Monday, October 27, 2008

left behind.



The title of this post is taken from a popular series of fear-mongering books about the Rapture. Kirk Cameron starred in the movie. One of my college roommates was reading the series. Somehow, somewhere, people enjoy these books, which include such plot devices as an activist group battling the literal Antichrist.

The idea that all devout Christians will be taken from earth to be with Jesus and all us sinners left behind sounds positively lovely to me, actually. But what I find more apparent is that it's the conservative Christians who are being left behind. Culturally, technologically, and politically. I was thinking about this point while listening to "Two Weeks" by Grizzly Bear, one of my favorite songs ever. You can tell it's going to be epic by the beginning few notes. They performed it on Letterman and, though live, it sounds phenomenal. Aside from the clapping at the beginning, nobody would be able to tell it was live simply by listening to the mp3. Observe:


The reason I bring this up is that most of the members of Grizzly Bear are gay. They write songs about gay lovers, they use "his" and "he" in love songs rather than "her" and "she". They're also one of the most critically acclaimed bands on the indie scene, where nobody bats an eye about their sexuality. It's hard to imagine a conservative Christian enjoying their music as intensely while believing that these men are engaging in "vile" acts by "choice". In fact, most members of indie bands are outspoken liberals. The Knife and Metric sing about leftism; Regina Spektor and all members of the Arcade Fire are registered Democrats. I googled "liberal indie bands" for reference, and I came upon an NPR poll from February of this year wondering if all indie bands were this way.

Writer Bob Boilen says, "I don't think I've met a young, creative musician who was not politically left of center. " And the comments reflect a similar mentality. Boilen wonders why this is, and commenter EP says,

"It's hard for me to conjure up a lot of canonized 20th C., non-classical musicians who were raised in environments that would foster what is (currently) considered conservatism. Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Woody Guthrie, Charlie Patton, etc... The processes of censorship, Social Darwinism, and (in Freudian terms) sublimation that neo-conservatism has aligned itself with ignores the causes of poverty, sexual/drug abuse, and social injustices (see Bush's proposed budget for 2008). And it just so happens that a great number of popular musicians dealt with these issues before they even picked up an instrument."
Another interesting comment comes from Jesse M., who I can certainly relate with:
"While I certainly fit your theory as a left-wing lover of DeVotchKa and Delgados, my friends who lean more towards the punk lean more towards the republican and libertarian. My new favorite band, Black Jake & The Carnies (americana with a hint of punk) are staunch supporters of Ron Paul."
I know a lot of liberal guys who like punk (Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, the Dropkick Murpheys), but a few conservative/libertarian ones, too. I don't know a single indie rock lover who is also an admitted conservative.

This quote from John McAteer is definitely true:

"If you just look at indie rock fans and their political leanings, it will seem like there is a connection between good music and left leaning politics. But if you look at left leaning people as a whole and see what they listen to, you'll be surprised at how much crappy music pops up. Arcade Fire fans are most likely left leaning, but are they more left than Dave Matthews Band fans?"
I can't imagine it's a welcoming scene for Republicans to enter. With websites like Barack Rock!, where indie musicians donate music and design in an effort to elect Obama, and music projects like Rock Against Bush (which included CD compilations and live shows), I can understand their trepidation. But I also think that a lot of the music these days, whether it is in protest to our current president or about things like gay rights, is a bit uncomfortable for them to listen to.

I find it funny that McCain's campaign used songs by Heart and the Foo Fighters, only to have these artists harshly criticize and distance themselves from the Republican party. Sure, the McCain camp had the legal rights to use these songs, but why not pick a musician who shares their stances? I think it's because, beyond Ted Nugent, the fellowship of conservative musicians is largely a pop-country-music-oriented scene. This doesn't help when McCain is trying to appeal to the youth or middle America, who find current country music as unpalatable as the rest of us. I'm not talking about Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton, two country musicians with much more progressive views and enjoyable music. I'm talking about Toby Keith, who wrote a song about 9/11 with the lyrics, "We'll put a boot in your ass the American way". Blegh.

