Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wisconsin incident: Music can be misused

I haven’t reported before on this blog about the use of music to propagate a negative political or social message.  However, the media is heavily reporting about the activity of Wade Michael Page in white supremacy music, apparently running a fake “punk rock” band.

CNN has an embeddable video report on the problem (2 min) with Drew Griffin   (and Wolf Blitzer) reporting. CNN has it is a “multimillion dollar industry” but Page did not make money off of it, as he worked small jobs (and got fired from some of them).  Warning: the video does have a very brief excerpt for reporting purposes; the lyrics are offensive.

This sort of "art" is protected by the First Amendment in the US, but not in Europe, where it is banned in most countries.  
Classical music has been misused in the past.  History has many clips of Hitler’s misuse of Wagner and Beethoven in the 1930s, although more of the music at rallies tended to be simplistic “patriotic” marches.  
 The Soviet Union tried to force its composers (particularly Shostakovich) to remain politically correct. Some critics say that the ending of the Fifth Symphony sounds hollow and rhetorical for that reason. (Try the end of the Prokofiev Op 111 for something original.)

In fact, the Soviet National Anthem is quite stirring, and appears at the midpoint of the 1982 epic film “Reds”.  Listen to the Red Army Choir sing it on YouTube, here

I even remember, during my first “experience” in my New York City apartment back in the 1970s, the processional music from Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudonov was playing on my stereo.
Perhaps we need a better National Anthem, not one where the first phrase has to be repeated. 

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