What Role Do Musicians Have in Politics?
    • MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2017

    • Posted by: Matt Guyotte

    Trump is our president. We have a society that is more mistrusting of their government than ever before. We are constantly bombarded by people on social media that tell us our world is going to shit. But we have people to look to for hope. More often than not, those people tend to be performers. Studies show we tend to put trust in musicians and performers more than we actually do politicians and the media because they seem more real to us, more like people that we can actually relate to.

    This is especially true when we grow up listening to our favorite artists, watching interviews of them, and growing to like them especially as people, because they resonate to us on a human level. This is why musicians have a responsibility to be aware of the power of their words. And when we think artists like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and St. Vincent are awesome, genuine people, we actively follow them, and especially now, look to them for their thoughts. Because of that, it's important for them to be the leaders of positive change.

    This doesn't mean that you constantly have to be doing Rage Against The Machine type political acts. Make whatever music you want. Present yourself however you want. No, you don't have to show up naked to Lollapalooza 1993 with duct tape over your mouth to protest the Parent's Music Resource Center, or start playing your songs through a megaphone after the police prohibit you from playing.

    It does help though.

    The reason it helps is because it brings attention of current issues to fans, and causes them to think about it, and makes them more likely to take some course of action to make their society, their world, a better place. And since these musicians that you see naked and protesting up on stage are people that you admire as human beings, then you're naturally going to want to follow the role model that you see in front of you. As performers - the widely considered most trustworthy people in America; this is something very important to take note of.

    Grimes and Sia recognize their responsibility, and they're not even doing huge political acts, but just being decent human beings. Recently, in the wake of Trump's decision to prevent any refugees from coming into the country, and trying to deport any people of the Muslim faith who are already here; these two have decided to actively take a stand against that.

    I donated to the CAIR because of it. I originally had no idea who they were beforehand. And this is why is so important to use your power as a musician in this way. Because even though you may think you're just playing music for people to listen to, you're also playing music for people that respect you as a human being. And in order for there to be hope for people who feel hopeless, musicians need to be a prime example of enduring good in the world. Because for music fans, there is really nowhere else that can be trusted.

    This is why I also believe live shows are so important, because while change is initiated through individuals, it doesn't happen in a vacuum. It needs a whole community of people coming together to have power to it. Live shows build that connection, that power. When you're all jumping around with the same crowd of pissed off, passionate people, there's a sense of togetherness that is felt. We are all in this together. And if we're all in this together, we can make a change.

    And to just totally fangirl some more, Rage Against The Machine did exactly that. In one of the ballsiest but respectable moves in music I have ever seen, they played right next to the 2000 Democratic Convention, opening with Zach De La Rocha passionately proclaiming, "Apparently there's some other show going on across the street here, but it's all sold out." And he got everybody in the audience involved by immediately tapping into their world to bring them into his. Everybody in that crowd felt like they were a part of something that day. And being in a community inspires you to make changes.

    Fiona Apple did something recently too, by singing "Trump's nuts roasting on an open fire," and "Tiny Hands." So did Waka Flocka Flame by wiping his ass with a Trump jersey. So did Run The Jewels by merely existing, and encouraging people to speak up for themselves. There's no shortage of people trying to make their voice heard and encourage other people to come along for the ride. That is what being in a community is.

    As a community of both musicians and music consumers, we should be making the future a brighter place. Musicians don't have to be involved in politics, constantly campaigning for every cause that needs assistance until they burn out. No, but as human beings who eat food that was grown by another person, wear clothes that someone else made, use internet that someone else provides, and as people who are part of a global community - we have a responsibility to recognize it and raise awareness.

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