Music as a Political Force

During the upheavals of the 1960’s, music was a powerful force of change. Many popular songs talked of the need for elimination of racial discrimination, cessation of the unpopular and immoral war in Vietnam, the injustices of the government, and immoral policies of the industrial leaders. These topics were, of course, a main subject of the Folk movement, but were a central topic of most American rock acts as well, albeit from a different angle.

Sure, there was plenty of “fluff” foisted upon us as a way to allow kids to experience rock music in a way in which the government approved – remember “bubblegum?” Hardly any convincing social commentary there!

Then came “disco,” and the resulting focus on how good someone looked when attending the local nightspot, rather than anything that the songs had to say. It was suddenly more important just to be seen at the trendy club of that week than if the lyrics of the songs talked about anything at all. In fact, the most popular things played in the clubs were “club mixes,” where a non-vocal groove was extended ad-infinitum. Nobody listened to the words, cared what they talked about, or even if there were words at all! As long as the coke flowed, and the dance floor and disco lights were available, the crowds were happy.

To counter this sugar-coated pablum, “punk” came on the scene. Once again, song topics ranged from typical teenage angst to injustices in society – mostly protests against “class” status. After all, Vietnam was no longer an issue, the “civil rights” movement had pretty much wound down, and the economy seemed to be fine.

Then came the death knell to most meaningful music – MTV. Now, not only did not matter what the subject of the songs were, it didn’t matter if there was any real substance to the music either. It was more important that the bands’ videos were good quality, the band was good-looking. On top of all that, it was almost a priority that the song talked about nothing at all, since it had to once again fit in a 3-4 minute slot, and still leave plenty of space for pictures of the band and scantily clad young women. “Video Killed the Radio Star” indeed.

Fast forward 25 years – where is the protest in music now? MTV no longer plays videos, but has relegated itself to spewing out “reality shows” that are as far removed from “reality” as is possible. The government-controlled media feeds us nothing except barrages of news about Brittany Spears, in the hopes that we will actually become interested in her. Hardly a bastion of political controversy, and therefore the government deems her safe for the public to hear. The “Nu Metal” movement had some potential for political commentary, but appears to be more determined to just eat itself with non-focused anger, which many of its fans seem to focus on themselves, rather than any justifiable and logical target.

Where is the commentary on government abuses? Where is the outrage over the on-going wars in the Middle East? Where is the shock at the constant and on-going corruption and abuse of power by the government?

How is it possible that out of the entire younger generation, which will be most affected by the unConstitutional actions of our government in the economy, infringement of our rights, and constant meddling in foreign affairs, nobody has anything to say? Do they not know what is being done to them? Do they not care how it will affect them? Or, are they just too chickenshit to say anything about it?

I have a 4 year old, and I certainly hope that his generation is nothing like the current crop of “young adults.” I hope that his generation will stand up for themselves, because the current batch of 20-30 year olds apparently don’t have the balls to even think about it.

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2 Responses to Music as a Political Force

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