Jul 24, 2017
Put Down the Beer and Turn Up Your Ears: Roger Waters is a Political Act
by Robert Dean
[Disclaimer: we’re going political. If you get in a huff over opinion, keep on driving, Internet friend. - Robert ]
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, there have been reports of people getting mad at Roger Waters for his political opinions. Seriously. Roger Waters. Recently, Roger Waters swung his Is This The Life We Really Want? tour through southern states and a sizable chunk of attendees got mad at his portrayal of The Trumpmeister.
This begs the question, “Have you ever heard Roger Waters open his mouth?” The guy’s entire catalog is based on politics, around government being shadowy and sketchy. The entire Animals record builds on Animal Farm-like tactics, specifically the song Pigs. But, it’s fascinating to me that a bunch of folks who’ve had forty plus years to pay attention to the persona of Pink Floyd, or even just the content of the lyrics chose to swig on Budweisers and smoke joints, instead actually turning up their favorite classic rock station and pay attention.
By assuming Roger Waters wouldn’t have anything to say about Trump is pure stupidity on the part of the uninformed attendee. The guy’s new album is about Trump and the current state of the world. The Wall album is about 1984 concepts and what it creates as a cultural milestone. And people walked out and booed when someone who’s as on the nose as Roger Waters lays out his opinions.
This is the moment when you should realize popular culture has left you behind. If there’s anything as irksome to me as a creative person as the concept that musicians or artists or actors should “just shut up and do their jobs” I haven’t found it yet. The entire crux of the creative process depends on someone’s world inspiring them -good or bad to produce something for people to consume.
Cultural editorializing is what we do. It’s what Billie Holiday did when she sang Strange Fruit or Stanley Kubrick saw when filming Full Metal Jacket. You can’t be shocked at how someone portrays the world; it’s just your choice of consuming it or not. If you’re pro-Trump, then enjoy whatever artists have aligned their message to support his. If you’re anti-Cheeto, then you’ve got plenty of music to listen to. The reality of the situation is that you can’t tell someone just to shut up and “do their job” when their job is to talk about the world they’re apart of.
Art has always been subjective, and because of its nature, it’s consumed by shared idealism or just general enjoyment. Art bleeds into everyday life regularly, almost seamlessly because we value it so deeply. We praise our heroes for taking a stand, or just reward popular culture with celebrity. (See: the Kardashians, electing a reality show mogul to President, Justin Beiber having a career.)
But, still, comment sections are filled with vitriol spewing keyboard warriors exclaiming that artists need to keep their mouth shut. And sign about what exactly? Does every song need to be a caricature of "Click Click Boom" for it to hold water?
Woody Guthrie taught us to never bow down to our masters, and Joe Strummer taught us to throw a verbal Molotov cocktail. Rage Against The Machine built armies of free thinkers, while Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, and Big Momma Thornton taught us that a woman moves to her current.
Pay attention to the actual messages instead of assuming your agenda is the right one. Just because you vote one way or feel like something goes against moral fiber, it was your choice to stay blind in spite of the evidence.
Roger Waters isn’t the new guy. You just need to pay attention.