So you want to be in a rock band?: Artists as activists
The very first “rockstars” were truly the rhapsodes of the ancient times that traversed from polis-to-polis spouting tales of mythical heroes and their conquests set to the gentle tune of the plucking strings of their lutes. While this depiction is far from that of, say, Axel Rose, at its very root, there is a striking similarity.
Just as the rhapsodes were storytellers who were compelled to captivate audiences with their words in hopes of both inspiring them and providing for them a form of escapism, our modern day musician very much has the same power within his grasp. Unfortunately, to a greater extent within today's industry, the initial aim of the rhapsodes, that of, stimulating contemplation amongst their crowds, has been all too forgotten consequently leaving us subjected to music that rarely has meaning.
To return to my initial statement regarding my personal beliefs about existentialism: for those of you unfamiliar with this philosophy, please allow me to briefly summarize. An existentialist is one who believes in the acceptance of personal responsibility for all of his/her actions. He/she contests that one must be thoughtful in all of their choices and behaviours because of the inter-connectivity of all of human nature. The existentialist holds that if one is to partake in a particular action, just by simply committing the act themselves, they are in essence telling the rest of the world that it is okay for everyone else to act in the same manner. Therefore, if one allows themselves to behave towards others in a rude and obscene way, they should not be surprised if others act similarly towards them as their own behaviour has dictated to everyone else that acting in such a way is perfectly acceptable. So, I'm sure you're wondering now how this relates to music?
Well, it is of my humble opinion that, if one has been granted the amazing opportunity to live in the public limelight and obtain at their convenience all of the luxuries which such a lifestyle affords, then it is absolutely their responsibility to society to embrace this sort of existential perspective for a number of reasons.
For starters, our society is one that values wealth, fame and beauty, and as such, those who possess these qualities also possess a great deal of influence and therefore the power to make a difference. It is not only their direct participation that can contribute to change, but as well by participating in worthy causes or campaigns, they will influence others to do the same.
While I am the first to support any musician (and/or anyone else who is famous) for lending their celebrity towards some social cause, it seems rather contradictory to me if that very same celebrity doesn't take advantage of the difference they could make simply with their art in itself. When one both produces art that is degrading or promotes violence, and/or discrimination towards any other group, and then the next day donates a whole bunch of their cash to charity, to me, they are sending a very conflicted message. This brings me, of course, to my next point: why do people desire to be rockstars in the first place?
If you're in it for the sex, and drugs, please just stop - the world doesn't need any more Amy Winehouses. If, on the other hand, you are an artist such as myself, who believes in the healing power of music, and who in fact, has been healed by the impact of fellow artists yourself, then please, step forward, we need more of you in this world. Though I'm the first to acknowledge that celebrities, whether musicians, actors, or models, are real people just like you and me, and therefore, it's not surprising when their marriages fall apart, or they get into mischief, I do feel that if you've been lucky enough to reach an elevated place within society, then it is absolutely your duty to try and educate the public, and to use your reputation for some good.
So if you're not in it to make a difference, don't get into music at all - this world already has enough issues to contend with, we need some better rolemodels, and we need them now.