Friday, February 06, 2009

COLUMN: Ashley Madison

I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment.

By saying this, I'm trying to make you think that I am a freedom crusader -- a Champion of Human Rights, Defender of Liberty, and a Guy You Might Seriously Want To Date. In honesty, though, I say it simply to justify how much I like crass, off-color entertainment.

Not to say that I'm some kind of sleaze aficionado or anything, but hey. Were it not for the First Amendment, I wouldn't be able to laugh myself silly watching South Park every week. I wouldn't be able to entertain the masses via DJ sets of amusingly vulgar dance music. And I certainly wouldn't be able to enjoy Carol Alt's centerfold spread in last month's Playboy, which I clearly bought just for the articles.

The point is, it's kinda cool that we live in a country where we can, within reason, pretty much say anything we feel like.

For instance, let's say that I was of the opinion that someone out there was a total doodiehead. Let's pick a name at random -- oh, I dunno, how about, umm, Tom Cruise. I could, within the confines of this newspaper column, state with bold authority that I am of the opinion that Tom Cruise is a big ol' doodiehead.

Granted, I have to state it as my OPINION. Were I to state it as fact, it could be construed as libel, thus opening the doors for Tom "Doodiehead" Cruise to sue me blind. Hmm, but then we'd then have to enter a protracted legal battle wherein I can only assume that a team of high-priced lawyers would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a public forum that Tom Cruise's head is NOT, in fact, made of doodie -- a scene which COULD be worth losing my job and a few million dollars over.

Of course, there's a down side to everything, even the First Amendment. The fact that I support the rights of the Sopranos to swear like sailors on my TV also means that I have to support the free speech rights of idiots like that hate-spewing Fred Phelps and his crazy redneck relatives when they protest funerals. That I have to put up with supporters of California's inane Proposition 8. That I have to take a deep breath and realize that some people actually enjoy listening to Dr. Laura. Ah well - I can rest high on my laurels and hope that perhaps one day we'll all be judged by a power higher than the FCC. Personally, I prefer to believe that if there IS a supreme being, he/she's got a wicked sense of humor -- how else to explain the platypus?

But recently, I've found another entity worthy of wishing selective freedom on, and it all started on my drive in to work the other day. On the morning commute, my satellite radio is usually turned to Howard Stern. Sure, his show can be juvenile, puerile, and downright tacky, but at 8:45 a.m., my brain's not even up to 33-1/3rd rpm, and that's about the right speed for Stern's mix of flatulence jokes and lowbrow comedy.

But a new sponsor has been advertising on his show. It's a website -- and it's entire essence is so seedy, lecherous, and immoral that even someone like me with a high tolerance of tacky has a hard time stomaching.

I didn't even want to name it for fear of giving the sleazy empire free advertising, but for the sake of the First Amendment, I'll do it - just promise me you won't go there or give them a dime. It's the innocently-named

Here's the basic business premise: You're married but you're a slimeball who wants to cheat on your spouse. Just fill out a profile and Ashley Madison will help you find like-minded scumbags in your area. Presto, instant adultery. The site's proud motto? "Life is short. Have an affair." In fact, if you sign up and DON'T have a successful affair within 90 days, they'll refund your $249 membership fee.

In a word? Eww. In several words? For perhaps the first time in my life, I think I might be morally outraged. I mean, come on. This makes the "Girls Gone Wild" dude seem like an upstanding citizen. I wanted to invoke my First Amendment rights by just printing the names of every loser in our area with a profile, but (a) I didn't have $249 handy, and (b) thankfully, there are 0 profiles in the Quad Cities.

Worse still was the realization that I was sitting at work the other day absent-mindedly humming the site's catchy jingle. "Ashley Madison, find your lovers heere, Ashley Madison, find your lovers heeeere." Sure, I'd heard the ad on the radio a couple times, but there was something about the tune that struck a chord. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd heard it before someplace. What WAS it?

That's when it dawned on me. Not only is this the creepiest website EVER, but its jingle has the unmitigated gall to rip the tune 100% off of... "Lolly Lolly Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here," the old Saturday morning "Schoolhouse Rock" anthem. The melody that taught my entire generation how to modify a verb now teaches us how to modify our moral compass. Adverbs now seem dirty. I'm not just repulsed -- I'm now rapidly, efficiently, and effectively repulsed here, there, and everywhere.

Most disturbing is the realization that apparantly your neighborhood left-wing liberal hipster newspaper columnist has the occasional conservative tendency (shudder.) Or maybe I've just got common sense. Either way, I hope the old hippie dude who wrote those "Schoolhouse Rock" songs figures it out and sues Ashley Madison's pants off. Just because we have the blessed freedom of speech doesn't mean we should use it to become a country of degenerates.


LSD said...

I heard the Ashley Madison jingle for the first time today, and was struck by how much it sounded like the Schoolhouse Rock adverb song! Just was searching the internet to find an example of the Madison jingle, so I could show my girlfriend.

brianmacian said...

Hi there! I can't believe I waited so long to Google blogs and websites addressing this issue. I heard it again this morning and told my fiancee that it makes me a little mad every morning.

The worst part of this to me is that some turdblossom decided it would be easy to rip off something probably nobody is going to challenge them on. If I agreed with AM mission statement, I could have composed something better.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the exact same similarity the first time I heard the jingle. Now it's the morning of Jan 4th, 2010, and Ashley Madison has flat-out written a jingle unmistakenly using the SHR song "Interjections!" Wonder if it was part of a informal settlement agreement.

Anonymous said...

It's not a free speech issue when someone is stealing your music and using it to sell their product. You need a legal agreement to do that--so don't feel like you're being conservative.

This made me so angry I tracked down the composer and emailed her website. The webmaster replied and said that she didn't hold the copyright to the song, but she was forwarding the email to the Schoolhouse Rock producers. Maybe they'll sue the pants off of the ashley madison people. Hope so, anyway!

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting because Disney actually owes the rights to the Schoolhouse Rock material and they usually are very quick to sue.