Monday, October 8, 2007

Springsteen vs. O'Reilley

I have a confession to make. To admit the forthcoming fact to any other living human being, let alone myself, is somewhat akin, in my own mind at least, to getting an enema by way of sea urchin, but it serves as the basis for a short rant.

I watched "The O'Reilley Factor" tonight.

Now normally, neither sheer morbid curiosity nor the promise of untold wealth and omnipotent knowledge could persuade me to watch that glorified Macy's Day float's noggin ramble on and on about the evils of liberal media. The reprehensibly short-sighted nonsense that unfurls from Bill's mouth makes about as much sense as a 21-gun salute for Jerry Falwell at the Maryland Death Fest (you may not know what that is, but it doesn't sound pretty, now does it?). Tonight, however, my interest was piqued beyond the point of reason.

I was on the elliptical machine at the YMCA, burning off some M&Ms, when I saw a preview for The O'Reilley Factor set to air that night. For the first 15 seconds, it was pretty predictable: torture is OK as long as we know its going on, Obama won't wear an American flag pin and therefore is a fascist baby-eater, yadda yadda yadda. After that, however, something managed to break through the daydream I was having about drinking stouts in the mountains with Angela Gossow (gorgeous, aloof, and terrifying lead singer of melodic Swedish death metal group Arch Enemy...for those playing the home game) after having won the Pulitzer for my epic poem Do Dogs Have Communes on Mars?

The headline flashed up before me like a neon sign gone retarded--The Boss: Anti-American?

"The Boss," of course, refers to Bruce Springsteen, arguably the greatest Americana songwriter of this generation, and the "Anti-American" refers to not only his having been staunchly liberal and outspoken during his entire career, but also to recent comments he made in an interview with Scott Pelley in which he decried the torture of terror suspects, the rampant wire-tapping of the Patriot Act, vote blocking in the 2000 election, and more.

Now, it doesn't bother me that much that O'Reilly calls Springsteen an anti-American, or says that the things against which the Boss is railing never really happened. Those are easily refuted by anyone with a high-school education and a computer, so we'll leave that dead horse alone for a while...till I get bored. Hell, it doesn't even really bother me that O'Reilley called Bruce to task on his comments, demanding that he come on Bill's show and back them up...Bill knows that Bruce is on tour, and is going to be for the remainder of the year. Such is the nature of his occupation; and how safe it is for O'Reilley to say something like that when he knows full well that there isn't a chance Springsteen can get away from his tour for a few minutes so that he can tell Bill O'Reilly where to stick it.

No, what bothers me is this paraphrase: "Bruce Springsteen and other high-profile musicians like him use their occupation and their music to try to convince the country that their own personal position on things is correct."

This from a pundit who goes on national television several times a week and calls "BULL!" to anyone who disagrees with him--and is usually right.

This from a pundit who makes a living bullying his guests.

This from a pundit makes a living telling people what to believe and where to stand on issues.

This from a pundit guilty of almost as much double-talk as the administration he so blindly and vehemently supports.


Mike Ruffin said...

Come on now, why don't you tell us what you really think?

I have a slightly different opinion about singers and actors and their political views.

First, this is still a free country and they can say whatever they want, praise the Lord and the Constitution. Of course, so can O'Reilly and anybody else.

Second, I sometimes wish they wouldn't say so much. My reason: folks take them way too seriously. I frankly don't care what Springsteen or Ted Nugent or Sean Penn or Natalie Maines think about much of anything so when they speak, I pretty much don't listen. And, my decision on whether to buy their music or watch their movies is based entirely on taste and never on my agreement or disagreement with them. Heck, Charlton Heston is way too pro-gun for me, but I will always stop to watch his amazing performances in Ben-Hur, The 10 Commandments, Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes, and, of course, Wayne's World 2.

Third and finally, artists are better served when they make their politicial statements in their songs, poems, novels, and films. That's their medium and that's where their words can have the greatest effect.

Think of the moral of the sad Sinead O'Connor story: "I may not agree with what you sing, but I'll defend to the death your right to sing it; but--when you tear up the Pope's picture on live national TV---now, that's just stupid."

Joshua Ruffin said...

I understand where you're coming from on that, but he can't help what questions he's asked during an interview. Springsteen doesn't really go around parading his views in prose form, at least not until that performance on the Today Show...true, he could have said something like "Well, just listen to the songs if you want to hear what I think on this or that..." but I think most people would just answer a question if it were asked of them.

Though he's been a celebrity for going on four decades now, I doubt Springsteen really takes into consideration his high-profile status; that's his own fault, but asking an artist to self-censor when asked a pointed question ("Are you worried about this album being perceived as anti-American?") is a bit unfair.