The Name Game or, Being Martha Wash-ed

Quote of the Day: “I wore the clothes you wanted/I took your name/If there is some confusion, who’s to blame?…” — R.E.M., “I Took Your Name”

So I’m talking to my best buddy and we’re chatting about the Olympics, specifically about all those young-looking Chinese gymnasts who cannot possibly be 16. Of course, we decide, China must be lying about their ages–they set a precedent in the Opening Ceremony by replacing the ugly “unpresentable” girl who really could sing with a cuter, more presentable girl who was more TV-ready. Someone high up didn’t think the masses were ready to watch the little girl with the, uh, crooked teeth serenading the world. Those wacky communists, always looking out for the feelings of the masses. So poor little Yang Peiyi sat in the wings of the world stage while presentable little Lin Miaoke soared among the stars singing the unpresentable girl’s tune.

In other words, Yang Peiyi got Martha Wash-ed.

For those you young’uns who don’t know who Martha Wash is, you can sample the video below. Back in the 90s, Martha was the owner of the soul-shouting voice that made C&C Music Factory sound so good, while Zelma Davis was the skinny, model-type who made them look good–while lip-syncing to Martha’s vocals.

“Martha Wash-ed” is an example of how my buddy and I turn famous names into victimizing verbs. Getting Martha Wash-ed is sorta like being Linda Tripp-ed. You’ve been Linda Tripp-ed when somebody secretly tape-records a phone conversation with you about all your personal bidness, then uses it against you and the man you were doing your personal bidness with.

Or say, perhaps, you were a popular ice skater who was clopped across the shin with a steel bar by the husband of your closest competitor–you might say you were Tonya Harding-ed. Get it? Hard-dinged. Anyone? Is this mic on?

Oh forget it. Just watch Martha (and her then-partner Izora) singing a disco classic. She’s the one in the trench coat and blue blouse…

It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls


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Filed under culture, music

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