The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Ted Nugent: We Are Hyperbole

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It's a little known fact that Ted Nugent was born with a rare birth defect that renders him incapable of subtlety.

When you’re a teacher, you sometimes find that current events and pop culture illustrate your content in ways you could never imagine.  You never get tired of that happening, because it lends instant credibility to what you’re teaching, and thusly you don’t have to be pestered about how whatever you’re teaching is going to be used in real life.  Sometimes, the connections between “real life” and class content come from totally unexpected sources, which is why I’m trying to wrap my head head around being able to use Ted Nugent as a reference point in my Creative Writing class.

First, it’s worth noting that Ted Nugent wrote and recorded “Stranglehold,” perhaps the most ass-kickingest song in the history of music.  I defy you to listen to the first minute, starting with the opening guitar licks and the drums and bass kicking in, and not be totally pumped.  It’s pure Ted Nugent jamming on his guitar, wailing on that thing for all it’s worth.  There’s really no other way to describe the masterpiece other than as a balls-out psychedelic heavy metal jam.  Nowadays, Nugent seems to be throwing himself into supporting gun rights and tearing down the Democratic Party the same way he threw himself into “Stranglehold” so many years ago.  This is evidenced by his preposterous speech at the National Rifle Association convention last weekend in St. Louis.

One concept we study in Creative Writing when we study poetry is “hyperbole,” which is the intentional use of exaggeration.  It is oft times used for comedic purposes, though it can also be used to make emphasis.  You probably first encountered this by way of your parents:  If I told you kids to shut up once, I’ve told you a thousand time!  As you can see, hyperbole is figurative; it’s not meant to be taken literally.  It’s also an easy concept for high school students to grasp, because THEY USE IT ALL THE TIME!  “My backpack weighs a ton…  Everybody else is doing it…  I swear to god I almost died running laps in gym…”  You might also be familiar with it by way of The Beatles’ “Taxman.”  It’s all over the opening stanzas:

Let me tell you how it will be / There’s one for you, nineteen for me / ‘Cause I’m the taxman…  Should five per cent appear too small / Be thankful I don’t take it all / ‘Cause I’m the taxman…  If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, / If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. / If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat, / If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Now, thanks to Uncle Ted, I don’t have to point to my students or Beatles songs as the best examples of hyperbole.  Some of my favorite lines from Nugents speech:

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

“If you can’t galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we’re done.”

“We are patriots.  We are Braveheart.  We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.”

Not to be outdone by even himself, Nugent hit one out of the park Tuesday on a radio talkshow while defending his comments and talking about how he fits in with the Democratic administration in Waashington:  “I’m a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally.”

Nugent’s penchant for hyperbole shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.  His career as a guitar legend seemed based heavily on bombast, to the point that in the heyday of his career, he may as well have been strutting around the stage with his junk hanging out the front of his pants.  It’s easy to hear that after a few runs through “Stranglehold,” the guitar solo of which ranks at #31 on both the Guitar World list of the 50 Greatest Guitar Solos and Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All-Time.  But take a listen to “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Free For All“, “Dog Eat Dog,” or Double Live Gonzo!, too.  His way of crashing headlong and guitar-first through songs helped establish the tone for his genre of rock and cement his reputation as The Motor City Madman (if I had that cool of a nickname, I’d do everything I could to take it to my grave).

So it seems Nugent attacks everything with the same degree of gusto he once had for his music.  It’s cool to be able to live like that, but the NRA (and the Republican party) are stuck with damage control in the wake of his rant.  Maybe Nugent’s political leanings and zeal for gun rights will simmer to a tepid joke, much as his music career did with Damn Yankees.

Finally, hyperbole, just like any other element of poetic craft, is something a writer decides to use with a great deal of intentionality to convey certain ideas.  So what if Ted Nugent wasn’t intentionally using hyperbole?  Then it’s called melodrama.  Either way, if you’re stumping for the Republicans in 2012, is Nugent the guy you want on your side?  Wasn’t Sarah Palin embarrassment enough?

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Written by seeker70

April 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Like

    amy

    April 23, 2012 at 9:06 am


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