'Pants on the Ground': a scolding for young'uns on 'American Idol'

The ditty 'Pants on the Ground,' by Atlanta civil rights icon Larry Platt, made its debut Wednesday on 'American Idol' – and its ridicule of low-rider pants seems to be resonating.

Screenshot from YouTube
Veteran civil rights activist and American Idol contestant Larry Platt performs his original composition, 'Pants on the Ground.'

"General" Larry Platt, whose original ditty "Pants on the Ground" cracked up everyone on "American Idol" Wednesday night, is not your standard "Idol" outtake (and not only because he's well over the cut-off age of 28).

Beaten by law officers during the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march in Alabama, Mr. Platt was nicknamed "General" by Atlanta civil rights icon Hosea Williams for his heroic role in the civil rights era. (See a picture here. Platt is the young man on the left looking at the camera.) These days, Platt is going at it alone, protesting that too-stubborn urban fashion statement: pants worn low, crotch almost at the knees – a sign, to many, of disrespect and a thumb in the eye to many civil rights activists like Platt who fought to raise the profile of black Americans in US society.

Sure, some communities – including Atlanta – have tried (with dubious success) to outlaw the fashion statement, saying low-rider pants are obscene. But Platt's catchy ditty about youths with gold in their mouths, baseball caps turned sideways, and "looking like a fool with your pants on the ground" could do more to discourage the look than any local ordinance, especially now that his tune is getting remixed on YouTube. Unusually cheery, "Idol" grump Simon Cowell predicted: "I have a horrible feeling that song could be a hit."

Already, it's a ring tone, and there's a Facebook campaign charging ahead to get Platt a record deal. His message runs deeper, at least, than that of "Idol" hopeful William Hung (also on YouTube).

Platt has long been a presence at Atlanta City Council meetings, and his latest mission has been to protest widespread foreclosures in Atlanta's mostly black neighborhoods. Even the Georgia legislature has hailed Platt for his "outstanding service" in the community, and the city of Atlanta proclaimed Sept. 4, 2001, to be Larry Platt Day.

Seems appropriate that "Idol" would give him a nod, allowing America a perhaps overdue glimpse at one of Atlanta's unique personalities.


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