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November 11, 2009 10:03 AM   Subscribe

In September, Jade Ewen replaced Keisha Buchanan in the line-up of the British pop group Sugababes. Buchanan was the last original member of the group, making the Sugababes the pop equivalent of the Ship of Theseus, an ancient philosophical paradox. The switch caused acrimony, heartache and legal wrangles. But Popjustice now reveals that it also has terrifying implications for the future of human civilisation. Sunday 30 April 2265: Mutyageddon.
posted by WPW (32 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sugababes link has autoplay audio.
posted by Babblesort at 10:08 AM on November 11, 2009


Given its declining birthrates and aging population, I think Japan's Morning Musume will be the real testing ground for a civilization in which all citizens must endure compulsory service in a cloying pop group.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 10:13 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


the Sugababes the pop equivalent of the Ship of Theseus

Greatest. Comparison. Ever.
posted by jefficator at 10:15 AM on November 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


This is also true of Napalm Death, just to speak up for the grindcore fans here on the blue. They also hold the distinction of releasing the shortest single in music history so I suppose they were never ones to stick around for long.
posted by el_lupino at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hats off to this post. A pure postmodern masterpiece.
posted by gcbv at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2009


I never knew this paradox actually had a name, which is a testament to how incomplete my college courses in philosophy were. Thanks for that. I've replaced a number of things completely-in-parts and have always thought of the connection to the original unrepaired/unreplaced object when doing so. It just seemed like such an obvious thing that all humans encounter that I never considered it a paradox big enough to be "named".

On a related note, this one keeps coming up for me in various forms: You buy a multi-pack of socks, all identical but clipped together in pairs in the original packaging. You stick them in a drawer can wear them without concern over their original matched partner (since they are all identical) until one-by-one they wear out and are thrown away but the last two. Those last two have little chance of being an original pair, but they are your "last pair of socks". The manufacturer deemed them sold in pairs, so those original sets are connected in a historical way. The last two are connected in a present-situation way. At what point does the original pairing get replaced with the current pairing?
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:19 AM on November 11, 2009


If you had told me today I would read about Sugababes being compared to the Ship of Theseus, I would have been like, hell no. If you would have wagered with me, I would have bet a sum.

Next time, bet me before you post this outstanding reference. Thank you! Oh my, look, beans!
posted by cavalier at 10:20 AM on November 11, 2009


making the Sugababes the pop equivalent of the Ship of Theseus, an ancient philosophical paradox.

Pokemon battle!

"OVERTHINKINGAZARD, I choose you!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2009


If something has terrifying implications for the future of human civilisation, it is the fact that the Sugababes are now cited by name in the "Ship of Theseus" Wikipedia entry...
posted by Skeptic at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2009


I was going to comment that I'd always heard it as "George Washington's axe" but when I searched on that in Wikipedia, it redirected me to "The Ship of Theseus".
posted by octothorpe at 10:35 AM on November 11, 2009


And of course, the Ship of Theseus paradox isn't cited anywhere in the Sugababes Wikipedia entry (despite it being noticeably longer).
posted by Skeptic at 10:35 AM on November 11, 2009


So what you're saying is that the Ship of Theseus was the ancient Greek version of Menudo?
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:36 AM on November 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


f you had told me today I would read about Sugababes being compared to the Ship of Theseus, I would have been like, hell no.

I would have been like, "Hell, no--- wait, I'm going to read it on Metafilter, aren't I? OK."

Also, I've always thought of this as the OLD AXE SITUATION* I replaced the handle last year, I replaced the head this year, same axe though.

*I don't have fancy names for these things in my head.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:36 AM on November 11, 2009


In the post-appocalypse, we will all be on the top 40, and bands will be eager to have anyone join, as radiation poisoning and declining medical resources means they're likely to lose a member in a month or two. I have to say, if survivalists pitched that aspect, I'd be more apt to join their enclaves. Instead, it's all "You'll be the last to live, you get to eat what you kill, and society won't be a leach on you!"
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2009


This is also known as the "Trigger's Broom paradox", after the rather dim-witted street sweeper in Only Fools and Horses.
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:45 AM on November 11, 2009


I thought of Menudo immediately when the Ship of Theseus paradox appeared, and also I think they have the Sugababes beat in terms of the original pop Ship of Theseus. Also, awesome just awesome comparison.
posted by lizarrd at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2009


I think Sugarbabes is closer to Heraclitus' river, which you can never step in twice.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:52 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sod Wikipedia references, I want to see "the pop equivalent of the Ship of Theseus" on the next album cover, or at least the concert posters.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:07 AM on November 11, 2009


Babblesort, thanks for adding the autoplay warning, I put together the post on a muted computer. Sorry to anyone caught out by that.

I've added the tags "overthinking" and "plateofbeans", which I somehow forgot.

I hadn't heard of Menudo until now ... when's the Menudopocalypse, then?
posted by WPW at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2009


Honestly, I think that this is better than the conventional alternative, which is to continually create new bands based on the same formula, while pretending that there is something unique about each group.

How is this really any different from, say, Saturday Night Live? We don't expect the same individuals every year. Rather, we expect the same model, even if the cast changes entirely after a few years.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with applying this approach to music.
posted by CaseyB at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2009




I'm sure there's at least a couple of 50s or 60s acts that fall into this category too.
posted by tommasz at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2009


ObXKCD: http://xkcd.com/659/
posted by aught at 12:15 PM on November 11, 2009


Wow. If I ever teach that section of a survey of Philosophy class again, I now have a totally better example than my mother's MGB GT. That car only has one original thing in it - the VIN plate.
posted by strixus at 12:17 PM on November 11, 2009


Great post.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:30 PM on November 11, 2009


Wow. The heretofore undreamed of conjunction of one of my favorite pastimes (extreme nerdery) with one of my guiltiest pleasures (glossy, girly Britpop).

*tears up* It's beautiful.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:35 PM on November 11, 2009


I actually thought of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where all the original characters/voices were gone by the end of the last season.

Mike over Joel, Corbett's Crow over Beaulieu's (but only by the slimmest of margins), and Murphy's Servo over Weinstein's.
posted by Lucinda at 12:41 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sugababes is less scary than Menudo; Sugababes at least waits until their members are adults.
posted by klangklangston at 1:33 PM on November 11, 2009


I would rather become a cast member of Law & Order.
posted by NemesisVex at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2009


After reading a stray comment on Dave Gorman's blog about words he misreads, I can now no longer see the word Sugababe without making an instant mental association with Robert Mugabe.
posted by greycap at 2:19 PM on November 11, 2009


After reading a stray comment on Dave Gorman's blog about words he misreads, I can now no longer see the word Sugababe without making an instant mental association with Robert Mugabe.

Thanks a lot. Now I'm infected.
posted by atrazine at 10:43 PM on November 11, 2009


Here you go, greycap and atrazine.
posted by malevolent at 7:18 AM on November 13, 2009


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