Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sorry, readers

Assuming I still have any.

I haven't been neglecting you completely, I swear. I've been thinking up and drafting all sorts of interesting posts... I've just struggled with that perennial "getting things finished off" issue.

So here's a very quick throwaway post to, hopefully, get some momentum going.

Why has Amanda Palmer's song Oasis generated more controversy in the U.K. than the U.S.?

British broadcasters have supposedly objected to the trivialisation of rape, abortion and religion in the song (and the corresponding music video.)

Now clearly this is a crock. The song trivializes these issues in the same way that, say, Oliver's Army trivializes war and conscription. Well, censorship has a noble tradition of not necessarily

However, the interesting thing is that religion and abortion, in particular, are far, far more potent sources of open political controversy in America than anywhere in the Western World, including Britain. So why is an American song on the topic finding itself on the wrong end of British sensibilities?

Two possible explanations come to mind. First, Britain, indeed Europe in general, is more "politically correct", in a very broad and loose sense of that term, than America. Americans, with their first amendment protected flag burners, and indeed their first amendment protected anti-abortion protesters, are more accustomed to robust differences of opinions on all kinds of things. In Britain, mainland Europe, Australia and so on, people are in general more concerned about offending others.

Second, the broadcasters in question are actually offended because they perceive the song as unflattering in its portrayal of Britpop fans (a category which for a while at least presumably included themselves). The stated reason is just a convenient mask.

Anyone got any other suggestions?

1 comment:

Ronni said...

Interestingly enough, I was having an epic discussion of Amanda Palmer with a friend on IRC last night...

I think you make some very good points here, and I would also add that I think the song makes people feel very, very uncomfortable, because it subverts our expectations of how rape 'victims' are supposed to behave. Victim is the key word - they are supposed to be passive, distraught, destroyed and defined by their experiences. 'Oasis' is a song about refusing to be or do any of those things, shrugging off the mantle of victimhood and refusing to give rape power by treating it with hush, fearful, dirgelike deference.

This makes listeners incredibly uncomfortable, because rape (and in particular, date rape) is something that they'd prefer not to think about, something that makes them profoundly uncomfortable.

Does that make sense?

Also, kudos for the reference to Oliver's Army, which is one of my favourite Elvis Costello songs!