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Author Topic: Music and Politics  (Read 11349 times)

bryanthelion

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Music and Politics
« on: 08 Mar 2008, 20:31 »

Music and politics are a fickle pickle.I know this has been around for centuries, I just recently (recently meaning five seconds ago)got into the fray after reading an article about Bjork voicing her opinions about Tibet during a concert in China. Do you think Musicians have the right to tell countries what to do? Do you think she was being respectful while in China? Do you think they arent doing this for political gain?
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a pack of wolves

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #1 on: 08 Mar 2008, 20:45 »

I don't see why musicians should have less of a right to voice opinions on politics than anyone else. Music, like almost all art, is primarily a means of communication. It's inescapable that this communication will often have a political element whether the artist wants it to or not so there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that. As for Bjork not being respectful, I'm having a hard time thinking of any reasons why she should have any respect for the Chinese government. If she said nothing she'd be open to accusations of cowardice and hypocrisy, so I'd say her voicing her opinions was fair enough.
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bryanthelion

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #2 on: 08 Mar 2008, 21:03 »

I dunno,

If I were performing in a different country, I would have the mentality that I'm a guest at their home. Saying things about Tibet in china is like saying, "That vase looks like shit, and it looks like sewage with those drapes near it." at someone else's home.
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Hat

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #3 on: 08 Mar 2008, 21:06 »

I think a more important question is "Why would Bjork perform in China if it is committing these atrocities that she feels so strongly against?"
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #4 on: 08 Mar 2008, 21:15 »

Because it's not the concert-going peoples' fault that their government are a bunch of atrocious fucks, there's no reason to punish them. Plus maybe if she says these things, it might get people to pay a little more attention to what their government is doing. Like it or not, people tend to listen to pop stars and celebrities and take moral cues from them.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #5 on: 08 Mar 2008, 21:16 »

I dunno,

If I were performing in a different country, I would have the mentality that I'm a guest at their home. Saying things about Tibet in china is like saying, "That vase looks like shit, and it looks like sewage with those drapes near it." at someone else's home.

Not really. It's more like having a word with them about the six dismembered postmen you found in the fridge when you went to get a beer.

Besides, China, the Chinese government and the Chinese people are all different things. Criticising the government's actions does not mean that you criticise the people, particularly in a country like China where they have no control over their government beyond staging a revolution. And speaking personally I'm never offended when foreign bands make a few choice comments about the British government. In fact, I welcome it. It's always nice to get a little solidarity from people around the world.

Hat's question is a good one. Question is, what effect would Bjork refusing to play in China have? Would that serve a purpose? I'm not so sure it would, at least not unless she was willing to set up a boycott on a larger scale. Making remarks about Tibet while in China on the other hand will definitely annoy the Chinese government, which is always a good thing.
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Hat

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #6 on: 08 Mar 2008, 21:47 »

Yes, if only we had thought of mildly annoying governments that invade and occupy other nations, I suppose we might have solved the worlds problems  a lot earlier!

Because it's not the concert-going peoples' fault that their government are a bunch of atrocious fucks

I would like to vehemently debate this point with you on MSN Dovey, since doing it here would basically erupt into full blown politics debates and this thread is going to survive as long as we avoid that.

Hat's question is a good one. Question is, what effect would Bjork refusing to play in China have?

It would make her immune to criticism of hypocrisy, for making money off of a country that she considers to be despicable enough to take  a strong political stance on? Not cause a certain amount of stimulation to the Chinese Economy?
« Last Edit: 08 Mar 2008, 21:55 by Hat »
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #7 on: 08 Mar 2008, 23:27 »

I take your point, but I doubt a singer from Iceland has the power to do anything more than slightly annoy any government. Even that's far more than most people could manage. I'd love to be able to say I've ever been anything but a very slight irritant to any of the organisations I oppose, but truth be told I doubt I've even done that. I'm not trying to suggest that Bjork saying a few things about Tibet at a concert is going to do much, but I also don't think it's bad she went there at all. The obvious comparison would be the cultural embargo against South Africa during apartheid but that was different, there was a massive movement which cut them off from a vast array of cultural connections. Boycotts are only effective if they're undertaken by significant numbers at a time, if a few scattered individuals do it the effects of their refusal to engage are negligible. They can also have negative effects. For example, some Isreali academics who've produced work critical of their government have had a hard time getting their work published in international journals due to the partial academic boycott of Israel, and I don't think that's very helpful myself.

