Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Illegal Alien": Phil Collins Turns Mexican AKA "It's No Fun" Reading These YouTube Comments

I believe that, at some point in popular music history, as with the great government of our United States, there existed a system of checks and balances. If an act decided to write a song about illegal immigration and perform it with a slightly racist Mexican accent, there would have been forces involved that would've stepped in and said, "Hold on, are you sure you don't want to think twice about this?" However, there have been occasional lapses. I believe that such a system existed at some point prior to the '80s, and at some point after the '80s, but research has led me to believe that it didn't actually exist during the '80s.

This is the only explanation I can give for Genesis' "Illegal Alien." It plays the politically charged issue of Mexican immigration to the U.S. for ... comedic value. Get ready, folks, because In The Air Tonight: The Secret Life and Twisted Psyche of Phillip D. Collins is about to get topical.

Thanks to a certain fluorescent presidential candidate I need not name, Mexican immigration is an issue that, in 2016, remains at the forefront of our political debate. But as the catalog of Genesis proves, it is an issue that is not necessarily new. However, it is an issue that, from where I stand at least, is not now, nor ever has been, particularly hilarious.

Ha Ha Ha! Oh those Mexicans, trying to feed their families by picking produce for a shadow economy! That's a real knee-slapper, boy. I don't personally find the song offensive, but then again, my tolerance is notoriously high. It doesn't sit quite as well with Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who writes, "Phil's Speedy Gonzalez accent is an outright embarrassment (although in some ways it's not all that far removed from his Artful Dodger accent on the previous album's "Who Dunnit?")." Outright embarrassment? Try being a bald drummer. That's an outright embarrassment. The song receives a more enthusiastic recommendation from the less culturally sensitive Patrick Bateman:
"Illegal Alien" is the most explicitly political song the group has yet recorded and their funniest. The subject is supposed to be sad - a wetback trying to get across the border into the United States - but the details are highly comical: the bottle of tequila the Mexican holds, the new pair of shoes he's wearing (probably stolen); and it all seems totally accurate. Phil sings it in a brash, whiny pseudo-Mexican voice that makes it even funnier, and the rhyme of "fun" with "illegal alien" is inspired.
Congratulations, Genesis: you've impressed a psychopath. On paper it doesn't seem quite so tasteless, aside from ... well, a couple of segments:
Got out of bed, wasn't feeling too good
With my wallet and my passport, a new pair of shoes
The sun is shining so I head for the park
With a bottle of tequila and a new pack of cigarettes

I got a cousin and she got a friend
Who thought that her aunt knew a man who could help
At his apartment I knocked on the door
He wouldn't come out until he got paid
Now don't tell anybody what I wanna do
If they find out you know that they'll never let me through

Cause it's a-no fun being an illegal alien
Cause it's a-no fun being an illegal alien
It's all right, "Felipe Collins," you can trust us. We won't squeal on you.
Down at the office had to fill out the forms
A pink one, a red one, the colors you choose
Up to the counter to see what they think
They said "It doesn't count man, it ain't written in ink"
Don't trust anybody least not around here

Consideration for your fellow man
Would not hurt anybody, sure fits in with my plan
Over the border, there lies the promised land
When everything comes easy
You just hold out your hand
Yep, no problems in America all right; you just hold out your hand ... so the migrant guy next to you can place a head of lettuce in it. Then things start to get a little sketchy for "Felipe":
Keep your suspicions, I've seen that look before
But I ain't done nothing wrong now, is that such as surprise?
But I've got a sister who'll be willing to oblige
She will do anything now to help me get to the outside
A sister who's "willing to oblige"? So the guy's trying to prostitute his sister to get across the border? Hey, if that's what it takes. Unsurprisingly, according to Wikipedia, that last verse was edited out of radio versions and the video mix. Maybe they shouldn't have bothered: "Illegal Alien" only hit #44 in the US and #46 in the UK. Who knows, maybe if they'd kept that verse in, it might have really set the charts on fire.

But here's what the song was truly missing: Phil Collins wearing a bad wig (shaped like an eggplant stem?) and a cartoonishly droopy mustache. That's what was missing. And the requisite poncho and sombrero at 2:34. Is he holding ... cucumbers as drumsticks? I've gotta say, despite their protestations to the contrary, it sure seems like a lot of fun being an illegal alien.



