GrrRl & Politically Purchasing Power

rayrena rayrena at
Mon Oct 19 11:12:08 PDT 1998

>Mike also wrote:
>>Here you are taking a groupe that was concocted,
>>no doubt by men, to
>>sell records, etc. plain and simple. About as
>>radical as you can get.
>>right. If the level of discussion cannot rise
>>higher than this,we are
>>in trouble. If you want to see how radical the
>>girls and boys who
>>listened to this crap get when they are older,
>>come visit my classes.

This all reminds me how clueless leftists are when they try to find dissent in mainstream cultural icons. Last year The Nation did their music issue. In it they tried to prove the positive, rebellious aspects of the Spice Girls. It was a joke, though I can't say I disagree with all they were saying. The point is, why do we have to look for cultural disssent in Madonna and the Spice Girls when there is plenty of real dissent out there? Why can The Nation recognize the political importance of Chomsky, Cockburn--to name a couple of well-know non-mainstream commentators--but they can't recognize the cultural importance of such (truly dissenting) voices as Stereolab, Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Fifth Column etc. Many of you might be saying, I don't know who these people are. And that is exactly my point: The stuff is out there, you just have to look a little harder.

The point about girls and boys listening to this crap and its effect on their radicalism is, well, crap. When I was a wee teen growing in Podunk, Nebraska during the Reagan Years, I turned myself on to Bob Dylan. He did not inform me of all my radical beliefs; rather he caused me to dig a lot deeper. "With God On Our Side" did not tell me all I needed to know about the hypocrisy of our hatred toward the Soviet Union, but it did lead me find out more about the Soviet Union and communism; it did lead me to find out more about what really drives American policy, both foreign and domestic. Dylan led me to a lot of things, but he did not give me all my information.(I was also aided by the help of a couple of high school teachers ("my classes') who knew how to push me and who knew how to help me.) So the Spice Girls aren't going to be the platform for revolution, but neither, as Mike seems to believe, are they going to prevent it.

>Well, hmmm, me thinks we are in the same boat here
>as the politically correct list of foods and
>beverages. Which is to say, are there any points
>of escape, any havens free of
>capitalist/gender/racial oppression?
>Shall we construct a hierarchy of politically
>correct music that folks are allowed to listen to?
>Who decides? Who polices? More importantly, what
>groups are available--mass consumption-wise--to
>listen to that *aren't* produced mostly by men in
>order to sell records. Of course, I could only
>ever listen to local live artists of various
>genres--the do-it-yourself (DIY) kind--and I do,
>but then I have to pay too--generally--cause
>*someone* has to make money in this process and
>lord knows these folks are probably bound up w/
>some sort of disgusting firm that is a union
>buster/sexist/racist/etc or advertises repellent
>products that are affiliated w/ union

A lot of leftists don't know this, but there has been an underground rock movement in this country going on for twenty years, and these people are not "bound up w/ some sort of disgusting firm that is a union buster/sexist/racist." Sure, some of these people in the independent movement are money-grubbers, but for the most part they are people who work really hard to do good things, and do so for very little recognition and even less money (no matter how you slice it, it's hard to make money when you sell 5000 records). You don't necessarly have to like the music or the movement; in fact, i think a lot of it is crap. (No one in the underground approaches the greatness of Dylan, but if you want to know of someone who comes close I suggest an 80s group called the Minutemen: politics with the biggest heart this side of Woody Guthrie.) But I also think it is valuable for leftists to know it is going on and to recognize its importance. And more importantly, to stop feeling we can only debate about people that sell ten million records.

>I extend my sincerest SnitgrrRl apologies for
>having raised an issue that folks on this list
>think is unworthy of discussion. I just wasn't
>thinking, I guess, and I'm truly sorry that I've
>lowered us to the gutter--to the point of talking
>about something *other* than the state of the
>economy, financial markets, and legitimate radical
>concerns which I guess are *only* worker's
>struggles. Funny, though, I kinda took to heart
>the introductory LBO message

I liked the discussion. Obviously it got people talking, and that is always good. I could care less about the subject, but I am glad you raised it Snitgrrrl. To me it increased the subjects of debate and probably made people think about a subject they hadnt thought about much. That only increases the range of dialog, something the left could use a lot more of. So please don't be offended by what Mike says, especially since he probably tuned music out the day Bartok died.

>Again, perhaps this post is a little rude, but I
>felt that your posts were dismissive as well. I
>send this to the list with the hope of generating
>more discussion and am sincere about the questions
>I raise.

And valuable questions they are. I think you admit to a level of unknowing and open-mindeness a lot of people would not reveal. That's brave.


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