Apr. 8th, 2015

bubbleblower: cropped head shot of me with nebula background (Default)
Once again I've let the date slip longer than I should have, for a variety of small reasons that added up to major procrastination. So let's get something here so as to have something here.

One thing I noticed is that the song "Pack Up your Troubles in your Old Kit Bag" will be a hundred years old sometime this year (written in 1915, published a couple of years later). Need I mention that Wikipedia has an article on it?

The words basically encourage people to be happy, and it may at first glance seem like a good idea to teach at least the chorus to your children. But there are two problems.

First, when the song was written cigarette smoking was more generally accepted than it is now. Thus there is a line that more or less equates happiness with being able to smoke. We probably don't want children singing that.

The other problem is that the song might be hard for kids to understand because it is a century old and some of the words have changed meaning or fallen out of use since it was written.

However, when you look at the details one problem sort of cancels the other. The words that have changed meaning so the kids may not understand them are the ones that pertain to smoking, specifically the line about having a "Lucifer" to light your "fag". So maybe people will think it's just some kind of Satanic gay-bashing or something.

But that's still a problem. A few decades ago bad-mouthing homosexuals and consigning them to the Devil was at least somewhat acceptable. That has changed, at least in polite company.

So we may need to come up with a new line to replace the one about having Lucifers to light fags.

In a roughly similar vein, when the state of Kentucky made "My Old Kentucky Home" its official state song, they revised the lyrics to change "darkies" to "people". The revised version is what is sung at official state functions.

Mention of changing the words of songs reminds me of another thought I've had off and on over the years: Applying version and revision controls from the field of computer programming to the arts.

If, for example, a movie was available as originally shown in theaters, as well as in a director's cut, and maybe also a more "family-friendly" version with things like sex and violence toned down, these different cuts would be given version, revision, and/or distribution numbers. Those numbers would be on the label, so when you were considering making a purchase, whether online or in a physical store, you would know what you were getting. Interested parties could also refer to the database (perhaps paying for the privilege) to see exactly what had changed.

It should be possible to word the labels to differentiate the various versions without giving away too much of the plot to people who don't like "spoilers". Think of that as an engineering challenge.

Who would run this? Possibly some government agency, but more likely some sort of organization like Wikipedia or maybe the Internet Movie Database. That too can be worked out if people like the general idea.

What is probably the biggest problem is that some of the entities who have occasion to modify creative works such as movies or songs may not want it known that there are or were other versions on the market. I don't know how to counter that, except to point out similarities to the types of things done in the world of Orwell's _1984_, and to suggest that that kind of thing is not what we want in a free society.

The proposal is presently just a preliminary thought. Many questions will need to be answered. I'm hoping the answers will emerge over time as it is discussed more and more widely.

Your thoughts?
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