Well, it took me a while to figure this out, but I don't think the song was intended to be pro-immigrant or anti-immigrant, but was directed more at the opportunists on both sides of the border who were (and are) exploiting immigrants' desperation. It appears, however, that Genesis did not present this message to the public effectively. In the uncensored domain that is YouTube, many are the lamentations of those who long for a time when a world famous band could release a gleefully tasteless single and not be shamed by the PC Police:
why is it no fun? they get treated like royalty by our commie pres

Yeah it was funny back then, now try getting a job if you're not. What fun.

this was actually an early 80s MTV fave. it wasn't controversial at the time. it was just considered another video. things were simpler then, people were happier.

Great video. Unfortunately, there is no way it gets made today in this pussified country in which everyone is offended by their own shadow.

31 years later and nothing has changed. Everything comes easy you just hold out your hand.

This song needs a new chorus. Entitlement! For the undocumented resident. Entitlement! For the undocumented resident.

Nowadays you have to change the name to "It's No Fun Being an Undocumented Guest Worker With Government Amnesty"

Phil Collins recently said that he was going to change the song title to "It's Really Fun Being an Illegal Alien". He's dedicating the new song to President Obama.

We're going to build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Phil Collins pay for that wall.

Jesus, can you imagine if this song came out today? It would be a massive success simply due to the publicity from all the pundits bitching. Fox Blows & PMSNBC would have a feigned sand-in-the-vagina wankfest. I'M OUTRAGED! OUTRAGED, I TELL YOU! WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?

I appreciate Genesis, but this song can easily strike a nerve. I would never sing this song Karaoke or play it with the window down. The song sounds good, but can come off as hurtful to people of Mexican Ethnicity (IMHO). I want to marry a Mexican Lady, they are beautiful and a SUPER TURN ON!!!

I'm offensive and I find this video highly Mexican.

Phil looks like Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros.

Great song...Those who are offended by it need to learn Spanish on my behalf. Cuz I sure as hell ain't gonna.

This is a song about the time when E.T. didn't pay his television licence.

doesn't he have a Jamaican accent towards the end.

Next in the series: West Side Story's "I Want to Leeef In America ...Everything Free In Amereeeca !"
Still, however misguided, it was nice of Phil and the boys to donate some album space to the issue. After all, no one was forcing them to raise the public's awareness. Or were they? From In The Air Tonight:
It was after a show in San Antonio. I remember it well because I was having trouble getting the right sound out of the hi-hat, so in a rage I threw it toward the back of the stage, and it accidentally sliced open one of our roadies. Chopped him clean in half. Anyway, great show, especially "Follow You Follow Me."

That's when Yovani gave me a tip about some new shit, he said it was killer: duck anti-histamine. "It's like crack without the jitters," he said. I knew I had to score some, but I had to go down to Nuevo Laredo, find Yovani's uncle Carlos. I got across the border around 3:00am, no problem. He said his uncle lived in a shack next to a duck pond. Made sense I guess.

"Quien es?"

"Phil Collins."

"Si, yes, Felipe Collins, bienvenidos, come in, Yovani tells me about you!" I looked around the shack. Several of Carlos' friends were sitting around a pool table, wearing ponchos and sombreros and drinking tequila.

"Mira, mi amigos, es Felipe Collins!" Carlos' friends gave me menacing grins and slowly inched toward me. "He comes for the duck medicine."

"I heard it was good."

"Oh it's bueno, it's muy bueno." Suddenly two of Carlos' buddies pulled out .44 Magnums and threw me onto the pool table.

"What should we do with this gringo, eh?"

"Let's hold him for ransom, make his rich white friends pay for him."

"Wait, fellas, please, it's a mistake!"

"The mistake was you coming into our country, taking our duck medicine, raping our people, laughing in our faces."

"No, listen, you don't understand. I need to keep drumming! I need to keep making hits! The world needs my chart-topping Divorce Rock!"

"Maybe the world needs a few of your teeth, eh gringo?"

Suddenly Carlos stepped forward. "Muchachos, muchachos, I propose a deal. Felipe, you want to hear my deal?"

"Yes, whatever it is, I'll do it."

"OK, good. We let you go - on one condition."

"Yeah?"

"You write song about illegal alien." Carlos' henchmen nodded.

"That's it?"

"There's more. You write song about illegal alien, and you sing it in stupid Mexican accent that makes you sound stupid."

I thought for a moment. "And then you'll let me live?"

"Then we let you live."

"And you'll let me out of Nuevo Laredo?"

"We let you out of Nuevo Laredo."

"And I get a stash of Duck anti-histamine?"

"Gringo, we almost blow your brains out onto pool table. No press your luck. No duck medicine."

So I left it at that. However, I told them I was starving, so they gave me two cucumbers, and I headed back across the border. The whole thing seemed a little fowl to me.

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