Could the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel be considered a deviant song?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I cannot help but feel that one has to stretch the idea of deviance if one were to apply it to the Joel song.  The song's basic premise is that conflict and dissonance have been an intrinsic part of Post- World War II America.  The song reflects how social and political strife are evident in the social contractions and expansions of American History.  I am not sure that this could be seen as deviance.  The only way I could see this as plausible is if the standards of "acceptable behavior" were to not have conflict.  This conception of accepted norms would stress that it is deviant to engage in dissent and oppositional to what is understood as convention.  I think that a real argument could be waged as to this construction of accepted behavior as being deviant in its own right.  Such a narrow development of behavior would make people like Dr. King, Gloria Steinem, or Harvey Milk as being deviant because they voiced opposition to what American society was doing to different groups of people.  I am not sure that it is deviant behavior to suggest that conflict and dissent are natural parts of a cultural dynamic.  In this light, I guess I don't really see the song as an example of deviant behavior and a deviant song.


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