In Bjork's defense you have to balance out slight stimulation of the economy with the possible positive of being a dissenting voice in a country. Not playing there might make her immune to an accusation of hypocrisy but on the other hand it isn't getting involved with a situation she obviously feels strongly about either. Also, making money from a country whose government's actions you disagree with doesn't necessarily make you a hypocrite. If it did anyone who dissented in their own country would be open to that accusation.
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The Viz

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #8 on: 09 Mar 2008, 01:12 »

It's one thing to express your viewpoint in a respectful manner and another to try to force your ideals on others.  Sadly, most musicians who try to take some sort of political stance end up belonging to the latter group.  The main offender that comes to mind in that case is Billy Joe Armstrong, whose self-righteous high-school-dropout politics have gotten increasingly irksome in recent years.  It's fine to use your art to raise the issues or whatever, but when you decide that you are the sole arbiter of all that is right and wrong and that anyone who disagrees with you is somehow an inferior human being, you cross a dangerous line.
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Hat

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #9 on: 09 Mar 2008, 01:14 »

If you would like to find a specific instance of Billy Joe Armstrong saying someone was an inferior human being for disagreeing with him about politics, that would be really neat!
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The Viz

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #10 on: 09 Mar 2008, 01:25 »

The song American Idiot is pretty much that; all Americans - except of course for good wholesome extremists like himself - is a propaganda-eating, homophobic redneck.  It's okay to disagree with people's beliefs or whatever, hell, dissent is what causes progress, but generalizing huge groups (side note -- Mr. Armstrong was raised and California and knows shit about the people he's stereotyping) and degrading them to some ignorant stereotype is bullshit.

I think the problem is that extremists tend to make up the majority of musicians talking about politics in their work.  As an uber-moderate, I find it difficult to respect someone who adheres to either far end of the spectrum.  That's where you get intolerance and hate on both sides.  Nobody sings songs about how "this isn't great, but it's kind of okay" because nobody wants to listen to music about listening to others' opinions and being an all-around reasonable guy.
« Last Edit: 09 Mar 2008, 01:30 by The Viz »
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #11 on: 09 Mar 2008, 06:17 »

I already explained this in the Green Day thread we had not too long ago, but I'd have to look for it. That is NOT what American Idiot is about. The "American Idiot" of the song is NOT the stereotype that you are referring to, but the 'everyman' that he relates to on a personal level. People are taking select lyrics from a song out of context and interpreting his 'clever' metaphors literally.
Did you know, White Rabbit is actually about drugs? Did you also know that Billie Joe Armstrong is not an "extremist" by any stretch of the word? The same applies to the majority of musicians talking politics in their work. Making a song about your political beliefs is by no means an "extremist" activity. Deeming anybody who says something like 'the president sucks and the war is bullshit' in a song a political extremist seems pretty ignorant to me. Green Day are no more extremist than I am.
The 'politics' in Green Day never extend beyond social observation and commentary. There is no preaching, there isn't really any 'hate' or 'intolerance'. Just disappointment. Their music, their choice. Nobody is forcing anybody to listen to opinions, so there's no point in complaining about somebody vocalising them. Whether it's Bjork, Green Day, you or me.

Politics in music are just opinions in music.
Opinions in art and music? I'm for it.
Let's all have cake.
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Hat

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #12 on: 09 Mar 2008, 06:21 »

No way I only listen to music about cold hard, empirical facts.

FOR EVERY ACTION
AND THIS AINT NO AXIOM
MY HOMIE NEWTON SAYS THAT THERES AN EQUAL REACTION
« Last Edit: 09 Mar 2008, 06:27 by Hat »
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #13 on: 09 Mar 2008, 06:45 »

If I go to see a musician and instead, they rant about politics, I will be pissed off.
Likewise, if I go to a political debate and they whip out a guitar and play music, I will be pissed off.

I'm fine with people expressing their political views in a song (if thats what gives them inspiration and passion, then all the better) - if the musics good, I don't give a fuck what they're singing about. But giving speeches about your beliefs or doing other stupid political stunts is going too far, imo. If I you want people to listen to you rant about politics, become a politician. People are listening to you for your music, not because of your political stance.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #14 on: 09 Mar 2008, 06:47 »

Most of the time, when a musician says something about politics, I wish they'd just shut up.

