by Andy Nowicki
The song, composed by Hal David and Sherman Edwards, presents us with that perennially vexing relationship dilemma: what’s a young woman to do when her strapping beau refuses to get even a little possessive?
With girlish gusto, Sommers pours forth her lover’s lament, confessing first that she has even resorted to dramatic-- if underhanded-- means of getting her message across; still, in spite of all of her efforts, her suitor doesn’t seem to have taken the hint:
"Johnny, I said we were through, just to see what you would doYou stood there and hung your head, made me wish that I were dead!"
Johnny, she complains, won’t even react with appropriate jealousy when his girl is getting blatantly macked on by another guy:
"Every time you dance with me, you let Freddy cut in constantly
When he does, you never speak; must you always be so meek?"
In the final verse, the pertly disaffected ingénue insists that she only wants what every girl wants: to be put in her place. If he’d just respond to her petty machinations with anger, it would let her know that he truly “cares.” Yet clueless Johnny consistently refuses to rise to the occasion. She wants “a brave man, a caveman,” but to her great exasperation, Johnny remains temperamentally diffident and taciturn:
"Every girl wants someone who she can always look up to
You know I love you, of course; let me know that you’re the boss!"
It is certainly amusing to consider this song, with its un-self-consciously “regressive” pre-feminist ethos, in the context of today’s hyper-gynocentric environment, with its relentless hostility to traditional gender roles and its abiding “hermeneutic of suspicion” towards the prospect of male authority and concomitant feminine submission.
Still, even in our age, with its contrivedly engineered inversion of nature and mandated enshrinement of increasingly depraved iterations of abnormality, enforced, as ever, from on high (most recently signified in the “trans”-bathroom acceptance campaign, queasily unfolding in North Carolina even as we speak), fundamental patterns of attraction haven’t truly changed. Put simply, women are still attracted to strong, confident, physically imposing, psychically dominating guys—in short, “manly” men-- even if they are now often embarrassed to publicly admit their attraction, for fear of seeming contemptibly retrograde in taste and unforgivably reactionary in attitude.
A song like “Johnny Get Angry” thus retains contemporary resonance; indeed, it has an edgier, more “red-pilled” flavor today than it ever had in the past, when it was only considered a harmless, sweet, silly little trifle of a tune (albeit one which included a bitchin’ kazoo solo). Today, however, “Johnny” is shocking, even enraging and offensive to many, because it reveals a truth that is widely considered unpalatable concerning gender relations.
|"GET MAD, goddamn you!!"|
But there is yet another layer of significance, less commonly remarked, to the scenario depicted in the song, one which could be said to transcend both the conventional wisdom of the past and that of the present. Feminists are reflexively outraged by the underlying message of “Johnny Get Angry” because they desperately want to deny the reality of the natural feminine desire to be dominated by a man; however, many contemporary, ostensibly counter-cultural masculinists are equally obtuse in their assessment of the scenario in question, missing out on a crucial subtext of this anthem of courtly disaffection.
A typical adherent to “red pill” masculinist PUA alpha-striving gamer would conclude that the guy addressed by Sommers is being a spineless “cucky” little beta bitch-boy. Yet in judging the matter thusly, he would be ignoring the fact that the “Johnny” in question is in fact the true “alpha.” After all, it is the speaker in the song who is demanding that Johnny change his ways to accommodate her preferences. Moreover, for all of her gushing façade of guileless innocence, it must be observed that this girl is something of a conniving shrew.
To wit: 1) She pretends to breaks up with him just to mess with his head; 2) She tries to provoke his jealousy by agreeing to dance with another boy (and in relatively chaste 1962, dancing meant much more than it does now), 3) She implores him to show her that he’s “the boss,” pretending all the while to be unaware that the one who is able to manipulate someone into assuming a “boss” role is in fact the true boss: it is in her interests, not his, which would be served by him adopting this supposedly superior position.
Masculine dignity has much to do with the manful resolution to employ needful defiance, which, in the relation between the sexes, consists largely in the ability and inclination to say, “No, ma’am” when one sees fit to withhold consent. By this criteria, it would seem to me that the “Johnny” in question here has his priorities in order: he is uninterested in “getting angry” just to appease his neurotically needy sweetie, and this fact speaks well of his testicular fortitude.
Andy Nowicki, assistant editor of Alternative Right, is the author of eight books, including Under the Nihil, The Columbine Pilgrim, Considering Suicide, and Beauty and the Least. He occasionally updates his blog when the spirit moves him to do so. Visit his Soundcloud page.