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They'd None of Them Be Missed!

A couple of friends and I were chatting about Gilbert and Sullivan over the weekend, and I thought of Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko’s song “I’ve Got A Little List” from The Mikado.
The original song manages to be racist (“the banjo-serenader and the others of his race”), sexist (“the lady novelist”), and classist (“the lady from the provinces”) all at once, and so people typically come up with more contemporary lyrics when they’re staging a production. (I remember a Canadian version that sentenced to death “all children who do Rubik’s Cubes in 15 seconds flat.”)
Anyway, it occurred to me that somebody really ought to do a China-localized version, and last night my friend Jim and I sat down to come up with one:


“I’ve Got A Little List”
(with thanks to Jim, and apologies to Messrs. W. S. Gilbert & A. Sullivan)

SONG–LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER with CHORUS OF MEN.

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list–I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed–who never would be missed!
There’s the discontent petitioners in Beijing for redress–
And those who can’t pay doctor’s fees but won’t die nonetheless–
The children who can’t go to school because we still charge fees–
The whole ungrateful peasantry; they’re so damned hard to please–
And hot-head bumpkins who on spoiling grabs for land insist–
They’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed!

CHORUS:
He’s got ’em on the list–he’s got ’em on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed.

There’s the ones who cast aspersions on the glory of the race–
(The upstart journalist? I’ve got him on the list!)
They’re sucking up to foreigners and making us lose face,
They never would be missed–they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who reads unfiltered sites,
And who doesn’t know from voting but would rather like some rights,
And that singular anomaly, the labor activist–
I don’t think he’d be missed–I’m sure he’d not he missed!

CHORUS:
He’s got him on the list–he’s got him on the list;
And I don’t think he’ll be missed–I’m sure he’ll not be missed!

And those nasty F*lun Gong’ers who are always on your tits
Like an irritating cyst–I’ve got them on the list!
As long as they don’t burn themselves, we’ll sell them off for bits–
They’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed.
And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,
Such as–What d’ye call him–Thing’em-bob, and likewise–Never-mind,
And ‘St–‘st–‘st–and What’s-his-name, and also You-know-who–
The task of filling up the blanks I’d rather leave to you.
And if you look in hist’ry books, we’ve took ’em off the list —
We did it very carefully–not one of them was missed!

CHORUS:
You may put ’em on the list–you may take ’em off the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed!

9 Comments

  1. richard wrote:

    Brilliant. Just brilliant.

    Monday, November 20, 2006 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Micah wrote:

    I suspect the singer would rather sell off the FG members’ bits rather than selling them for bits, given the recent admission of harvesting organs from executed prisoners.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  3. Micah wrote:

    Oh, and here‘s a Youtube rendition of an “original” so that folks can sing along to Brendan’s version.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  4. Hey, cheers — that’s what I meant. I actually did mean ‘selling them off for parts,’ but couldn’t find a satisfying rhyme for ‘parts,’ though one candidate version of the line was “And all those F*lun Gong’ers doing yoga in the parks / who auto-immolate and leave behind them sooty marks.”

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  5. But you forgot those bloody foreigners who go round breaking stereotypes and actually understanding shit….

    Otherwise, bloody brilliant!

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Roodles wrote:

    Yeah, nothing like flushing the original in the name of Political Correctness! I’m going to try and rewrite the works of Homer and Shakespeare. That those men just had no sense of Rightness, with all their sexist, homophobic, and racist talk. (And no, this is not aimed at Brendan, but by producers that feel the need to “modernize” an artist’s work for our sensibilities. What next? rewrite history and edit paintings?)

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Roodles: Gilbert himself rewrote the lyrics to this song — particularly after the lady novelist was no longer a “singular anomaly” — and there is in fact a grand tradition of doing the same. I’ve got no truck with people who, e.g., censor Huckleberry Finn, but I’d say that given that we live in the 21st century, and that there is already an extant tradition of localizing and modernizing the lyrics to this particular song, there’s really no reason to be putting “the nigger serenader and the others of his race” – the earliest version of the line – on the List.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006 at 6:13 am | Permalink
  8. Ha ha….

    (actually, initial response was hahahaha, but I shortened it down for PC…)

    Love it. Now if you can just get somebody to perform it… ;)

    Saturday, November 25, 2006 at 6:41 pm | Permalink
  9. Inst wrote:

    “And those who can’t pay doctor’s fees but won’t die nonetheless–”

    This was addressed by Richard Spencer on his Telegraph Blog…

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/foreign/richardspencer/sept06/lifenotfair.htm

    Trashed social welfare system encourages higher savings, which props up the ailing banks, which are not that bad, as China’s financial system is still juvenile and bad loans can be used to drive growth.

    “The children who can’t go to school because we still charge fees–”

    Mr. Spencer mentioned how high fees force students to work hard and study hard. Besides, what would be the benefit of having more students in schools? There are so many college graduates in China who have difficulty finding jobs. Adding more to the labor market would be silly.

    “And hot-head bumpkins who on spoiling grabs for land insist–”

    On one hand, land grabs are being clamped down on by the CCP due to its relationship with corruption, on the other hand, this contributes to industrialization by forcing farmers off their land.

    “And that singular anomaly, the labor activist–”

    Encourages investment and economic growth.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 5:05 am | Permalink

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