Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Thing Money Can't Buy


Last night, Ian decided he wanted to watch an episode of The Simpsons before bed. We had DVR'd the episode "The Old Man and the C Student" - in which Bart takes Grandpa and the other seniors in the Old Foax Home on an unscheduled outing - so Ian and I watched that together.

When Bart and the old foax exit the home, the show launches into an homage to/parody of the famous scene in A Hard Day's Night where the Beatles temprarily break out of the prison of their fame1 and run around idiotically in an empty field outside the studio they were trapped in2. The soundtrack for these antics is "Can't Buy Me Love"3.

The Simpsons parody nicely recaptures some of the iconic images from that scene:

Now, Ian kinda knows the song "Can't Buy Me Love" because his Old Dad is such a Beatles-head - but it occurred to me that 10-year-old Ian certainly would in no way comprehend what this scene was referencing. How could he? He's never even seen AHDN.

So I paused the DVR and said: "Hey Ian, did you know that this part of the show is kinda making fun of a Beatles movie?"

"The Simpsons were in a Beatles movie?"

(*Sigh* I guess that's better than "Who are the Beatles?")

"No, but a way long time ago, the Beatles made a movie called A Hard Day's Night, and there was a scene in it just like this one. That's what they're doing here - they're making fun of that."


This was a better response than, "Who cares?", which Ian would, at this point, have had every right to ask. I belatedly realized that he really didn't need to know what this Simpsons scene was referencing to enjoy it. So I kinda just dropped it - told him it really didn't matter.

I did, however, manage to get him to understand an different reference in the same episode: I explained to him why the old guy, Jasper, said "You sunk my battleship!" every time a number was called out during Bingo at the Old Foax Home. (Ian has the electronic version of Battleship. It actually sucks far worse than the old non-electronic version that has been around since I was a kid because the electronic version takes forever to set up - and then it doesn't work right.)

When Ian got that reference - which he hadn't, at first - he thought it was hilarious. He kept laughing and  trying to say, "You sunk my battleship!" in a gravelly Jasper voice because "It's only funny when old people say it, Daddy!" he explained to me.

1 The "plot" of A Hard Day's Night - insofar as it can be said to have one - is kinda A Day in the Life of The Beatles during the Height of Beatlemania ... with the added twist that Paul's Grandfather is along for the ride because "'e's nursin' a broken 'eart." But at one point, Paul's Grandfather grouses: "Look, I thought I was supposed to be getting a change of scenery. But so far, I've been in a train and a room, and a car and a room, and a room and a room" - he's sharing the claustrophobic existence of four young men who are so famous they dare not venture outside lest they be mobbed by fans.

(Norm [the Beatles' manager]: The place is surging with girls!
John: Please, sir, sir, can I have one to surge me, sir, please, sir?
Norm: No, you can't!)

2 George's sarcastic "Sorry we hurt your field, mister!" at the end of the scene - said to the old guy who informs the boys that they're on private property - was always, for some reason, one of my all-time favorites lines from the film, which is just chock full of great lines and scenes.

3 "CBML"would be used again in the film, during the Keystone Kops-like chase sequence near the end.John had written "I'll Cry Instead" for the film - possibly for this very sequence - but the director, Dick Lester, didn't like the song, so they just used "Can't Buy me Love" again. "I'll Cry Instead" is a pretty up-tempo song, but I'm not sure it would have worked in either sequence, mostly because of the lyrics, which are a bit of a downer. Clich├ęd, yes - but still a downer.

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