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8:53 p.m. - May 27, 2006
Celebrity Mouthpieces - Bah!
I was just previewing a mix for someone that I will send out shortly, and I was struck by one of the songs that I chose.

It’s one of the only overtly political songs (from a modern era talking about modern issues, though the song is over 10 years old) that I put on mixes. I tend to shy away from political statements on my mixes, for the same reason that I don’t like talking politics on this here site. It’s divisive, and it could make enemies out of friends.

(But the reaction to my “Moral Stew” trilogy was great – which means I have very sensible and smart readers, which I appreciate greatly, and one of my best friends at work, the QB, disagrees with me on almost every political issue – so perhaps I should dip my toe into it. However, there are many other sites that do that, so why add to the clatter?)

The song was “Born To Choose” by the Mekons, and while I agree with the message, I also like it as a SONG (with the way the violin carries the main riff through it – and it goes through some interesting changes along the way). To me, the song trumps any political message in the song.

Of course, this week the Dixie Chicks are on the cover of “Time”, and that reminded me of the huge, huge flap they caused with their statements, and the article was all about how country radio won’t play their new single, and how they could lose fans, etc.

Neil Young is also in the news because of his newest single and album (which I haven’t heard yet and probably need to get to after the first of the month. I need to make a list, really, because I didn’t realize the Mission of Burma also released another record, so….I digress) explicitly calls for the impeachment of Shrub, er…W.

Of course, some of the talk radio screechers don’t like that one little bit. “He’s Canadian”, they say. Well, yeah. But you wouldn’t like it if he was from Topeka, either.

I always read letters to the editor, postings on places, nattering nabobs on the TV and the radio, complaining about “Hollywood” and how they have no business in talking politics.

Of course, they never complain about that when “Hollywood” sticks up for THEIR side.

And they never complained about Neil Young when he voiced his admiration for Reagan AND Bush the Elder. (Don’t believe me – he did. He really did. Much like Paul Weller supported the Conservatives in Britain in an interview in the mid 70’s.)

They act like this is a new trend – actors and musicians speaking out on politics and current events.

Well, kids, it’s not recent all.

Art and politics have forever been intertwined, and they always will be.

Artists will always make political statements, whether in their work or now, because the media is so accessible, in the press and online.

Look back at art history, even recent art history. (I’m no art historian, not at all. But I have done some reading about it.)

Some of the most subversive, powerful, evocative works were made early in the 20th century. These pieces (art and music) caused riots! Panic in the streets!

It wasn’t long before film became a medium of controversy, not to mention eyeball slicing.

And it didn’t take long for despots like Stalin and Hitler to realize the power that art, literature and cinema can hold, so the banning began.

Many people who decry the recent trends of actors, musicians and others in the arts speaking their minds about politics and current events have an ear for the music of their youth – the 60’s and 70’s.

Well, what kind of music was popular then?

Political music – protest songs – songs that made you think and listen at the same time.


Movies deserve to be made that make you think and question your beliefs. Everyone needs a good shaking up and a good reality check. Of course, a well made film shouldn’t bludgeon you over the head with its ideas – it should let the meaning come to you subtly, and if it’s really well made, it should be balanced in its portrayal.

I thought “Citizen Ruth” was brilliant in that regard – showing both polar opposite sides of a debate as clowns that used Ruth as a pawn. It didn’t take sides, really, as far as I could see.

There needs to be art, photography and music that make political statements. Without that free expression of ideas, then everything we’ve fought for has been lost.

Yes, I know, this allows for some really hateful garbage to be released, but so be it.

You know, I don’t care about what George Clooney really thinks, nor Barbra Streisand, nor any other artist and musician. I think it’s great that they are allowed to express their views, and I find it funny that people with microphones and notepads ask people like that about these subjects, and they cover the press conferences of these stars announcing their latest cause like it’s a major motion picture event.

If they want to waste ink and video on those things, be my guest. It doesn’t influence me a bit.

I only care about their art, their work. I can ignore their politics (even if I agree with what they are saying) because when I see their work, or listen to it, I don’t think about their stance on free trade, or the Alaskan Wilderness, or land mine eradication.

And their stances won’t stop me from buying or viewing their stuff either.

Sure, I know where Tim Robbins and Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon stand on some issues, and I agree with them on some issues. But I think it’s silly not to enjoy “Bull Durham” because of what they say as private citizens. And I really don’t care what they think in the long run, because what they think does not matter to me. It doesn’t influence me – not a whit.

I disagree with almost every political view that Charlton Heston or Ted Nugent espouses, and you know, I’ll watch “The Planet of The Apes” or “The Omega Man” any time it’s on the TV, and I will rock out to “Free For All” or “Wango Tango” when the iPod decides to play it.

Johnny Ramone was a card carrying conservative Republican, yet he’s still a God in my eyes. One-two-three-four…

So, on this Memorial Day, where we honor people who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, remember that everyone has a freedom of expression. And it’s not their fault if some people are more famous than others, so people ask them what they think about certain issues.

The next time I hear a mediot talking head say, “Nobody cares what they think!” in response to some celebrity expressing their views, I’ll say, “Well, I don’t care about what you think either!” and turn off the channel, and let them and their network know about it.

Or perhaps it will work best if I ignore them, like I ignore Fox News. (“They report, I deride!”) Because all they want is to know they have an audience. Why give them the satisfaction?


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