Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Media word games...
and the persecuted country music liberal

It always provides a wry smile to my face... watching the choice of words pundits use to dress the facts and manipulate the reader.

Take, for instance, the rallying cries for both sides of abortion. Those against use Pro Life. Logical. Were one to consider the opposition, the first thought that comes to mind is Anti Life.

Well now, that won't work, will it? Accurate as it may be, just doesn't roll off the mental tongue well. So Pro Choice is used. Okay...

Another of the same stripe exists for those for and against the military attempts to stabilize a new Arab democracy in Iraq. The naysayers call it Anti War. And what does the media label those who support the efforts?

Pro War, of course.

Instead of collectively softening the blow of the mindset, as they readily did for abortion rights activists, they delight in labeling everyone as warmongers merely for the sake of war.

Naturally, this is absurd. No one is actually Pro War. A more accurate description would be Pro Defense. Pro Defense, Pro Choice. Get the idea? I'll hold my breath until the punditry picks up on this.

Did you ever notice that any of these cute little labels always leans in favor of liberal/progressives?? But I digress. I told you this story, to tell you about another story. The "big news" in Nashville that the Democrats are going to
"reclaim country music" as their own. Uh huh

Democrats angered at the image of country and western as Right-wing “redneck music” are planning a tour of Middle America during the 2008 election campaign by Nashville artists opposed to the Iraq war.

An alliance called the Music Row Democrats is poised to re-launch itself early next year in an attempt to seize back country music from the Republican camp and spread their message that President George W. Bush’s party does not care about ordinary people.


Music Row Democrats was first formed in 2004, after the Dixie Chicks were boycotted and banned from country radio stations when their lead singer Natalie Maines said just before the Iraq invasion that she was ashamed Mr Bush was from her native Texas.

It now boasts more than 1,300 members in Nashville, the home of country music.

First off, what a message to spread. That conservatives care not for their fellow man. Huh? And wow... this comes from an organization that "boasts" 1300 members? Impressive. Or is it?

Let's see. Population of Nashville, including suburban surrounds, as of 2006 was 1,369,547. That places that "boast" number of dissidents at .00095 percent. Not even 1 in a 1000 of the city's population.

But okay, let's give 'em the benefit of the doubt and just take the actual inner city number... which was, in 2005, at 549,163. Now that "boast" number is at .00236 percent. Just over 2 in a hundred of the city center denizens.

This is something to boast about? Evidently Toby Harnden, pundit of said referenced article thinks so.

Toby had to put a few specifics to that 1300 "boast". And while doing so, self-indulged in the media word game even further.

Slowly but surely, more country singers are performing songs critical of the Bush administration. Merle Haggard, who once sang the anti-hippie anthem “Okie from Muskogee” for President Richard Nixon at the White House has even penned a tribute to Hillary Clinton.

In his “Hillary", dedicated to the Democratic front runner, Haggard sings: “This country needs to be honest/ Changes need to be large/ Something like a big switch of gender/ Let's put a woman in charge."

Pro-war songs like Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" and “American Solider”, and Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten (About Bin Laden)?" still dominate country music stations.

But some country stars such as Tim McGraw – who has said he may run for Tennessee governor – have “come out” as Democrats.

“Republican Blues”, by the bluegrass artist Tim O’Brien, dealt with issues ranging from domestic spying by the US government to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

There it is... that Pro War bit again. Let's add a dash of subtle sour grapes to the portrayal, eh? After that, the big name artists start falling off in droves in the article. Is it because the industry ostracizes the anti war crowd in Nashville like they silence the Hollywood conservatives? According to Robert Oermann, a composer and one of the founders of this impressive 1300 member organization, yes.

Mr Oermann argued that although country artists and fans mirrored the country in being split between Republicans and Democrats, the power of the owners of country radio stations meant that those on the Left side of the spectrum were not eager to speak out.

“Country music artists live in a climate of fear because of what happened to the Dixie Chicks, and even now they are reluctant to come out and say something controversial or not toe the Republican line,” he said.

“I suspect several of the major stars to be Democrats. I think that they won’t say it because that’s their livelihood in jeopardy. It hasn’t become any easier for country artist to say they’re against the war.”

Let's decipher this, putting a clearer picture on just who is the oppressor. In Hollywood, actors are hired by studios/directors/screenwriters. And if they don't like your views, you don't get the gig... thus never having a chance for the free market to respond with positive or negative feedback.

But in country music, what the heck are they afraid of? Record labels are rare today with easy self-publishing. And certainly prominent labels don't throw big dollar performs off the roster for their politics.

In the case of the Dixie Chicks, the backlash came from the public and supported by the radio stations. Believe you me, a radio station will play any song their listeners demand to hear. So if the Dixie Chicks were banned, it's because of feedback from the free market, and not the music industry (like the film industry) itself.

The point? This entire article, including the somber photo of Robert Oermann with the caption, ".. country stars fear airing political views because of what happened to the Dixie Chicks.", whines about those poor, anti war political victims of country music, persecuted by the hard-hearted, pro war majority stars.

Dang... sounds like it could be a country song, eh?

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