Rage Against The Ryan ???
I’ve been thinking about these questions today because of an interesting and somewhat amusing story that came out this morning about one of Rep. Paul Ryan’s favorite bands. In recent days, one of the facts that was fun for the media to talk about while discussing the selection of Rep. Ryan as Romney’s VP pick, is that Rep. Ryan is a big fan of Rage Against The Machine (RATM). For most, there were obvious reasons to find this an odd choice for a man so linked with defunding programs for the poor and helping cut tax rates for the wealthy. However, the story really took off this morning with the posting of an Op-Ed in Rolling Stone from RATM guitarist Tom Morello. One of the more choice quotes:
I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “F*** the Police”? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!*
* – The censoring is mine. Kids might be reading this blog!
All of this, however, raises an interesting hypothesis. In the ensuing discussion, I got into a bit of a Twitter discussion/fight with one of my favorite political analysts, Joe Scarborough. At some point in the discussion, @JoeNBC made the following statement: “And every listener interprets, distills and takes from the art what she chooses.” Joe’s broader point is that you can’t cram art and music into an ideological box, that all art is open to interpretation.
My simple question is whether that really is true for all art? You see, I agree with the broad idea that art is open to interpretation, and a lot of the journey for art lovers is arriving at their own meaning of said art. However, I think that for some art, this simply isn’t possible.
When thinking this through, I first though about Hip-Hop. Plenty of people have argued in the past that their problem with a lot of rap is the lyrics, glorifying the drug game, violence against women, etc. When pushed, a lot of people respond, “Well, I don’t really pay attention to the lyrics.” So could this be the same argument used in defense of Ryan’s love of RATM?
Thinking of RATM, I think the answer has to be no. A lot of hip-hop artists would not be offended if large portions of the audience didn’t agree with or relate to their lyrics. This is because that many of them are admittedly in it only for the money, and have no other broader social agenda. RATM, however, has almost an ENTIRELY social agenda. They actively participate in political and protest activities with the aim of furthering the lyrics of their music into actionable events. You also can’t cherry pick out certain lyrics or songs like you possibly could with most hip-hop artists. Every single RATM song is a broadside against the political views and personal beliefs of Rep. Ryan.
Which of course brings us back to Rep. Ryan. What is going through the mind of a man who holds Ayn Rand up as a personal prophet when a song like “Killing In The Name” comes on? I really would like to know how he mentally engages a band that he specifically cites as one of his favorites, when every single song is a broadside against the beliefs he holds dearest.
I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks.
Thoughts at the Closing Bell:
- Today is officially my last day at GradesFirst. I’ll be shipping all of my office equipment off this afternoon, and Monday I’ll be staring my new job as a Network Relationship & Account Coordinator at the law firm of Fenwick & West. I’ve really appreciated my time at GF, but I’m definitely excited about the possibilities of this new job. I’ll be connected directly with some of the most exciting activity happening within Silicon Valley.
- In thanks to the signing bonus that came with the new job, I’ll now also be heading to Dallas in two weeks for the college football season opener between my #1 and #2 favorite college football programs, Michigan and Alabama. More than that, I’ll be there with some of my closest friends and fraternity brothers, Patrick, Patty, Buckley, and Michael. What a Labor Day weekend!
- The Tigers have been playing great; sadly, so have the White Sox, and so the Tigers are still 2.5 games back in the AL Central.
- Hot Cheetos and Takis. That is all.
That’s all for now, kids. One love to you all.