Rock Star and Politician

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Name: Chen Zhang
Class: UWS 22a
Date: 11/27/2012

Rock Star and Politician
Rock stars are well known for their exaggerated performances and appearances. According to Dick, glam rock’s entire aesthetic is “predicted upon a deliberate avoidance of the ‘real’ world” and creates a “reproduced” fantasy world (61). While glam gained popularity, punk also came into being. However, most people do not know that punk rock has “class and relevant” political issues (63). Iggy Pop, who frequently performs half-naked and whose performance is filled with rage and shouting, is known as the innovator of American punk rock. At first glance, Iggy Pop's performances appear erratic by his impulsive movements and gesture. However, upon further investigation of Iggy's performance there lies a much deeper meaning. In this paper, I will examine Iggy's “Search and Destroy” and “Greedy Awful People”, which can represent his early and later career, to demonstrate that his highly-energized performance and lyrics depict his political views from his personal experience, including his dissatisfaction with capitalism, and his feelings toward war. Thus, he was able to influence a generation of artists, such as Henry Rollins in Black Flag, to state their political views.

Iggy Pop’s anti-war view came from his personal experience with the Detroit Riot (1967). According to Pop’s biography on Oxford Music, he was born in west of Detroit to an English father (Walser). The stubborn old generation, who supported the “total separation” between the races, was the dominant group over the minority who supported the “integration” before 1967 in Detroit. The inequity between races created potential uneasy atmosphere in the city where both races were dissatisfied with each other. Benjamin D. Singer claims that “the origins of urban unrest in Detroit were rooted in a multitude of political, economic, and social unequal factors” between black and white people. The riot began on July 23, 1967 and in these 5 days of rioting, 43 people died, 1189 people were injured and over 7000 people had been arrested (Singers). People poured into any business section, looted the stores and burned them. While on Henry Rollins show in 2007, Pop recalled that in 1967 he formed the Stooges with other band members and held successful concerts with other bands, such as the MC5. However, while holding these concerts there was always a chance of getting shot at any second during the performance. The rioters in the city put every citizen into potential danger. Pop recalled that he could still remember the scenes vividly that many of the buildings were on fire when he walked on the street, the sky were illuminated by the fire, rioters ran on streets and rolled cars and buildings were ruthlessly destroyed. He even joked on the show that the hole created by shell on the ground was so big that he tried to dig out the dust and build a studio for free. Iggy Pop and the Stooges were in Detroit in that heavy time and the riot inspired Pop deeply that he even wrote the song “Panic in Detroit” in memory of this tragedy.

“Panic in Detroit” attests that the Detroit Riot is where Iggy Pop’s anti-war view comes from. Pop was born in the new generation, which were open to make some changes about the racial issues and wars, and that was why he formed the Stooges to convey their political views. After the World War II, the government strengthened the education about anti-war and war’s catastrophic consequences, but nothing would had been a better lesson than the Detroit Riot to teach Iggy Pop the pain of riot and war because he witnessed the city burning down. David Bowie wrote the song “Panic in Detroit”, released in 1973, and it was “based on friend Iggy Pop’s description of the revolutionaries he had known as a youth” (Walser). The lyrics of the song were written in a third person’s view, who went crazy during the riot and created chaos in...
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