Archive for November 7th, 2007

Anti-Iranian Music

Lately, the local radio station has been playing not one, but two anti-Iranian pop songs, presumably in recognition of the current administration’s attitudes towards that country. One, of course, is the long-forgotten Beach Boys cover “(Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb) Bomb Iran”, a mostly forgettable piece of 1980s musical history that might well have remained appropriately and blessedly forgotten were it not for John McCain. The other is the oft-confusing, oft-confused 1982 single from The Clash, Rock the Casbah. While the song has very, very little to do with Iran itself (and can be said to beautifully illustrate the stereotype of westerners not being bothered to understand the middle-east) the line “drop the bombs between the minarets” was enough to make it popular during the first gulf war (along with, strangely, War, by Edwin Starr), and seems destined to keep it in heavier-than-usual rotation during these days of endless saber rattling.

I find it interesting that contemporary political music (by contemporary, I mean “since the fall of the Soviet Union”) has all but died out in the mainstream, commercial markets – and what there has been has been either rabidly patriotic, or almost equally rabid towards the local government of choice (be it American, British, or Australian, depending on the nationality of the band) and its domestic policies. Today’s anti-war music is a drop in the bucket compared to the output of the ’60s and ’70s, and the few musical diatribes against any foreign policy are the exception, rather than the rule.

I’m not sure what the explanation is, but I suspect there are three main causes: One, the global reach of the internet has at least a small part to play; to paraphrase a U.S. Navy report on kids today, “their best friends might be Chinese”, and it’s hard to hate people you’ve learned are very, very much like you. Too, since the global cold war against communism ended, the few international conflicts have been directed largely at individuals (Slobodan Milosovic, Manual Noriega, Saddam Hussein) or subnational, non-ethnic groups (the Taliban, the warlords in Somalia), and it’s hard to get people whipped up into a frenzy against such “enemies”. Lastly, contemporary diplomacy has largely done away with the ridiculously over-the-top rhetoric that characterized the cold war. Sure, right after September 11, 2001 we had the “Axis of Evil”, but it’s been years since we last heard that one. What does the Bush administration say about Tehran? That they’re secretly developing weapons of mass destruction, and supporting terrorists abroad? Oooh, scary. That’s a far cry from some of Reagan’s hyperbolic descriptions of the Soviets in the early 1980s, and hardly enough to whip anyone not a Fox News commentator into a frenzy…

Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on November 7th, 2007 | Comments Off on Anti-Iranian Music