A 12,000-word treatise on Timbuk3's "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

OK, not 12,000 words. But really: this is one of the best songs of the '80s. It's got that upbeat tempo, and the harmonica, and it's definitely one of those songs I could imagine listening to while driving up the coast in my convertible. (If I had a convertible and if we had a coast.)

But beneath the surface, "TFSBIGWS," the acronym I call it by all the time in real life, is not really the happy song it sounds like. It's actually got a dark, satirical message at its heart that a lot of people miss, which only makes me love it all the more:

I study nuclear science; I love my classes.
I gotta crazy teacher; he wears dark glasses.
Things are going great, and they're only getting better.
I'm doin' all right, getting good grades;
The future's so bright;
I gotta wear shades. I gotta wear shades.

See, though, you can't just gloss over the "nuclear science" reference and assume that this is merely a peppy yuppie anthem. His future's so bright, literally, because it's filled up with the nuclear holocuast that he will help bring about. In his quest to fulfill his fantasy of achieving his economic dreams, this young man has lost sight of the big picture, and helped to bring about his own destruction, not to mention the world's. Simple and brilliant, even if a lot of people don't pay close enough attention to get true message (See also: "Born in the USA").

Which brings us to some strange news from last week. You guys know Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Anal Lube), right? You know, basically the most powerful homophobe in the country? The guy who equates homosexuality with bestiality and child abuse? One of the guys who wants to write restrictions of gay civil rights into the Constitution?

Of course you know him. Now, what kind of person should really, REALLY not be working for Sen. Santorum? Correct, the gay kind. And in any other normal reality, that would be the case. But, this being Washington, home of some heretofore uncategorized brand of Bizarro Reality... the good Senator's communications director, Robert Traynham, is gay.

Samma... hamma... WHAAAA?!?! How does this happen? If you're gay, isn't Santorum the ABSOLUTELY LAST FUCKING PERSON YOU WANT TO BE WORKING FOR? Dear fucking Lord. Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly in the wall during that job interview?

SANTORUM: Well, son, everything seems to be in order here. I'd like you to be my new communications director.
TRAYNHAM: Thanks, sir!
SANTORUM: Now, you're not, you know... that is to say... you're not ho-mo-sexual, are you my boy?
TRAYNHAM: Um, well actually I am, sir.
SANTORUM: Ahhh. Oh. I see. Hmmm.
[uncomfortable silence]
SANTORUM: Well, I don't see how that's a problem. Just put on this armband and badge for me...
TRAYNHAM: Oooh! Pink triangle brooch!

Yeah, I don't get it. I can't even begin to guess why somebody who was gay would decide to work for Santorum.

But that's part of the D.C. mystique, isn't it? We have some of the smartest people in the world living here. We're one of the most literate, well-educated cities in the world. Tons of bright young people come flooding in by the busload every year. So many smart people who could use the power of Washington to make the world a better place.

But too many of them wind up compromising their ideals, or even, as in this case, actively working against what's in their own best interests. Traynham seems to me like the young man in "The Future's So Bright"; he's so determined to make a name for himself in Washington, so determined to get the salary, so determined to achieve the status that comes with being a top Senate aide, that he's lost sight of the big picture. He's working for a man who is actively working to restrict his rights. Traynham's working for a powerful man who believes his sexual preferences place him on the same level as pedophiles. (And you think your boss doesn't like you.)

Traynham, a Santorum staffer for eight years, called his boss “a man of principle. He is a man who sticks up for what he believes in. I strongly support Sen. Santorum.”
Wow. The future's so bright, he's gotta wear culottes.

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