Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We did it all for the glory of bad taste

I come here for a time of confession. This is not easy, and I am not really proud of it so I will just say it. A Tears for Fears song is currently sitting in my top 10 most played songs on my ipod.

Now this is a hard thing to own up to. If you had a look at the other songs contained in the top ten you would see The Who, Blur, The Clash, The Stone Roses and Sonic Youth. But rounding out my top ten is Tears for bloody Fears.

How can I listen to Everybody wants to rule the world and at the same time moan about cheesy pop music without getting ritualistically murdered by Joe Strummer (if he was still alive)? After many sleepless nights and much thought I have stumbled upon how this might be possible. Some songs that I would otherwise hate, I do like because of the time it came out or what it reminds me of. For me many moments of life can be soundtracked, and it doesn't always have to contain good music.

Case in point: The Feelers. I absolutely despise The Feelers. They put out some absolute excrement, disguised as music. However, I do still own their first album Supersystem. While some of the songs, on paper are crap, it does remind me of my last year of high school and the people I was friends with then. Maybe I was slightly too young to experience better music, I was in Napier and there was no Youtube, but every now and then when I hear some of their songs from that album I can't help but nod the head.

Likewise, when I was about 5 or 6 a cousin made me a tape which contained such gems as the afformentioned Tears for Fears and such other classics as You're the Voice and Electric Blues. Those songs, while undeniably cringeworthy, remind me of what the 80's was for me, namely childhood; Richard Hadlee, the All Blacks last winning the world cup and the first wave of fluro. Thankfully I wasn't older and I didn't have to worry about mass unemployment, Rogernomics, hair metal or commies under the bed.

I suppose what I am trying to say is sometimes, just sometimes, it is ok to like a few songs which you might like to hide. We can all have a few songs that we might only like to listen to on headphones, but which we secretly enjoy. Everyone has their own favorite guilty pleasures.

This song is not one of mine, it has no sentimental value, only laugh out loud value.

(BTW: Peter Cetera is coming to New Zealand tickets are available here. For each ticket purchased $10 will go to Al Qeada, they have both terrorised the world in their own way)

Just to balance the ledger

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fight the power?

There is a new archival website which came along a couple of weeks ago from NZ on Air: NZ On Screen and it is an amazing website. NZ On Screen is a free archive that has been established with everything from the first episode of Gloss (truly cringeworthy) to some good quality documentaries. One that I took in over Labour weekend was Patu!, a documentary taken from the protesters point of view in the 1981 Springbok tour.

Having been born in 1982, obviously I knew how much of a schism the tour struck through New Zealand. I had seen the stock footage of protesters and of Alan Hewson, with his 1980's slug of a mustache slotting the penalty to give the All Blacks victory. But Patu! gave me quite an insight into the groundswell that was actually against the tour.

Seeing McAllister park, literally just around the corner from my house, covered in barbed wire was a wake up call. Indeed, the most disturbing aspect was the anger that was projected towards the protesters. New Zealanders literally setting upon other New Zealanders over a canceled game of rugby seems to frightening to be true.

In fact in one part a member of the public asks one of the protesters "How would you feel if your daughter brought one (an African) home?" For such a level of racism to be shouted in public today just seems downright foreign, however, this was only 27 years ago. It does reassure me that we have, thankfully, moved a long way since then.

Watching Patu! I was almost struck with a sense that we really do not have a defining political or social movement to stand behind. We had the Iraq war, but there seemed a complete sense of futility surrounding it. I remember going down to parliament and watching the protest just before the invasion. All it involved was some anarchists getting arrested, nothing that stirred my emotions. And yet in Patu! you see people literally risking their lives to stand up against what was a condoning of a racist institution (the South African government), and I could imagine myself getting in there and doing it (despite and maybe because I am a massive fan of rugby).

Talking to people who were around during the Springbok tour, however, it seems as though it was a watershed moment, the only other event which came close was the 1951 Waterfront Strike when New Zealand came the closest it has ever come to a dictatorship. Through other times we have been lucky enough to live in a relatively peaceful and democratically free country.

While I believe that a good amount of people now are either extremely apathetic, or very cynical to stand up for a cause, perhaps since we enjoy a peaceful and democratic existance, we are not forced to take to the streets to stand up for such things. Perhaps we should be greatful for that.

But ultimately it doesn't mean we should forget our history. So I'm off to watch the film 1951 on the 1951 Waterfront strike, when New Zealand supposedly came the closest it has ever come to a dictatorship. Time to find out more.....