Thursday, June 1, 2017

Roger Waters Unafraid of Controversy Expressing His Anti-Trump Views

It's a familiar story, right?

An artist produces something remarkable, that offers something unique, a different perspective. Some people are attracted to it, and there begins to be a buzz about them. Then, other people grow attracted, but a good deal of the new people are attracted to the excitement, to the buzz surrounding the artist, rather than the art itself, and hat it implies. This disconnect starts to grow, until it grows all out of proportion. Before long, all that the art is about is basically lost in a sea of hype, and whatever the original meaning was is lost.

Perhaps this happens with all arts, although it seems particularly prominent with music, probably because music is able to move people in a more immediate and emotional way then most, if not all, of the other arts (at least this is true for most people).

And so, it no longer really comes as a surprise. Truth be told, it was not that much of a surprise to begin with, anyway. I remember seeing the new wave of alternative musicians merge in the early nineties, particularly the "Seattle scene."

While I was not naive to the fact that many people were attracted to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden for their heavy music, and how they became the "cool" bands that were "in" and frequently played on MTV, I admit that it came as a surprise to me that so many people were completely oblivious to what they were trying to say. Each of these bands was against the traditional machismo and sexism of heavy metal bands. Perry Farrell, himself not a Seattle product, but definitely of the same mindset as those bands, came up with the idea of Lollapalooza, but felt so strongly about what it was supposed to represent and, perhaps more tellingly, what it was not supposed to represent, that he resigned when Metallica was included in the 1996 lineup. He felt that their excessively macho, tough guy image was not in keeping with the spirit behind Lollapalooza.

It seemed ridiculous to me that people would get so worked up and upset when Pearl Jam expressed their political viewpoints in Denver and then especially in Uniondale, a concert that I attended, and reviewed many years after the fact here on "The Charbor Chronicles." After all, they have always, always been a political band, from the first. Vedder appeared with a self-made coathanger t-shirt on SNL in '92, and then, at the end of the performance, he turned his back towards the camera and lowered his jacket,to reveal a "No Bush '92" statement that he had printed out on the back of his t-shirt. They had expressed political viewpoints on numerous other occasions, too. Why the sudden shock?

And so it seems equally absurd that now, Roger Waters fans are acting shocked and angry that the notoriously political singer is expressing his anti-Trump views in a very clear, unambiguous way. Supposedly, some fans left immediately in protest, and some even stuck their middle fingers up towards the stage, and towards Waters.

But here's the thing: Waters has never made any bones about not only his political views, but also in his desire to express them, as well!

When I saw Waters years ago during "The Wall" tour in 2010, people cheered wildly during the song "Mother" when he asked the question in the lyrics, "Mother should I trust the government?" and there, written on the wall, were the words, "Hell No!"

That they could agree with, as Americans are notoriously skeptical of government, to the point that it goes to unhealthy extremes where they seem to think that anything is better, including corporations who now largely rule the country.

So clearly, they had no problem with that. What many people get offended by are views that do not expressly agree with their own political viewpoints. Much like those who walked out during the Pearl Jam concert in Denver in 2003, or those who also walked out and/or booed at the Nassau Coliseum concert that I attended about one month after that, the people who walked out or reacted angrily when Waters clearly expressed his anti-Trump stance are being a bit disingenuous. Waters has always been a political artist, and expressing his views is part of his act. Always has been, and yes, it always will be. If they turn a blind eye to that, then that's on them, and not on Waters, because they cannot fairly say that they were not warned. At best, they can say that they were not paying attention.

Frankly, that would be about the size of it. Those are surface fans, who just like the music, and want to pretend that it's just the music, and nothing else, that they like about Waters and/or Pink Floyd. but since it is art, it expresses far more than just catchy music. It says something. Waters is trying to express his views, and originally, "The Wall" album was all about a figurative, but very real, wall that existed between artist and audience, as well as the artificially constructed walls that society places in between people, to keep everyone separate, and which fosters distrust and, yes, hatred.

How could you not expect Waters to use the whole obsession with a literal wall being built between the American and Mexican border, when this idea generated such controversy and sparked such outrage and hatred to begin with?

Let me guess: it's okay when Waters roots for the wall of communism in Berlin to fall back during the days of the Cold War, but now that he is targeting Trump's wall against Mexican immigration, he should just keep his mouth shut?

This is ridiculous, and completely against the spirit of free speech! It seems that increasingly, Americans feel that free speech implies the freedom of speech that they agree with, and are showing more and more vehemence and intolerance to speech that they do not agree with.

A sad sign of the times. 

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters begins tour in Kansas City with an all-out attack on Donald Trump  By Walter Einenkel   Tuesday May 30, 2017



  1. Well, the problem with people and their understanding about free speech is that a lot of them fail to remember ...Freedom of speech goes both ways and in the United States people will let you know if they don't appreciate it. Celebrities have every right to say what they want, but that doesn't mean the rest of the country isn't going to let them know what they think.

  2. True enough, although I would argue that when people yell obscenities at musicians for expressing unpopular viewpoints, such as I witnessed at the Uniondale Pearl Jam concert in 2003, or what happened more recently with Roger Waters, those people are showing a decided lack of objectivity and intolerance. And also, I would take exception to the implication that "the rest of the country" disagrees with Waters on this point. In fact, about two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Trump and the pitiful job that he is doing. So, this exaggerated response to the anti-Trump views of Waters by neocon fans at the concert hardly constitutes "the rest of the country."