Of course, I could say the same thing about politicians....
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MadassAlex

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #15 on: 09 Mar 2008, 06:54 »

Megadeth?

Megadeth.
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Hat

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #16 on: 09 Mar 2008, 07:03 »

Most of the bands that mouth off about political shit between songs are pretty bad anyway so I figure that is your punishment for liking terrible bands.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #17 on: 09 Mar 2008, 07:06 »

Yeah, if they can't write the political content into songs effectively then that sucks, but hey now we have U2.
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pilsner

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #18 on: 09 Mar 2008, 07:56 »

But then they're the folks who are doing it right.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #19 on: 09 Mar 2008, 10:58 »

No way I only listen to music about cold hard, empirical facts.

FOR EVERY ACTION
AND THIS AINT NO AXIOM
MY HOMIE NEWTON SAYS THAT THERES AN EQUAL REACTION

In all seriousness, I would totally listen to music like that.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #20 on: 09 Mar 2008, 10:59 »

If I go to see a musician and instead, they rant about politics, I will be pissed off.
Likewise, if I go to a political debate and they whip out a guitar and play music, I will be pissed off.

I'm fine with people expressing their political views in a song (if thats what gives them inspiration and passion, then all the better) - if the musics good, I don't give a fuck what they're singing about. But giving speeches about your beliefs or doing other stupid political stunts is going too far, imo. If I you want people to listen to you rant about politics, become a politician. People are listening to you for your music, not because of your political stance.

You might not be interested in what they have to say about politics but some people are. Personally I don't think gigs have to be limited to just musical events. I think theatre, spoken word, visual displays etc are all perfectly acceptable, and that includes talking about politics. Some things can be incorporated into song lyrics and how those songs are recorded, released and performed live but other things don't come across well like that and it can be good to provide a little explanation. I love it when bands do that, tell you a little about what a song or their music in general is about when they're playing or in the liner notes. And speaking for myself I have no desire whatsoever to become a politician but my music is a means by which I express my political beliefs and I don't see anything wrong with talking about these things when I'm playing a gig. If you don't want to hear that's fine, go listen to some other band, but I don't think it's taking things too far at all.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #21 on: 09 Mar 2008, 13:09 »

Bjork and China: She is right but I also agree with Hat, on the other hand, Elf has to eat

Billie Joe Armstrong: Sadly, I must say that my experience with most US Citizens proves him right, it's amazing how people can work homophobia and racism in conversations about their wireless internet. Now, clearly it's not everyone, i've met a huge amount of awesome people from the US, but based from 4 years ago, I do think that at least 50.7% of them are idiots.


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Patrick

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #22 on: 09 Mar 2008, 16:11 »

Whether or not Billie Joe is correct in his scathing reviews of Americans as a whole, it doesn't make him any less annoying for going around crying "sheeple". I have always hated people who do that.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #23 on: 09 Mar 2008, 17:42 »

Megadeth?

Megadeth.
New Megadeth at least, I vote we hit Mustaine upside the head with the lyrics to Holy Wars and Peace Sells until he gets the right idea again.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #24 on: 09 Mar 2008, 17:52 »

Some of the lyrics on RiP were pretty ridiculous (seriously, 'retrograde them'?) but they seemed to result in better music - so by all means, go ahead.

If you don't want to hear that's fine, go listen to some other band.

But that's the thing. It's not advertised on the posters as "3 hours of pure rock - and then 30 minutes of us pushing our political beliefs down your throat!". If the public was informed beforehand, then by all means go ahead - if you knew and you went, then you have no cause to complain. It's when they use a concert which is 95% full of people who just came to listen to their music to talk about politics that annoys me.

