Sometimes the tone-deafness of our visual artists and performers is breathtaking. While digging up this old clip featuring the Smurfs meeting their Just Reward, I was reminded of another anti-war work that had precisely the opposite effect.
In the 80s, it was popular for performers, pundits and laypersons to prophesy that war—particularly a full-blown nuclear apocalypse—was just around the corner, courtesy of that madman in the White House, Ronald Wilson Reagan. As a young lad I used to believe that it was so—until I did my own research into the various iterations of U.S. nuclear strategy, coming to the conclusion that global nuclear war was about as likely as a classmate killing someone under the influence of Dungeons & Dragons.
Nonetheless, it was a big deal among the celebrity class back then, and many were convinced that President Reagan would be the death of us all. I can recall the exact moment I switched from mild approval of the man to unbridled admiration, and it was all due to this little anti-war song on Def Leppard’s 1987 album Hysteria.
The big selling point for me are the quotes from Reagan and Thatcher, beginning at about 5:40 in the track. My younger self realised these sound bites must have come from a speech following the capture of the Achille Lauro hijackers—a seminal triumph against Muammar al-Gaddafi’s resurgent Barbary terrorism.
I know Messrs. Elliott, Savage, Allen et al intended this to be a semi-profound anti-war opus, but for those of us who knew the story of the Achille Lauro (and tragic Leon Klinghofffer), the ending of the song completely undoes whatever anti-ass-whooping spirit had accrued thus far.