I'm writing on a fast-approaching deadline and playing music to quicken the pace. Pat Benatar's "Shadows of the Night" has come on. I have to admit, I have a certain fondness for the music of Pat Benatar. Always have. Her songs have one quality in particular that I used aggravate me, but in which I have since come to revel: their total, utter vaguness.
Since this is a movie-related blog, consider the lyrics from "Invincible," her anthem from The Legend of Billie Jean. Or this, from her hit single "Love is a Battlefield:"
We are young, heartache to heartache we stand;
No promises, no demands;
Love is a battlefield.
In college, I belonged to a society (translation: co-ed fraternity) that held a "Pretentious Poetry Night" once a semester. I always recited Pat Benatar lyrics. Not because they're pretentious; if anything, they're the opposite. They operate on such a basic, gut-level, they don't even make plain who the object of all our rockin' out angst is supposed to be. "Who is it we're actually mad at?," I have often wanted to ask her, "Parents? Teachers? Significant Others? Who?" It was during one such Pretentious Poetry Night that I hatched the title for my as-yet unwritten treatise on Pat Benatar:
Don't go thinking this is a put-down. Despite--or indeed, perhaps because of--the vagueness that attends said rage, Pat Benatar's music remains very awesome, and, I think, very American. Because in the quintessential Pat Benatar song, it doesn't matter who our enemy is; it matters only that we have one. That's how we define ourselves: against that which we are not, or better yet, against that which we are not and which really pisses us off.
Further evidence for Pat Benatar's coolness: not long ago, she played a Walk for Breast Cancer fundraiser in which my wife participated. Pat Benatar played "Invincible." My wife, reporting on the hardness with which Pat Benatar rocked so hard, told me that when Benatar sang,
We can't afford to be innocent;
Stand up and face the enemy;
It's a do or die situation;
We will be invincible
the crowd, made up of survivors, loved ones of survivors, loved ones of those battling or lost to cancer, and people passionate about finding a cure, was galvanized. It was as if the song was written for the cause.
So maybe not so vague after all.