Today I was waiting in an airport cafe, contemplating how pleased people feel about themselves as I walked past the ‘exclusive’ airport lounge earlier in the day they went into; slightly more comfortable seats but effectively the same as any other seat outside of it, when I heard some terrible raggaton music being pumped over the speakers. I’m not against any form of music. Far from it in fact, as my side career as a musician encourages me to listen to as many different genres as possible. However on any gauge, this music was truly awful. The production was intentionally as inoffensively pop treble as one could imagine, the lyrics meant nothing whatsoever, the structure couldn’t have been more generic if they’d tried & the actual talent of those performing it was negligible at best.
Although I didn’t need to wonder as to how this garbage had ended up being pumped into the ears of unassuming airport users due to my understanding of how major labels have been trying to vertically integrate the entire music industry from composition to distribution, I did wonder how no one ever seemed to question how music had devolved so much from the crusading days of decades past. As the world as we know it today started to take shape through both the overt & covert conflicts that were unassailably easier to conduct in the days before the internet gave us proliferation of information (& to a lesser extent misinformation, although that’s another post altogether), people looked for & musicians expressed themselves through excelling in an area, infusing it with the product of them; their flavour was instilled by their very personal experiences of their pocket within the world. There was no homogeneity, as people firstly knew about, gave priority to & experienced what was happening in their own backyard. While opportunity was still heavily controlled by the prime days of the record companies & any sensible musician wouldn’t turn their nose up at any money making opportunity, the essence in the music itself was far more pure. N.W.A really were a bunch of disaffected street kids from the projects, expressing themselves in the only way they knew how – how they would on those same streets. Freddie Mercury, the self taught singer of Queen who himself fortold the dilution of the general musical summit era he had found himself a part of, sang specifically about the genuine issues he faced with a conflicted sexuality, then the need to hide that as the band grew at the behest of their label & finally, his struggles with loneliness & the condition which ultimately took him from us. The oft quoted example of Kurt Cobain also, whose depression & dependence on drugs fuelled so many of his songs & again, ended him, much in the same tragic way as the great Chris Cornell recently.
Even those who presented their music in a more commercial frame, were underpinned by struggles of gender or race when you dig a little deeper into classic works by for example, Dolly Parton or Sammy Davis. And while sadder music does tend to be more popular, we also had activists like Public Enemy & Rage Against The Machine who had real causes behind what they did, unafraid of judgement with a righteous, fiery belief underpinning their talent, which even if you didn’t fully agree with, you couldn’t help but respect. To hear the fury behind the voice of either of Zack De La Rocha or Chuck D as they poetically delivered beautiful rage, & backed their performances with participation in grass roots, real world causes was a true sight to behold.
The age of information has started to mitigate unchecked power or lies, that was previously unchallengable in those previous days. Despite what I or other people criticise about the way of the world now, it is now undeniable that even the average person has access to tools of potential power. Practically anything can be learnt from almost anywhere should one apply oneself properly. And at least in Europe, life has improved somewhat generally. In the absence of tyranny or dictatorial ambition, on a normal level places are safer, goods are more accessible & means to make money are more available (albeit still far from perfect).
And therein lies the crux of the problem; the application of the self. Most people exist in either state of total accepting ignominy, non-questioning complacency or are obsessed by petty causes that no longer require a fight.
Systemic racism, does not exist in the overwhelming majority of western or developed countries. It exists less so than ever before, as globalisation means we are already on to second or third generation immigrants across the world. It was an issue during & soon after both slavery & colonialism. Incidents of racism are isolated & because of idiocy, rather than systemic. Idiocy can occur in any race & any race, can be identified as racist. Any discrimination on basis of a difference in origin or colour is racism, & these are generally only isolated in their occurrence in the modern developed world. No one is obligated to emotional or tangible repatriation for events before they existed.
Feminism; the same. Any struggles once endured by the female population of the modern developed world are again over, & not systemic. Any incidents you may experience are in isolation. All opportunities that have been open to men, are now open to women, & any slurs or discrimination you promote against men are unacceptable & will no longer be tolerated. Phrases such as ‘all men are rapists’ are equally as utterly indefensible as ‘all women are whores’, & any exponent of such hate should expect the same punishment or retribution should that statement or action be repeated with the genders simply reversed. Reverse discrimination is still discrimination & marginalises the groups you discriminate against, simply exacerbating the problem. But perhaps without, you wouldn’t have a purpose would you?
Before, people knew hardship as technology didn’t enable every convenience. From hardship, grew anger & then, the seeds of determination to further oneself. From disadvantaged determination, grew belief & purpose. Purpose then, was rooted from where it grew; in the grounds of inequality, lack or wherever else within that person it became. They fought with vigor & if people supported their cause, it was because they identified with the champion of it, who had illuminated them to it. Even if that cause was not one they had undergone themselves, the realisation of what had previously gone unknown by the supporter & identification of that cause’s widespread legitimacy allowed them to authentically support it, until it was commonly realised.
Now, we have career champions. In much the same way as Marylin Manson intentionally raised his notoriety through well managed shock value tactics & made millions from his music as a result, we have idiots creating & subsequently championing causes that do not commonly cause concern among the populace, & are not identified with nor supported as such. Instead, these false causes are a vehicle for the ego, as we see careerists nurture the falsehoods they claim to exist, simply to stay relevant. They perpetuate a myth, mostly leveraging the hive mind mentality of the internet (mostly through social media) that appears to anyone, to have reached hysterical levels of relevance to the normal person trying to continue their normal lives against genuinely tangible challenges, like povery, unequal wealth distribution, corporate & government corruption & unfair taxation. Desperate to stay relevant in an age wherein they are constantly fighting an uphill battle, other forms of mainstream media latch onto these false causes & perpetuate them to reasonable, well meaning people who, at the risk of offending anyone to what they perceive has suddenly become a real issue, find themselves having to operate in a society where they have to be aware of everything they do at risk of being accused of ‘micro aggressions’ or some such.
All we essentially have now, is online popularity contests for long dead issues; divisive opinion over divisive opinion to win meaningless online debates, with no one listening. Meanwhile corporations, conglomerates & governments do as they wish, taking advantage of the infighting to place themselves best in the name of profit.
Wearing an armband saying you support ‘X’, often does nothing more than put profit in the pocket of ‘Y’ who made that armband. Changing your Facebook picture with an overlay of a flag or of a political allegiance, does nothing more than enhance the amount of information Facebook will then sell to their ‘trusted partners’ they mention in their terms & conditions you probably didn’t bother to read. Organised, tangible action has always been & always will be, the only means of enabling real change.
Those of you who read this, probably appreciate what I’ve mentioned here, & so I ask you to at least further these concepts to the unwashed masses who don’t even consider the concepts above. If nothing else, an aware person can make it their purpose to educate others. While thousands in the US consider the impact of what Kim Kardashian is wearing today or what micro aggression a teacher committed, equal thousands of Icelandic citizens successfully demanded the resignation of their Prime Minister after discovering he had stashed away millions of untaxed earnings in offshore accounts.
Open your eyes & unite against those who covertly take advantage at your cost.