Beyond music, I can't imagine what it must be like to be a Republican trying to enjoy culture. Even Homer Simpson voted for Obama (you could argue that he is a stupid character, but Matt Groening is an admitted huge liberal). Jon Stewart and Colbert have done a brilliant job in skewering the McCain campaign. Tina Fey, everyone's favorite female comedian these days, has said that she plans on "leaving Earth" if the McCain/Palin ticket wins. Ellen Degeneres, everyone's second favorite lesbian these days (Rachel Maddow has trumped her!), has been very vocal about her opposition to Sarah Palin and Proposition 8, which would make gay marriage in California illegal. Even the Wassup? guys have made an Obama commercial.

Where is the conservative humor or mainstream solidarity? The only funny conservative endorsement I can recall is when Chuck Norris stated his love for Mike Huckabee. Other than that, can you think of any?

On a broader scale, their views are contrarian to current scientific thought, such as evolution and sex education. In a brilliant New Yorker piece, Margaret Talbot tells us that:

-The vast majority of white evangelical adolescents—seventy-four per cent—say that they believe in abstaining from sex before marriage.

-But, according to Add Health data, evangelical teen-agers are more sexually active than Mormons, mainline Protestants, and Jews.

-Furthermore, evangelical Protestant teen-agers are significantly less likely than other groups to use contraception.

-More than half of those who take such [abstinence] pledges—which, unlike abstinence-only classes in public schools, are explicitly Christian—end up having sex before marriage, and not usually with their future spouse.

-According to the sociologists Peter Bearman, of Columbia University, and Hannah Br├╝ckner, of Yale, communities with high rates of pledging also have high rates of S.T.D.s.

A national study shows that abstinence-only sex education is ineffective. On the topic of abortion, even The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association, and the American Medical Women's Association say that partial-birth abortion (a misnomer for intact dilation and extraction) is at times medically necessary.

Where do they turn? Though I don't think there is a "liberal media" out there, plain old facts just seem to add up against conservative beliefs. This explains why they go to these beacons of conservatism, like Fox News, for the information they want to hear: because they can't get it elsewhere.

A part of me feels bad about this fact, that American conservatives are an increasingly marginal voice in mainstream American media, but mostly, I just want them to get with the program. Especially Kirk Cameron.

Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks

5 comments:

Blackjack Billy said...

Not all of the members of the band, Black Jake & The Carnies,(mentioned in your post, are supporters of Ron Paul, nor are they all Repulicans. The band does cover a wide range of political affiliations, but speaking for myself only, being the drummer/washboard player, am casting a vote for Obama. We, as a band never inject any political themes, or anything of the sort, into the music. We just like to have a good time, and play music, while sticking to subjects such as werwolves, murder, banjo pickin' demoniacs, and such...but if you want our instruments, you'll have to peel them from our cold, dead hands...and watch out, because I swing a mean washboard.

clarafier said...

south park is probs the best conservative (and liberal for that matter) satire. richard dawkins, al gore, etc.... so i don't think it's that it can't be done, it's just not done well enough.

clarafier said...

ps. toby keith is a democrat

allison said...

Hey, Blackjack Billy! Thanks for writing!

Clara, I thought about South Park, too. But they make fun of everyone, so I don't know if that counts. Same with Penn and Teller, who are libertarians.

Re: Toby Keith being a Democrat, that's so weird!

Blackjack Billy said...

Yeah...when I read an interview with Toby Keith about being a democrat, I almost fell off my chair! But hey, I've had my ass kicked more than a few times by good old boys, so maybe "a boot in your ass" IS the American way. I agree with the South Park/ Penn & Teller humor points...both of those camps do it right. Nothing like holding a mirror up in front of somebody to show them what's up. Extremism is such a two way street. Don't claim to be an open minded, liberal person, if you think that everything you hold to be true is actually true...that sounds pretty close minded to me...