Can Musicians Have Opinions?
One of the things that has happened in recent years has been the tendency for pop stars to eschew political or other beliefs. (Did you notice me slip the word “eschew” in there casually?)
The reason for this is obvious. If Britney Spears came out as a Democrat, she’d start getting a lot of flack and bad publicity. If she came out as a Republican, it’d be worse. Either way, she’d hurt her career. Why? Because she’d be making people focus on things that matter, and making them take sides. As it is, people can turn off the “beliefs and opinions” section of their brains, and totally focus on the entertainment aspect of Britney. It’s the only way she can survive.
But a lot of this has also been at the pressure of the media. Talk show hosts and politicians sarcastically ask why we should pay attention to entertainers’ political beliefs. What are their qualifications, after all?
(We might well ask politicians what their qualifications are, but that’s another story.)
And it makes sense. Britney Spears knows no more about politics than any other average Joe on the street. She probably knows less. If she started talking about it, she’d probably say some hugely embarrassing things. The same applies to most other pop stars out there. The political statements from them that do manage to slip through are showcases of the ridiculous naivety Americans are known for. They remind me of Anakin Skywalker’s take on politics as expressed in Star Wars: Episode Two. He was telling Padme how he just wished that government could do what was good for everyone. And if they didn’t know what was good for everyone, they should get a big group of people together, and decide. Her response? That is exactly what they do!
But just because pop stars aren’t suited to discoursing on things other than themselves does not mean that musicians in general shouldn’t. In fact, I think one of the problems is that the only musicians who do speak out are espousing another “business-as-usual” political party. The ones with reasonable, logical views keep their mouths closed.
After all, why BE a musician, if not to express my thoughts and feelings to the world? I certainly didn’t start this for the quick money. And, even if I do say so myself, I think that my thoughts and opinions are actually reasonable, logical, considered, and consistent. I’m not out here spouting off about “cute bunnies and the need for political reform”.
Now, I’ll say something right here. I don’t think that either of the two main political parties in America have it together. A lot of musicians who DO have opinions tout the Democrats as their party of choice. So does MTV and Rock The Vote. In doing so, they think they are espousing the revolutionary tendencies that rock & roll is known for. But despite their attempt to portray an image of compassion, the Democrats are just as corrupt, just as pandering, just as dishonest, just as war-mongering, just as poor-hating, just as racist, and just as political as the next party.
These people are selling out their musical predecessors’ ideals. Bob Dylan stood up and refused to be claimed by the socialists of his time. Musicians should wake up and refuse to be claimed by either political party.
Music should stand as a reforming, revolutionary force that puts a check on the blatant materialism and and soul-lessness that politics is known for.