Running Amok "My Way"
February 09, 2010, 10:08 PM
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From the NY Times:
The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling �My Way� in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines, or how many fatal fights it has fueled. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the �My Way Killings.�

The killings have produced urban legends about the song and left Filipinos groping for answers. Are the killings the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo? Or is there something inherently sinister in the song?

Yeah, it appeals to jerks and losers — e.g., Sid Vicious's 1978 post-Sex Pistols cover version of "My Way" (video here, and here's Gary Oldman's version from Sid and Nancy).

By the way, Wikipedia asserts: "In the Philippines it was believed that Vicious' version was inspired by deposed dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, where in the first part of the song Vicious attempted to imitate the voice of the late dictator." I suspect this Manila Urban Legend says more about Filipinos' obsession with "My Way" than it does about the late Mr. Vicious, whom I can't imagine had much of an idea who Ferdinand E. Marcos even was.

Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country’s many Sinatra lovers, like Mr. Gregorio here in this city in the southernmost Philippines, are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation.

Karaoke-related killings are not limited to the Philippines. In the past two years alone, a Malaysian man was fatally stabbed for hogging the microphone at a bar and a Thai man killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s �Take Me Home, Country Roads.�

There's an old tradition in Southeast Asia of men suddenly "running amok." Wikipedia writes:
Although commonly used in a colloquial and less-violent sense, the phrase is particularly associated with a specific sociopathic culture-bound syndrome in Malaysian culture. In a typical case of running amok, a male who has shown no previous sign of anger or any inclination to violence will acquire a weapon and, in a sudden frenzy, will attempt to kill or seriously injure anyone he encounters. ... W. W. Skeat wrote in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica:
A Malay will suddenly and apparently without reason rush into the street armed with a kris or other weapons, and slash and cut at everybody he meets till he is killed. These frenzies were formerly regarded as due to sudden insanity. It is now, however, certain that the typical amok is the result of circumstances, such as domestic jealousy or gambling losses, which render a Malay desperate and weary of his life. It is, in fact, the Malay equivalent of suicide. The act of running amuck is probably due to causes over which the culprit has some amount of control, as the custom has now died out in the British possessions in the peninsula, the offenders probably objecting to being caught and tried in cold blood.
Always trust content from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.