Monday, August 20, 2012

Silversun Pickups and Political Bigotry

Politics continues to divide us. The latest case involves one of my current favorite bands, Silversun Pickups. It seems that the Romney camp played a Silversun Pickups song prior to a speaking engagement, a that was just not acceptable to the band. The band felt that the music was being played without permission, whereas the Romney election folks felt it was covered under their agreement with BMI and ASCAP. 

This sounds like a simple misunderstanding that the lawyers should be able to figure out in short order, but no. It had to get political. The band released a public statement chiding Romney for copyright infringement, and saying nice things like "...we don't like the Romeny campaign," and "We don't bite. Unless you're Mitt Romney!" 

As stated, I like SSPU. A lot. I have a review of a Silversun Pickups concert here and a review of their latest album Neck of the Woods here. Their music is fantastic. 

So why do they muddy the waters with partisan and snide politics? Do they think all of their fans are completely in lock-step with the Democratic party? 

A similar type confrontation occurred when Paul Ryan stated he liked the music of Rage Against the Machine. Rage's front man, Tom Morello, ranted to Rolling Stone that Ryan was "clueless," because of RATM's forward leftist (socialist?) stances. But, as recently posted on a friend's Facebook page, Mr. Morello has a net worth of $60MM, whereas Ryan has a paltry (in comparison) $8MM. So exactly what is the "machine" that Morello rages against? 

Seems to me, with that bank account he's taken from his leftist fans, he's part of the damn machine. 

The bottom line is this: when did it become appropriate for artists to create their art just for some, and not others?  Instead of being concerned about conservatives liking their music, what if SSPU or RATM directed their ire at another group - like gays, Asian-Americans, or women? Naturally, they're be an outrage. As there should be. 

It would seem to me, as an artist, you'd want to pitch a big tent. The more that enjoy your work, the better. Indeed, you'd likely want those that disagree with you to be your biggest fans, as you'd have the best ability to shape how they thought, would you not? 

So why don't bands see this? Could be because they're simply stupid. Could be because they're so insulated from opinions outside of their own that they can't fathom an additional point of view. But most likely it is because they, at their core, are exactly what they claim to loathe - narrow minded, myopic, demagogues that want one set of rules for those that believe like them, and another for their enemies.

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