“I learned long ago that if you Ram It just right, you can Ram It all day and Ram It all night”.
If you’re just listening to this song in a strictly audio context, (see sidebar to listen) it might vaguely register in the adolescent portion of your brain that there are some lyrics in “Ram It” that could be considered references to, like, fucking. The question as to whether these references are naive and accidental or wink-and-nudge purposeful eventually evaporates into a damp cloud of mortified discomfort when the visuals are added in. It is one thing to hear Gary Jeter describe his defensive prowess in terms like “I come from the end, lookin’ for the sack/I don’t stop comin’ ’til I put ’em on their back.” It is another, far more bewildering situation to actually see it with his accompanying shimmies and wiggles and scowls.
There are other bits that scan as embarrassing in more bad-showbiz ways. Jim Collins, already dealing with the disappointment of being sidelined with a season-long shoulder injury, delivers his lines with a dissociative, middle-distance stare and a half-hearted shoulder shake. Carl Ekern both looks and sounds like he’s rapping through gritted teeth as he hunch-straddles over a motorcycle. But let’s face it: there are a lot of verses in this song that juxtapose a fondness for Ladies and an enthusiasm for Rammin’ It in a pretty suggestive way. And that’s where the comments section comes in.
Trying to track real-world sentiment through YouTube comments is like trying to follow the news from bathroom graffiti. Suffice it to say that a lot of them are along the lines of “this is gay”—not merely in the teenage “synonym for unmacho corniness” sense but in the belief that “Let’s Ram It,” despite being an actual NFL Officially Licensed Product created in the nauseatingly normative heart of 80s Reagan America, is literally an expression of homosexual desire. I’m not at the proper Kinsey scale point to confirm this in the positive, and I’m not struck with the kind of anxious-hetero Penis Panic that immediately jumps to the negative interpretation. But something seems to be at work here, even with the full assumption that this video was intended as “a little something for the ladies.”
This is because there’s no camp in football. Nope. No thanks. Save your comedic irony or your Tim & Eric weirdness for lower-stakes sports like baseball or basketball, the ones with a modicum of tolerance for absurdists and eccentrics like Bill Lee or Shaq or Ichiro. Under the imperium of The Shield, where punk meant Jim McMahon writing passive-aggressive Pete Rozelle callouts on his unauthorized headband, there is only Pride and Honor and Battle; humor and irreverence seem to be abandoned unless it is somehow accidentally buttfumbled into existence.
The NFL, as it exists at this moment, is an anti-nonconformity machine constructed to make examples out of the Cam Newtons and Ricky Williamses of the world, and the one game that’s least aware of its status as a game. It has leveraged that self-serious attitude to become the single most omnipresent entertainment institution in the entire United States. Our valiant gridiron heroes must never look like anything less than the most constricting, conservative version of True Manhood; if they fuck that up somehow, then that facade has crumbled. One must never let that mask slip, ever.
For some Rams players, participation in the “Let’s Ram It” video wound up defining them more substantially than their actual playing careers. Norwood Vann, who caps off his verse with a hip thrust that would make “Ravishing” Rick Rude stammer, has more Wikipedia verbiage on his “energetic appearance” in the video than on his actual pro career. For others, it’s a goofy footnote, the kind of thing that might get dragged out as a clip if the Hall of Fame induction ceremony ever doubled as a roast. (“Hey Slater, are you actually playing that saxophone?”)
They are all worth saluting: grown men unafraid to look like total goofy ding-dongs, many of them not far removed from historic athletic landmarks or careers that would enshrine them in Canton. This song is silly, yeah. It’s definitely easy to laugh at, even if it means inadvertently laughing with it, too.
And if you’ve sincerely believe there’s no place for this kind of ridiculousness in professional sports? Well, these dudes have a suggestion as to what you can do with it.
Written by: Nate Patrin, Vice Magazine, Feb. 2016
Hah! Please, Gary, Next, you are going to tell me that the Village People’s “YMCA” and “Macho Man” are symbols of homoeroticism. Why, if that were so, no way so many wholesome American sports fans would dance to those songs at games.
Of the many lines I liked in this piece, the one that is best is: “The NFL, as it exists at this moment, is an anti-nonconformity machine.”
I hope against hope that the Brian Flores lawsuit would open minds and bring real change, but the sad reality seems to be that millions of NFL fans, along with the TV networks and the gambling world, are quite happy with a league run by folks like Stephen Ross, Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft and the like.
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As always, Mark, you hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately 54 % of American adults between the ages of 16-74 read below a 6th grade level. Where am I going with this? Billionaires and the politically powerful will take advantage of the moronic population with invented “culture wars” and economic scapegoats, and things will only get worse before they get better.
P.S. The Village People kind of sucked in my humble opinion. I’m not really a fan of “stadium rock” in general. LOL
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holy rose thorns is this scathing and wonderful! I love it all and my two bits? well, of the major sports, football’s gotta be the most kinky with the tights and the masks. seems well suited for Pulp Fiction’s Gimp.
…and remember Steve….you always gotta “hit the hole hard.”
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It’s almost beyond comprehension to my 80’s brain, but somehow I’ve never seen nor even heard this song/video before! So with my brothers-in-arms to the left and right of me, we all watched in glorious amusement, and we all laughed as the one to my left uttered “Uh, let’s ram it, Beavis… huh-huh, huh-huh.”
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That’s awesome! You know, I’m a Rams fan and even I’d never heard of it until recently. I think the vinyl LP is kind of rare.