For decades filmmakers who love putting birthday scenes in their movies have had to cobble together near (or not so near) approximations of the most famous song in the English language. Well, that pain in the ass task is unnecessary now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t miss what they came up with.
This, obviously, isn’t an exhaustive list but it sure is fun to hear some of the things people have come up with to give audiences that Happy Birthday feeling without taking that hefty $10,000 fine and tacking it onto filmmaking costs. I mean, seriously, who would dare say that The Three Stooges or Mister Rogers had bad ideas? I'm pretty sure that one of the laws of the universe is that they could do no wrong.
The song was supposed to retain copyright protection until 2030, but a federal judge recently put the kibosh on that when he ruled in the interest of documentary filmmaker Jennifer Nelson who is making a movie about the history of the beloved song.
Sometimes victories aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. This may end up being like when the movie Production Code, which lasted from 1934 to about 1959, was turned into the ratings system we have today. Sure, now we can see all sorts of nudity, hear all sorts of cursing and watch every manner of horrifically violent attacks on humanity in movies of many stripes. But, we don’t get so much in the way of the thrill of imagination.
Theoretically, we love it when movie makers get creative. Everything from sci-fi to dramatic masterpieces have benefitted from the imaginative urge. Why should birthday songs be any different? Now that things have become so easy in this one respect it brings up some questions.
Are we suddenly going to see pointless birthday scenes in every movie and television show, just because it’s now free to use the song everyone knows and loves? Will we ever have masterpieces like the one sung in Waiting again? Will people care if we don’t?
While it’s entirely possible that we’ll still get the occasional new birthday song, and maybe even one that becomes popular enough to sing at your nephew’s next party, I happen to think that just won’t be the case. Movie making is already a tricky business, and I suspect that everyone who’s ever held a film camera will be looking to make their lives a little easier when it comes to written originality.
Think about all the birthday scenes in movies you’ve enjoyed that wouldn’t have been as satisfyingly goofy as they turned out to be without the new-fangled song that was featured. Would the movie still be one of your favorites? Looking back, would you miss the crazy song if it were replaced by the tradition one? I think most of us would.
So, for all you silly birthday song lovers out there, find a clip of your favorite version and hold on tight. You may never get another one.