June 16, 2014

Book of Happy - Prologue: A Crime in Teheran

All around the world people had been doing it.  From Bucharest to Bahrain to Beijing, people made "happy in..." videos, dancing in their local communities to Pharrell Williams' song, catching its infectious spirit and expressing a little bit of individualism, good humor, and even, in extreme cases, apparent existential joy.

Didn't have room for Berlin, but it's good too

Williams and the industry were caught by surprise.  Written on commission for the movie Despicable Me 2, "Happy" had no big commercial buildup, no media buy, no Twitter campaign.  Radio didn't want it.  It lost the Oscar to Disney's ponderous, anti-musical screed "Let it Go".

And then the videos blew up, and radio started playing it, and one thing led to another, and soon Pharrell found himself at the apex of the entertainment universe, crying on Oprah.  

Meanwhile, in Tehran, criminal proceedings were underway:
The women did not cover their heads with the required hijab. At times, the men and women danced together, which is forbidden and punishable under the law...  [T]he police found it offensive. Iran state media called it "vulgar."
For one tyrant, at least, this inoffensive pop ditty expresses something deeply wrong with the world.

Think I'll play it again.

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