a bureaucrat keep a list of enemies.

Compare Opera Australia’s version with that of the venerable G&S troupe, D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, about 20 years earlier, 1990 or 1992, on BBC2, in London:

Of course, you may think by my lampooning of list makers that I, myself, should be on some list.  Aye, there’s the rub.

Take a look and listen to Eric Idle’s version of the song from th 1987 English National Opera production, with which Opera Australia may wish to take some exception.

In the English speaking world, wherever the works of Gilbert and Sullivan exist in book, on the stage, in oratorio, on record, tape, CD, DVD or Blu-Ray, people know leaders become comic fops instead when they make “a little list” of the names of the people they wish to be rid of.

Educated people know that.  Education people should know that, too.

More (not necessarily endorsed by Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub):

 

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5 Responses to Facebook-fiends-and-Twitterists? “I’ve got them on the list.”

  1. […] “Facebook-fiends-and-Twitterists: ‘I’ve got them on the list’” […]

    Like

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Ellie, hope you enjoy it!

    The Mikado enriched our American culture in thousands of tiny ways, all of them for the good.

    Like

  3. Ellie says:

    Thanks to you, Ed, I was inspired to do another search for the DVD I wanted, and I found a very nice used copy. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with the topic, but thanks anyway.

    Like

  4. Porlock Junior says:

    Actually, before the wholesale replacement of the words, the undesirable line had started to be rendered “The banjo [nb: 2 syllables] serenader and the others of his race.” Also in the Mikado’s song, we learn that

    The lady who dyes a chemical yellow, or stains her gray hair puce,
    Or pinches her figger
    Is painted with vigor
    With permanent walnut juice.

    These lines are in the ancient 1950-ish D’Oyly Carte recording.

    I wonder how the Mikado’s punishments are rendered in modern-day Britain. I seem to have forgotten what the treatment was the last time it was performed around here, west of the West.

    The massive rewriting of lyrics seems to be less common out here, where we insert some topical references but mainly stick to the Received Text; it seems we’re more traditionalist than they are in Old Blighty. I think this works better, and the examples here confirm my judgment. Inserting a few outrageous lines puts one under less strain to be another Gilbert, to which hardly anyone can live up.

    Up to which hardly anyone can live.

    Like

  5. Ellie says:

    I certainly agree with your post.

    On the song: You will rarely (probably never) hear the original words, as they contained a racially offensive phrase that was removed by companies doing the musical way back in the 1940’s. It is a tradition to change the words to both reflect the times, and to include the places in which the musical is performed. My favorite production was at the Stratford Festival (Canada) in 1982. I’m still on the search for an affordable DVD. I love the “Facebook fiends and twitterists.” It really fits the song.

    Like

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