I don't see why it's so hard to separate the two - have a gig for music, and then another event where you can stand around and talk about your beliefs for a while. That way people only see what they want to see - and they know what they're getting into.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #25 on: 09 Mar 2008, 17:56 »

Oh, I was speaking specifically about the two songs, as they both got the political message across without ruining the music. I still have difficulty making out some of the words on those two albums, though, I expect he would be able to sing better while playing that fast now, with more experience.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #26 on: 09 Mar 2008, 18:02 »

I dunno, he's probably a bit sloppier now because of the whole hand injury thing.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #27 on: 09 Mar 2008, 18:28 »

Mmm, true. So... before then he could have done better. Actually, I have That one Night on my computer, I can see if he does those better than on the original recordings.
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Patrick

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #28 on: 09 Mar 2008, 18:34 »

I think everybody here should listen to "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" by Kinky Friedman.

It is easily the classiest piece of music ever written by man.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #29 on: 09 Mar 2008, 18:36 »

Likewise, if I go to a political debate and they whip out a guitar and play music, I will be pissed off.

I do not think you are being honest with yourself here.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #30 on: 09 Mar 2008, 18:54 »

I think everybody here should listen to "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" by Kinky Friedman.

It is easily the classiest piece of music ever written by man.

Ahahahahaha, what.

Holy hell.

I see your Kinky Friedman and raise you Marty Friedman!
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #31 on: 09 Mar 2008, 18:59 »

But that's the thing. It's not advertised on the posters as "3 hours of pure rock - and then 30 minutes of us pushing our political beliefs down your throat!". If the public was informed beforehand, then by all means go ahead - if you knew and you went, then you have no cause to complain. It's when they use a concert which is 95% full of people who just came to listen to their music to talk about politics that annoys me.

I don't see why it's so hard to separate the two - have a gig for music, and then another event where you can stand around and talk about your beliefs for a while. That way people only see what they want to see - and they know what they're getting into.

Thing is, I have absolutely no interest in keeping the two separate. In fact, I'd like if it art was more integrated into political debate since I don't think speeches and essays are the only way to communicate about politics. I also don't have much interest in art which only gives to the audience exactly what it wants and expects, that sounds pretty dull to me. Most of the best gigs I've ever been to I've walked out thinking 'I wasn't expecting that'. And really, when was the last time you went to a gig and the band talked about politics for half an hour? I have a great interest in bands who are very vocal about their political beliefs but I've never seen anyone talk for that long. People start getting antsy if a band talk for longer than a minute in between songs. Besides, does the responsibility not lie with the audience to find out about the band before seeing them if they're very picky about the experience they encounter? If someone was to complain to me about talking during a set I'd say it was their own fault for going to a DIY gig in the first place if they don't want to encounter politics.

I suppose what I'm wondering is why is it so offensive to hear a band say a few things about politics?
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #32 on: 09 Mar 2008, 20:54 »

Likewise, if I go to a political debate and they whip out a guitar and play music, I will be pissed off.

I do not think you are being honest with yourself here.
I don't know, didn't John Kerry play a few songs at a campaign stop once?

That wasn't exactly exciting.

And it's my personal opinion that as long as you don't make politics the central conceit of your band (such that it takes precedence over the music), you're probably okay. I'm even cool with a little dumb sloganeering as long as I can dance to it.
« Last Edit: 09 Mar 2008, 20:58 by Kid van Pervert »
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #33 on: 09 Mar 2008, 22:25 »

When those bombs start fallin
On the first day of World War Three
I'm gonna grab me a girl
And fuck her
Yeah yeah
Yeah yeah
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #35 on: 11 Mar 2008, 23:10 »

Damn, I love The McLaughlin Group.
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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #36 on: 11 Mar 2008, 23:32 »

I think everybody here should listen to "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" by Kinky Friedman.

It is easily the classiest piece of music ever written by man.

Made even classier by the fact that the band's full name is Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #37 on: 11 Mar 2008, 23:40 »

Damn, I love The McLaughlin Group.
Yeah, the Mahavishnu Orchestra's p fuckin great






Or did you mean Shakti?
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Patrick

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #38 on: 12 Mar 2008, 05:02 »

Made even classier by the fact that the band's full name is Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys

Well, I mean, if you're going to be the only Jewish country 'superstar' (I had never heard of the guy until freshman year) you might as well go all out. And this is the same Kinky Friedman who runs for Texas governor every election and actually got pretty far this last time. I adore the man.
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karl gambolputty...

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Re: Music and Politics
« Reply #39 on: 12 Mar 2008, 08:00 »

Don't forget, he's also NYC's greatest detective.   God his books are amazing. 
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