zw1: good riddance

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road . . .”  

Thus beginneth “Good Riddance,” perhaps the most poignant poetry penned by the great Billie Joe Armstrong in the early post-Dookie period. Official statistics are difficult to come by, but it is estimated that if you graduated from high school between 1998 and 2001, there is a 73.67% chance that THIS was your class song. If you throw out the 1999 grads (who seemed rather fond of Prince’s “1999”), that number swells to 98.97%. A recent study found that GED candidates from the same time period were similarly partial to the tune: nearly 80% would have chosen the song (or its equivalent) as their class song if they had been allowed a class song. It was even determined that a majority of students who dropped out of high school between 1998 and 2001 can sing along with the chorus if you get them started . . .  

“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.”  


Green Day Nimrod


“Good Riddance” is perhaps more widely known by its parenthetical title, “Time of Your Life.” It’s hard to say, in fact, which is the more obscure piece of pop-music trivia: that the song’s actual title is “Good Riddance” or that it was released on an album entitled “Nimrod.” {not as self-effacing as “Dookie,” but still a pretty great album title}  You can read more about the song here, and can learn more about the Mesopotamian monarch here.  

Green Day, in general, and Billie Joe Armstrong, in specific, do not own the phrase “the time of your life.”  But this is largely because intellectual property law doesn’t work like real property law.  Most of the time anyway.  If it did, you might see Tré Cool filing an adverse possession claim in the near future.  

Tre Cool

Tré Cool, Esq.

{I postulate that Cool is the legal mastermind of the trio.  He is, after all, the only human being known to have climbed the MTV globe at Universal Studios and suffer no legal consequences.  Some say the DA is a Green Day fan, but others are quick to point out that lawyers have little or no interest in art/music/literature/humanity/etc.  If the DA turned a blind eye to Cool’s cool caper, it was likely because he feared Tré’s formidable courtroom presence and fiery litigation prowess.  This is the man who burns his drum set at the end of every show.  He would surely have a field day during cross-examination.}  

In advertising, cultural context is everything.  In American culture, Green Day has taken the phrase “the time of your life” and connected it with feelings of bittersweet nostalgia and memories of high school graduations.  Any advertiser worth his or her proverbial salt knows that using the phrase in advertising will evoke a certain melancholy from the reader.  Which brings me (at long last) to the facebook ad this is suppost to be about.  


the zoo world manifesto

Zoo World

viktor the ventriloquist hyena

Let us begin with the ad’s headline query: “Have You Laughed Lately?”  A fair question—and less insulting in tone than “AGE 27 AND DRIVING?” (cf part 1 of beyond cavemen).   The ramifications of my answer, however, are somewhat unclear.  I can begin by assuming that this ad is asking the question as a means of introducing some product or silly facebook app to change my personal situation.  After all, if I’m only interested in maintaining the status quo, I needn’t rock the boat by clicking on some ad.  Moving forward in this light, I consider the two possibilities.  If I say, “No, I have not laughed lately,” perhaps this ad is for a product to make me laugh.  Possible.  But what if I HAVE laughed lately?  Perhaps this ad is for something downright unfunny, something to wipe that grin off my recently-laughing face. {Some might uncomfortably shy away from this second possibility, assuming that a brightly-coloured cartoon would never appear in an ad for something unfunny.  If you find yourself in this camp, I refer you to shotgun approach: the tiki farmer and the dreamin’ demon should be friends.}  

The text of the ad asserts that “There are no sad faces in Zoo World,”  offering, as a reference, “this laughing hyena!”  Examining the picture, however, it is difficult to determine exactly what kind of faces these animals have.  The text tells us they are not “sad” faces, but they don’t exactly appear to be “happy” faces either.  They seem relatively expressionless, to be perfectly honest.  From a strictly logical standpoint, if the faces are expressionless, they are not sad faces.  I’m not sure I’m willing to give this advertiser the benefit of my doubt, however, so I consider the reference given, “this laughing hyena!”  

Perhaps my skill at artistic interpretation is lacking, but this hyena does not appear to be laughing at all.  I was unable to complete an exhaustive search, but from the photographic and film evidence I surveyed, it appears that hyenas generally laugh with their mouths open.  It’s pretty gross-looking, actually.  The hyena in this cartoon, however, seems perfectly tight-lipped.  Perhaps he is a ventriloquist hyena.  That would be cool.  But the ad doesn’t tell us anything about ventriloquism.  And I’m pretty sure the incidence of naturally-occurring ventriloquism in the Feliformia suborder is relatively low. 

I don’t buy the assertion and I don’t trust the source . . . this ad is beginning to smack of propaganda.  Who can forget, after all, the well-intentioned pigs Snowball and Napoleon, whose idealistic philosophy was summed up in a similarly bold assertion: “All animals are  equal.”  Yet the inexorable effect of political power corrupted the fledgling government of Animal Farm, and the seventh commandment rang ever-hollower.  “All animals are equal,” was parroted until the proverbial cows came home, until it became so divorced from reality that amendment was required.  The new commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”  I believe George Orwell would join in my prognostication: it is only a matter of time before “there are no sad faces in Zoo World,” becomes “there are no sad faces in Zoo World, but some faces are less not-sad than others.”  

Finally, we arrive at the ad’s harrowing conclusion: “play now and have the time of your life!”  The weight of cultural context pushing down on us like ten tons of dookie, we cannot feel anything but pathos and melancholy when we read these words.  If I do as the ad asks, and play NOW, I will have the time of my life NOW.  And what comes after the time of my life?  The time of my afterlife.  A chill runs up my spine as I look upon this tiny bird’s supposedly not-sad face.  I now see Zoo World for what it really is: a violent game of political conquest and control. 

5 thoughts on “zw1: good riddance

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