Look, I know what you’re thinking. Swing’It is clearly the Worst Song of the national final season because it is an unwelcome return of electroswing.
Didn’t the dismal performance of Still In Love With You teach people this kind of thing wasn’t acceptable?
But I could skip it on playlists and mute the channel without difficulty.
No, what really grinds my gears about Prohibition is that it’s just plain historically inaccurate.
Should I expect an accurate history lesson from a surfer who looks like he’s accidentally wandered into a Great Gatsby cosplay?
No, probably not. But I’m not the one who wrote this song!
The lyrics in question that get me are the following:
There’s no ambition
Dance into the night
They took away our rights
We’re on a mission
To keep it out of sight, I’ll tell you why
‘Cause we’ll never stop to fight for what is right
The politicians took away your rights? What rights? The right to get shiftfaced in an anachronistic flapper party? Buddy, jog on.
In reality, Norway’s prohibition of alcohol of the post World War I era (which still allowed for the sale and consumption of beer and most wine) was actually the result of a democratic referendum. 61 percent of voters approved the ban on sales of certain alcohol. And when these restrictions proved to have significant negative effects, another referendum was held in 1926, where 55 percent of voters opted to remove restrictions. So it seems like it’s less the politicians who have taken away your so-called rights than your neighbours, hmmm?
(Side note: Based on the last line of that lryic, it looks like Swing’It wouldn’t have even bothered to vote in either referendum. They’ll never stop to fight, meaning they just let things go by. It’s a lyric distinct from “we’ll never stop fighting for what is right.” And if you think I’m being nitpicky about a band speaking in a second language, at least two of the songwriters are from the UK, so have no excuse. )
“Oh,” I hear Swing’It’s detractors piping up. “They’re not talking about Norwegian prohibition. They’re talking about AMERICAN prohibition.” And that’s even dumber. Do you know how much work it takes to amend the Constitution? Prohibition passed with a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress and then received the approval of 36 state legislatures. The Temperance movement has significant popular support, with the activism driven by women. Indeed, there was a strong women’s rights angle to Prohibition, as the impacts of problem drinking often fell on the wives and families of alcoholics who had to deal with domestic abuse and poverty.
Now, one might argue that the Volstead Act, which was the legislative mechanism to carry out Prohibition once the Amendment was ratified, was too onerous. But there’s still no “right” to consume alcohol. And while I’d love to be proven wrong, I don’t think our Norwegian friends are au fait with the legislative history of this 1919 American bill.
And this is what makes me angriest – if you’re going to put so much effort into ‘recreating’ the 1920s, you should at least do some goddamn research. Instead, you pop on a Tommy Shelby flat cap, grab a trombone, and voila! You’ve got a speakeasy starter kit! Except that you don’t. If you’re not going to take the time to research your historical reenactments, why not just become a ska band instead?