I don't know what army Larry Platt is a general in, but I am ready to enlist. He speaks my language.
Larry Platt, in case the name doesn't ring a bell, is the 63-year-old Atlanta man who energized the nation and became an overnight celebrity after his appearance on "American Idol" last week. Even though he is a few decades beyond the age limit for the show, which is 28, according to soon to be departed judge Simon Cowell, the producers of the show allowed Gen. Platt his 15 minutes of fame and he used his time on the air to delight the judges and, apparently, a large segment of American society by rapping out a little ditty called "Pants on the Ground," which lambastes young people who walk around with sagging britches, completely unaware of, well basically just completely unaware.
On the surface most people assumed that Platt's tirade was aimed at "urban youth,"
which has become a code word for young black males. In reality, there are a lot of kids of all races and ethnicities who have embraced the fashion statement and apathy that "Pants on the Ground" rails against.
Some folks would be immediately castigated as being insensitive or even racist for performing such a song on national television, but Larry Platt is a black man himself and was an active participant in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and was given his nickname General by none other than Hosea Williams. Such as that will earn you a little street cred. Larry Platt has a dog in this fight, in other words, and is basically tired of seeing young males waste their lives hanging out on street corners and getting in trouble. I suppose that he felt like a little national ridicule might shock some of those young men into a beneficial change of attitude.
In case you missed his performance, the lyrics of his rap are:
"Pants on the ground, pants on the ground; Lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground.
Gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground.
Call yourself a cool cat looking like a fool, walking down town with your pants on the ground!"
Kind of catchy, huh?
A lot of people seem to think so. Prior to his appearance on "Idol" the most recognition Platt had ever gotten was when his work in the civil rights movement was recognized with a resolution by the Georgia General Assembly in 2001. Now he is a hot commodity and has been invited to appear on a number of nationally broadcast television shows, including "The View."
OK. I'll admit. Sometimes I watch "The View," but only because of Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Jay Leno and a host of other late night talk show hosts have aired the clip of Larry's "Idol" appearance, which included a full split at the end quite a feat for a 63-year-old and Brett Favre led his Minnesota Vikings in a rendition of "Pants" after his team's playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. The You Tube hits on Platt's performance have reached astronomical numbers. None of which is likely to have much of an impact on kids who actually walk around with their pants on the ground, because most of them probably aren't tuned in to "The View" every morning, but the Internet and media sensation that he has created might strike a chord with someone, somewhere, who can make a difference.
Pants-mania has also reminded me of the most embarrassing incident of my life to date.
It's a long story so I'll give you the Cliffs Notes version. I needed new overalls so my mama had me stop by the store on my way to school to buy a pair. The only ones they had were two sizes too big, but that wasn't going to stop Bobby Smith from making a sale. He put me in a pair of pants that were two sizes too large and the stride of those pants hung down to my knees. I guess I would have been right in style if the incident had happened 40 years later.
Fast-forward to recess. Get the picture. Nine year old linthead boy with stride of his pants down around his knees on the top step of the sliding board waiting to catch the teacher not looking so he could slide down the support pole fireman style instead of the slide.
She looked away. I slid down the pole. My pants caught on a bolt and ripped right off. I was on the ground but my pants weren't. There I was, at the foot of the slide, in just my brogans and my step-ins. I don't know how I ever survived that incident.
At any rate, I'm with Gen. Platt. Someone has now said what a lot of us have wanted to say for a long time pull your pants up, fool!
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at email@example.com.