Shock: Top Musicians Lack Moral Integrity

via the media lens message board, I see that ‘stars’ are ‘[lining] up to apologise for Gaddafi gigs‘.

[Picture taken down: I can’t bear to see it here. It was the first one from the above link – ed.]

Believed to have sung four songs at a New Year’s Eve party for Gaddafi’s son Mutassim on the Caribbean island of St Barts in 2008.
Paid: Reportedly $1m
Apologised: Yes
Money returned: No, but will donate proceeds of forthcoming single to human rights charities
Comment: “I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess.”

I notice that, of course, they’re only apologising now that Gaddafi’s name has been suitably blackened in the press.  I’m waiting for the day Beyoncé begs our forgiveness for singing to Barack Obama (did Noel Gallagher ever show regret for shmoozing with Tony Blair?) Likewise I don’t see any of the big names refusing to take Israel’s blood money (thereby granting them a form of cultural legitimacy, one assumes), in spite of significant grassroots pressure.

Further, I notice that it’s only the women who have apologised and/or given the millions of dollars they received from the Libyan dictatorship to charities or ‘good causes’; presumably it doesn’t damage the male brand so much to ‘hustle’ with strongmen in this way and then stay silent about it, like it was the most normal thing in the world. In some ways it probably is the most normal thing in the world – musicians are practically raised on a diet of “never turn down work”. Certainly they were never trained to be picky about who employs them and for what reason. Having a conscience will impede the growth of their careers.

For one commentator on the message board, all this shows ‘The complete moral (and artistic) bankruptcy of the ‘music industry’ ‘. For me it’s more evidence of the depressing, unforgivable, Good German inability of people (at least of those selected to ‘make it’) to question the social role of their line of work, whether it’s fluffing up the rich & powerful, distracting the masses with glitter & flash, supporting myths of aspiration (‘New York / concrete jungle where dreams are made of / there’s nothing you can’t [or is that ‘can’? – ed.] do‘) or whoring their talents to advertisers and manufacturers that pollute our minds and toxify the total environment, etc etc etc… The manifest lack of politics in their lives and in their music* makes a political statement in itself. They will sell themselves to anyone.


I’m going to go play my guitar now.


* – In ‘What happened to rock under Blair?‘ Alexis Petridis writes:

Plenty of artists have political causes, but they don’t seem to write many songs about them. Chris Martin wants to Make Trade Fair, but he clearly feels it’s more expedient to write that on his hand than to sing about it on a Coldplay album. Dozens of artists recently put their name to a CND advert decrying the replacement of Trident – everyone from Razorlight and Kaiser Chiefs to rappers Sway and Roots Manuva – but I’d bet none of them write a song about it.

I remember seeing Razorlight play at a climate change rally in London once. They did the one that goes: ‘in the morning you won’t remember a thing’. It seemed strangely appropriate.


One Response to “Shock: Top Musicians Lack Moral Integrity”

  1. ondisturbedground Says:

    The same board commentator, ‘Hidari’, writes in a subsequent post referring to this CiF article:

    […] my point isn’t that no one still produces worthwhile art, obviously they still do. The point is that the means of production and the means of dissemination are almost all controlled, nowadays, by large (mainly American) corporations. As the author of the above piece points out, the internet was supposed to put a stop to this, but it hasn’t worked. There is a sort of ‘beneath the underground’ scene, but these people, almost by definition, don’t sell. How could they? The corporations have a stranglehold of almost everything. And this means that people’s ‘taste’ is not innocent any more. The cultural options that people have are constrained and controlled by corporate power. And this in turns means that the sort of art/music/film that we get only ever bears the political messages that large corporations are happy with. Hence the almost complete disintegration of political movie making (with the exception of documentaries) and political song. (‘‘Underground’, ‘Mainstream’, all culture is now capitalist culture.‘)

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