Saturday, October 02, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: ROCK STARS--IS THERE ANYTHING THEY DON'T KNOW?
Others are like me--shooting off their mouths on subjects they know very little about. And that's fine. I think everyone is a democratic society are entitled to express their opinion, regardless of how ignorant or reckless it is. It doesn't bother me when regular folk write letters to the editor, call into talk shows, run for office etc. In these cases, one person's opinion is just as valid as mine. All [wo]men all created equal, hands across the world, live long and prosper, blah blah blah.
But there's one thing I can't stand: the bully pulpit.
What is a "bully pulpit", you ask? Its when people use their position in society to preach a particular position and/or influence people. Regular people like you and me. Some examples: a pastor telling his parishioners to boycott a certain store he doesn't like. A professor speaking on the "ills" of a particular religion. And a rock star telling his fans how to vote.
It seems the braintrust at MoveOn have organized the "Vote for Change tour", which held a concert last night in Philadelphia. Big stars like R.E.M., sewage-spilling Dave Matthews, Keb'Mo (whoever the hell that is) and of "The Boss" himself, Bruce Springsteen are all telling us to vote Kerry in between sets. That's a bully pulpit.
apparently, according to Bruce, we're in a "crisis in democracy", which is why he's telling us--to vote. I've heard a democracy is really in trouble when it holds elections every four years.
Now let me be clear: I'm not saying he shouldn't have an opinion. Quite the opposite. I encourage people to speak their minds in any medium. But his opinion holds no more weight than mine. He reads the papers like I do, he has access to the same information that I do and he can speak his mind like a regular person. But not as a rock star. I think there is an illegitimacy when movie stars, musicians and basically all of Hollywood use their massive resources to try and influence the outcome of a democratic election.
I don't have a movie studio. My album is only really selling in Denmark. I don't have a Entertainment variety show (yet). So, how can I compete against Bruce Springsteen. I think its unfair and unhealthy when people deliberately use their (unelected, unaccountable) positions of influence to sway voters. There are no spending limits on a concert. There are no filters to them spouting lies if they want to. There's no one to counteract what they say. And that's not right.
If Michael Stipe wants to voice his opinion, he can write a letter to the editor just like the rest of us. Until he and others demonstrate to me that he has the experience, knowledge and has done the research necessary to legitimately comment on the election, foreign policy, or the economy, then he has no business doing so. He wields a very powerful weapon--his fame. And frankly, he hasn't shown me that he's got his facts straight.
If you're going to have musicians encouraging people to vote, then at least have both sides represented. Although admittedly, I think a "Pearl Jam/Ted Nuggent" bill might depress sales a little bit.
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