Thursday, August 19, 2004

Baby, we were born to whine 

Another clash from the cultural front of the political war: the Republican Senate candidate from New York, Marilyn O'Grady, has launched "Boycott the Boss" television campaign in response to Bruce Springsteen's recent anti-Bush outbursts and his participation in the pro-Kerry "Vote for Change" tour through battleground states. As O'Grady says in her ad: "He thinks making millions with a song and dance routine allows him to tell you how to vote. Here's my vote: boycott the boss. If you don't buy his politics, don't buy his music."

The entertainment industry is not amused, even if it's still ignorant.
E! Online calls O'Grady "Conservative Party candidate" before noting that "[t]he conservative Republican is lagging in the polls at present - maybe she just wasn't born to run?" (Update: Thanks to readers in the comments section for clarifying the situation)

O'Grady explains in a
statement that Springsteen "has a right to say what he thinks, but we have an equal right to speak. Now that he's moved onto the political stage to bash my president, it is entirely fair to respond". I've written before about artists and freedom of speech, so I'm not going to repeat myself except to say once again that Springsteen has a right to his political views, but also the obligation to take whatever commercial consequences may come as a result of his statements and actions. Freedom of speech is a two-way street.

Personally, I won't be smashing up my extensive Springsteen CD collection. If I had to boycott every artists on the account of their stupid comments or trendy political views I would lose half of my collection and deprived myself of the pleasure of listening to (the music, not outbursts of) not just the Boss, but U2, Simple Minds, Big Country, Peter Gabriel, REM, Live, Manic Street Preachers and many others. By the same token, I'm not going to begrudge O'Grady her right to call for a boycott, nor indeed try to deny others the pleasure and the adventure of trying to put Springsteen's "The Rising" through an industrial shredder.

If anything, O'Grady has created a lot of extra publicity for herself, which is what those sorts of election-time gimmicks are mostly all about anyway. So whether or not the fans will punish the Boss for his "rocking for change", the ad money's well spend already.

Oh, and apparently, Springsteen's "No Surrender" is said to have become
the anthem of Kerry's campaign. I would have thought that "Dancing in the Dark" would have been a more appropriate choice.


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