So recently I picked up season 2 of the Muppet Show. I was sitting there, watching Rowlf playing Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, and I was struck by a realization:
This is the most recent thing I’ve seen which uses that song with sincerity.
Yes, most things in the Muppet Show are spoofed, but Rowlf is something of an exception – they’ll do interruptions, oddities, candelabras blasting off into orbit and other weird stuff, but usually his song is intended seriously, possibly because he was considered to be the Muppet closest to Jim Henson. (Or because he made an excellent straight, um, dog compared to Fozzie’s limited intelligence, Gonzo’s weirdness or Sam the Eagle’s smugness.)
I’m serious here. Tvtropes lists nearly twenty things which have used What a Wonderful World in an ironic or sarcastic manner. Even kid’s movies have done it. And it got me wondering, have we gotten too freaking cynical? We take this song intended to inspire hope (albeit “things look like crap, but look, it’s not all bad” hope), and we use it to emphasize bleak and hopeless moments – again and again and again? Come on! At least find new uplifting songs to abuse in this fashion! Don’t keep throwing the same song back in our teeth. It’s making the song lose its impact as an uplifting piece and as an ironic counterpoint.
Or, better yet, go back to using the song to point out the light in the darkness, like it was supposed to do. Not to wave a hand and say “hey look, it’s so freaking dark.”
– OSM out