Problems with the Avenger’s Theme, “Live to Rise”

Or, “The Sun is Not a Person, Please Report to First Grade Science Class.”

Last month The Avengers came to Netflix, and I’d like to celebrate by complaining about it. Let it first be said that the Avengers is among my favorite movies. In fact there’s very little to dislike about the Avengers, so I have settled on the theme song because I am grouchy and no one in Hollywood seems to know what they are doing and everything would be better if I were in charge.

I very much enjoyed the music of Soundgarden in the 90s, but then again I was a teenager in the 90s. And just like teenagers today, I was apparently deaf. It’s clear from the theme song Soundgarden created for the Avengers that the band has lost touch with music, the plot of Avengers, and the English language.

Here are some of the lyrics:

What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn’t you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,

We’re insane but not alone,
You hold on,
And they’re gone

Because I am a nerd and professional procrastinator (read: grad student) I have seen ‘Avengers’ roughly six hundred and fifteen billion times. In all that well-spent time, I haven’t seen a single plot point that could be described by the two verses above. The only thing in these lyrics that is related the movie’s themes is the line “You’re insane but not alone.” Because, you know, there’s more than one Avenger. So maybe Soundgarden wrote the song before the movie was actually produced; that’s fine, but it doesn’t excuse the following verses:

Like the sun we will live to rise,
Like the sun we will live and die,
And then ignite again,
Like the sun we will live to rise again

At this point I’d like to sit Soundgarden down and go over a few important science facts. First, the sun does not “live to rise.” For one thing, it is not alive. Admittedly, the sun rises fairly often (approximately once per day), but then again it sets exactly as often as it rises, so it could be said just as accurately that the sun lives to give up and go home. But even that would be slightly innacurate because (and I can’t stress this enough), the sun is not a person. The sun does not live and die. Admittedly we do, so that part of the metaphor holds up, but to the best of my knowledge we do not ‘ignite again.’ Not even those of us who practice the weirder eastern religions.

Remember that a big part of this movie is about being really good at science.

Most important of all, the sun does not ‘ignite again’ when it rises in the morning. I’m going to use bold letters to make this as clear as possible:

The sun is not extinguished whenever you can’t see it. It is just shining on someone else. You remember other people, right? They get to enjoy the sun when you aren’t using it.

What if the one thing that I missed,
Was everything I need to pass the test,
And if I fail what happens then,
Can I still count on you as a friend

I can see that the band is drawing on painful personal experience here; these are guys who have failed a few tests in their day.

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Google Contest for Children

The boldness of an elementary schooler goes tragically unrewarded.

Originally posted 5/21/2009 on a now-defunct wordpress blog

Google recently had a “doodle for google” contest, which drew entries from elementary schools across the country. The object was to redesign the logo; the theme was “What I Wish for the World.” Almost all the submissions had flower/sunshine themes, and titles like ‘Save the World,’ and ‘Care for the Flowers,’ which is the kind of thing adults want to believe that children think about. This is not true; I spent the last two years working with and talking to children, and they pretty much just think about toys.

This is the winning entry,”A New Beginning,” by Christin Engelberth:

Christin’s explanation is that this doodle “expresses [her] wish that in the current crisis discoveries will be made. That in these discoveries solutions will be found to help the Earth prosper once more.” Clearly, Christin hoped to impress the judges by pretending to be a socially conscious activist when she is, in fact, twelve. Her approach paid off, and google selected her doodle.

But here’s who should have won: young hero named Andrew Smith didn’t even think about what his teachers and the judges wanted him to wish for. Andrew Smith just drew what he thought would be awesome.

The resulting doodle is titled simply “Bring Back Dinosaurs”:

You can almost hear this kid going “Rawr, Raawr” while he draws it. To be honest, I go “Raawr” very quietly every time I look at it.

A noble sentiment, Andrew Smith. Bring back the Dinosaurs, indeed.

-James Gawley.

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