Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Creepy by association: American Girl



Tom Petty's "American Girl" has been in the news lately as he demanded that Republican "presidential candidate" and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann stop using it as her entrance music during events. Uber-conservatives are creepy enough on their own without having to use a song from one of the greatest suspense thrillers ever made.

We're talking "Silence of the Lambs," a film near and dear to me, that I can honestly say my wife likes, too.

Of course, it was her who said that any woman who hears "American Girl" while driving alone at night instantly gets a bit freaked out.

"American Girl" has a life of its own, which makes this Creepy by Association even better. The song debuted on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1977 debut album and soon had its own urban legend around it. Some thought the song was about a girl who jumped to her death in Gainesville, Fla., but Petty has refuted that claim. The songs has been used in multiple films and by Hillary Clinton (which Petty had no issue with).

The association to "Silence of the Lambs," however, is strong. It is used to set up the kidnapping of Catherine Martin, daughter of a senator (Sen. Martin dresses in a fashionable pants suit not unlike those seen adorning Secretary of State Clinton). It's dark outside but Catherine is cruising, tapping her steering wheel and singing along before she encounters Buffalo Bill and spends the next few days in a pit.

"American Girl" isn't the creepiest song in "Silence of the Lambs." That honor belongs to "Goodbye Horses," by Q Lazzarus.



You thought I'd show Buffalo Bill tucking his junk, didn't you? This is a family website, people. (Actually, I just didn't want to have to watch it. Even I get a little creeped out.)

Maybe someday, candidates will think a bit harder about the songs they choose to represent themselves. Ronald Reagan, the modern Republican's role model, used the anti-Vietnam song "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen during his 1984 campaign. Of course, the internet and Twitter and 24-hour news didn't really exist back then.

While I'm at it, you know who else is creepy? Michele Bachmann.

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