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Mixing Music And Politics Essay

2708 words - 11 pages

Many have thought the entertainment world should be separate from the world of politics. Some celebrities go on to be involved in politics, such as Ronald Reagan and Sonny Bono, but rarely does an entertainer command a large sphere of influence in the world of entertainment and politics simultaneously. While entertainers can move the masses, their voice is usually discarded among politicians. In addition to this, many have highlighted the negative influence of the entertainment industry, and particularly rock music, on American culture. Often, it is seen as a corrupting force that leads people astray. For many people, rock and roll seems to highlight all that is wrong with American popular culture. These critics fail to take note of the potential that rock stars have for positively affecting their world.

Bono, of U2, is an example of an entertainer that breaks the rule. Since the early days of U2, Bono has believed in, and pushed for, political change. He has used his status as a pop culture icon to fight poverty and other issues that pose a threat to the stability and livelihood of many of the worlds' citizens. He has proven that rock stars can transcend the cultural baggage that is normally attached to them, and positively impact reality. Bono is an entertainer who has the ability to both move the masses and, at the same time, play an active and effective role in fostering positive humanitarian change.

In recent years, the press has been filled with negative images of rock stars. Nearly every major news magazine has run articles that speak to the negative effects of pop music in regards to racism, violence, and sex. Pop musicians, such as Two Live Crew and Judas Priest have been placed on trial for explicit lyrics. Others have been linked to inspiring riots amongst their listeners (Christenson 2). Religious fundamentalists have labeled rock and roll as the "Devil's work," and have claimed to have found subliminal messages by playing albums backwards. Each year, new books declare rock and roll to be an active force in the moral collapse of American culture. To many, rock and roll has come to be seen as a social menace (Pattison 175-77).

Rock Music has traditionally, among political authorities, been viewed as a medium that has the potential to bring about unrest and revolution among listeners. Even in its early stages, rock music has been seen as a threat to the stability of society. In a 1968 Time magazine article, Robert Sam Ansons declared rock music to be "one long symphony of protest…the proclamation of a new set of values…the anthem of revolution" (qtd. in Wicke 103). While the comment acknowledges the influential potential that rock and roll has, it views it negatively. Similarly, politicians have been out-spoken against rock and pop musicians, declaring they have a negative effect on society. In the mid 1990's, during presidential election campaigns, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton both declared that rock and roll plays a...

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