21 January 2012

No Room For A Grey Area

Every single person has a certain set of beliefs, doctrines and moral codes that dictate their day-to-day. The decision to hold such beliefs is one of pure choice. No one is forced into believing in capital punishment or abortion. No one is told objectively how a particular gender should be treated. The important part is that is a choice, thus making it completely subjective. It's a big part of the reason people get so heated about particular topics when arguing their perspective. At that point, you're not arguing your beliefs. You're defending yourself.

Last night, I went to a show to see a band. I've seen the aforementioned band four times now. The first time seeing them was magic (with the exception of a particular "fest" hosting the show that was a fucking joke). It was loud, heartfelt and sweaty. I really felt a connection with the band that I was already borderline worshiping. Given the circumstances of the said "fest" (which, truth be told, wasn't so much a fest as it was a group of grumpy, crusty punks), the band took a stand in between songs about equality in reference to gender and the repercussions inequality can have. I agreed with almost everything they had to say. The band was there to promote equality while playing some rad music at the same time. Two birds with one stone.

Then slowly, between reading interviews with the band, as well as keeping a mental note of the kind of shows they were playing, the band seemed to have become this new thing, this new entity. They seemed to be quickly propelling themselves into agenda-based politics. Over the last few shows, they started playing less songs and talking more, polarizing people like me with their blatant views of homosexuality, sexuality, sexism and equality. To clear myself up, I am a firm supporter of homosexuals, homosexuality, gay marriage, equality for women and so forth. I, in a sense, share the same beliefs as this band (with the exception that I am a straight, white male). Rather, I started losing a little bit of the faith that I had originally had in the band. It all came to fruition last night. To be honest, the show kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Here's why:

When I noticed that the band was talking more about politics and gender-roles than playing the songs we all spent seven dollars to see, I became slightly irritated. Although collectively as a band, they've always shared these ideas, their songs to me were never about these issues. There are only a handful of their songs that you can pigeonhole like that. The rest of their songs spoke to me about life being shitty sometimes and trying to remain positive, knowing full well you might just fuck up again. There music had always been a call to arms for me. Something to give me enough strength to get through the day.

For whatever reason, it seemed that they had found the need to prelude every song with "this song is about...", which then segued into whatever stigma they were trying to denounce. It got really old, really fucking quick. I paid to see the band play the songs I held so dearly. I didn't show up to hear in-depth explanations about the basis of all their songs. I let the lyrics stand for themselves. I am intelligent enough to know when I hear a break-up song. I don't care whether or not its about a straight relationship gone sour or a queer one. It doesn't change anything about the songs.

I began noticing that I was singing along a little bit less. I wasn't in the front row like I have always tried to be. Some of the shine seemed to be gone. A little bit of the magic lost. I didn't even stay for the whole show. We left during their last song. Where I've stood with this band for so long, normally this would absolutely unheard of. Sticking around until the very end lost its appeal last night.

The kicker is the fact that through these very vocal performances, they seem to be unaware of the dividing line they are creating. To this band, these issues seem to be black and white. There is no room for a grey area. There are fans of the band that do believe in the message they're trying to get across, that would die for these beliefs. I am not saying those people are wrong. However, I can almost guarantee that there are a lot of listeners that don't care enough to educate themselves or disagree with their politics and just take the music at face value. This is not wrong either. You have every right to be a "casual listener".

The biggest problem for me personally is the fact that through the long-winded diatribes on stage against sexism and advocating equality, I have started feeling intimidated to even talk to the band (or, rather, the female vocalist). I, in fact, am a straight male. I feel that I would be judged unfairly even talking to her because of this fact. Like I am less of a person because I've "got it made because I'm male" or I'm "not discriminated as much as a queer or a transgendered or a female".

Through these actions, it seems that the band is tainting what I for years what I have held in very high regard, for what several others I'm sure have held with even higher standards. The fans from the beginning. The fans with all their records. If, after last night's show, I'm having these feelings, what's to say that fifty others there aren't thinking the same thing?

Isn't that entirely counterproductive?


  1. How dare you be a white american male! the nerve!

    (seriously though, I'm with you - i'm all about taking a stand for what you believe in, but don't make people feel bad for "not having it as hard as you" just because of who you happen to be... you're a straight white guy, it's not like you chose that because you thought it would be easier! sheesh, everyone knows if you COULD choose you'd marry Chuck Ragan in a heartbeat)

  2. i'm all for people standing up and being vocal about their beliefs. i am, however, against bands bantering and babbling and preaching when i'm at a show. unless they;re brendan kelly.


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