The Pixies are Terrorists? Part III

Here’s part III in ‘the Pixies are Terrorists Saga’ – which is honestly set to be the best third episode in a trilogy since X-Me…Spiderm….Well, in a long long time.

So as you all remember, back in part II I discussed a few of the issues surrounding the question “how it could be believable that the Canadian government would actually label a band as terrorists for canceling a gig?”

Now I’m going to try and tackle the other question I raised at the end of part I, “what are the implications for a term like “cultural terrorism” being used by a promoter when a band backs of a show?”

Well first off, the person that used the term “cultural terrorism” was the promoter of the canned show, Shuki Weiss. Now, I’m no Don Draper, but (take a huge breath) someone in charge of getting popular international acts into a specific domestic market using that term when a band backs out over possible political factors rings like something straight outta Madison Avenue in the early 1960s. Maybe Shuki Weiss hired these people to work for him:

And second off, before going further into the Pixies committing cultural terrorism, what about the band that didn’t?

The Editors, the band set to play with the Pixies in Tel Aviv, went ahead with their show. The Pixies, after canceling their performance without giving a specific reason, have stayed quiet on the whole thing (if you want to read something by someone who hasn’t stayed quiet, here’s a letter from Elvis Costello). The Editors, on the other hand, were quick to promote how great their show was in Israel. Here’s an excerpt from a post a band member put up on their website forum after the show:

Tonight we played one of the most memorable shows of our career, 1004 people  singing their hearts out, 1004 people who hope for peace and resolve wherever the troubles may be, be it on the door step or the other side of the world.

Well great, you played your show and it was fun. Ok fine, so it was really fun. And maybe you were on a post show high from how great it went – BUT how do you know what the 1004 people think? Sure, maybe they like you music, but can you instill idealistic political beliefs that you may have onto such a large group because they can sing along with your songs?

As was mentioned by a reader in the comment section of part I – maybe the Pixies backing out of the show was “good business sense” rather than politically motivated, and they were simply “trying their hardest not to alienate anyone.” What seems to be even better business sense, however,  is what the Editors have done. They seem to really be hyping the show they played in Tel Aviv, and they are definitely taking a side whilst also assuming all their fans are with them. Putting their politics onto a fanbase that more than likely doesn’t all agree with them on how exactly the problems in the Gaza Strip should be solved is a bit of a dangerous thing, isn’t it?

There’s also been some chatter on the Pixies still playing a show in Arizona even though they canceled in Tel Aviv…making them hypocrites. Even if they did cancel the gig in Israel for political reasons, does that mean they should cancel every show in every part of the world where someone might be taking issue with a political concern? If you think that both the Israeli government and the Arizona lawmakers are out of line, that doesn’t mean the Pixies have to agree with you just because you can sing along with their songs. That’s putting your politics into their music.

Placing a political view onto the audience. Placing a political view onto a performance. People set to make money off both weighing in on what it all means (with extreme bias). It’s all very confusing. Gosh, I wish Margaret Atwood would dispense some wisdom on this subject like she seems to do with everything else…

…oh wait, she has. When she was named the winner of the Dan David Prize in Israel in May and was pressured to decline the award, Atwood said “we don’t do cultural boycotts” and “that to snub the honor would be tantamount to ‘throwing overboard the thousands of writers around the world who are in prison, censored, exiled and murdered for what they have published.'” So in order to heroically honor those writers, Atwood gracefully accepted the 1,000,000USD prize. And she even shared it with one other award winner!

Atwood gets an award and cashes in. The Editors get to headline a show and get all kinds of publicity over it. The Pixies back out of a gig without a specific reason and get labeled cultural terrorists. If the Pixies are indeed back together to sell out and make heaps and heaps of money like they say, they could certainly be going about it a bit differently.

I don’t know if the above ramblings made much sense, or if they came anywhere close to answering the question that I started with, but what’s better than answering a question with another series of questions?

1. How much political power do musicians and writers actually have?

2. How much influence does the business side of the cultural industry have over this political power?

3. Is it even possible to gauge the effect of the above two questions?

What we need is a fancy “effect-o-meter.” If anybody has one that works please let me know.


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