Language evolves. For instance, the word “conversation” used to have a sexual connotation while “intercourse” meant something more like conversation. Let’s be glad the censors aren’t industrious enough to try banning older books with “intercourse” in them.
Unfortunately, the public doesn’t understand how language changes. Meanings sometimes shift over time; occasionally, such developments happen suddenly.
Soon after September 11, 2001, Americans came to associate the term “ground zero” with the World Trade Center site. If you say ground zero to almost any American, that’s all that will come to their mind. The earlier definition was erased: the spot where an atomic or nuclear weapon hits the earth.
But the greatest travesty emerges when the public, in effect, censors old works because they use the term “ground zero” in an “inappropriate” way. Entire works of art and other cultural products become nothing more than incomprehensible anachronisms as a couple of historical chapters are forgotten. I’m sure quite a few Japanese (should) take issue with this revision of history and public memory, as should anyone who ever had to “duck and cover.”
But I’m not here to write about Hiroshima and Nagasaki…
I bring you a song from 1986 that was commonly played at Christmastime until “ground zero” took on its new meaning. Now we don’t hear the song as much. You’d think that people could tell from the context that the song isn’t about the 9-11 attack site.
On the other hand, I once knew a guy who thought the song “Jesus He Knows Me” by Genesis was a great religious tune because it featured the word “Jesus.” So one probably can’t realistically expect people to pay attention to anything more than a keyword or two.
Anyway, the video is below. Since stores will be putting up their Christmas decorations in a few weeks, let’s have some Cold War holiday fun.