Keep Your Politics Out of My Prog

[This post is not an official Progarchy position on this topic. I speak only for myself, not for the writers of this great website – Bryan]

Musicians being vocal about their political leanings is nothing new, but it is still obnoxious. Rarely does much good come from a famous musician sharing their opinion about some political person, government, or law. Instead, it pisses people off. I don’t know why many continue to do it, because you are bound to anger or alienate somebody, especially when you have a lot of fans.

I’ve noticed that some of the worst in the prog world are British artists responding to American politics. The British people are great. I loved my time in England, and, honestly, if it weren’t for their politics, I would consider moving there permanently. However, as an American, I can truthfully say that I don’t want the musicians I listen to from other countries commenting on my country’s government, political system, elections, or traditions. We have guns here. Get over it. We aren’t socialist. Get over it. We might elect Donald Trump. GET OVER IT. And certainly don’t share on your social media about how stupid you think Americans are because of the way we do things. If you aren’t an American, then you likely have not made any effort to truly understand the reasoning behind our laws. All you’re doing by sharing your anti-American opinion is alienating some of your US fans. Maybe we will think twice before paying for your albums or buying a ticket to one of your shows.

Mike Portnoy understands the idea of keeping politics to yourself very well. I follow his social media fairly closely, and not once have I seen him moan about some political issue. He is a musician and an artist with a lot of fans, and he knows that whatever he says will likely upset some of them. By keeping his mouth shut altogether on those issues, everybody stays happy. Look at the flack Neil Peart got after that awful Rolling Stone interview. I know my opinion of the great drummer certainly went down (temporarily) after hearing him bash an ideology that I am favorable to. I’ve never had that happen with Mike Portnoy, because he keeps his political opinions private.

In summation, a word of advice to non-American prog musicians: many of your American fans are actually quite conservative and do not appreciate you bashing their beliefs or insulting them because they believe it. It is better to keep your mouth shut then it is to open it and tick people off. Prog already has a hard enough time gaining traction – please don’t make it worse. Thank you to all of the artists (a majority, likely) that follow this general rule. We love your music and your art. Thank you for not confusing it with divisive political garbage.

 

24 thoughts on “Keep Your Politics Out of My Prog

    1. Bryan Morey

      Exactly. The proliferation of things like Twitter has only made it worse. You can spread your unsolicited political opinion to the entire world in seconds.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. FIRST………………….My Sincere hat OFF to You Bryan!!! For expressing your PERSONAL-OPINION (AND,your right to DO SO Freely) here,despite,what OTHERS may think about it!!!

    Personally speaking?…………..”Politics” and “Religion”,are BOTH “Hot” buttons for me,and therefore,I try to stay as FAR AWAY from them,as POSSIBLE!!! Being a Native-Indian (Sure,You can call me a “Politically-Correct” Native-American,but I’ve never been in favor of that title for our people!!!),I STAND-STRONG with How I feel,regarding “American-Politics” and how Ridiculous it IS,to bash someone for NOT believing in the same things YOU do!!!

    My Point BEING………….is that I’m probably one of THE GREATEST RUSH FANS who’s ever lived!!! But once I got wind of Neil’s feelings regarding “politics”……….did I think LESS of him,for Expressing his feelings in an open-forum? NOT AT ALL,and WHY??? BECAUSE…………..the last time I checked,America was a place where You can FEEL a certain way,and feel PROUD about it,without worry of being gunned-down due to everyone else NOT liking how YOU ALONE,feel about it!!! So,despite me NOT feeling the same way that Sir-Neil does,is that going to make me think LESS of him? Sorry……….but NOPE!!! Lol. For I’ll keep on believing that HE is one of the ALL-TIME GREATEST Drummers who’s ever sat behind the skins,REGARDLESS of how he feels about anything ELSE in life!!!

    That’s just MY two-cents worth here Bryan!!! But……….all in all……………Should Musicians focus on their music instead of raising a ruckus regarding other things? Yes,I agree with ya on that one!!! 🙂

    ~Peace~

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bryan Morey

    Thanks, Indieun7. I guess I should clarify with regards to Peart. My opinion of him as a musician and artist did not diminish at all. I was more annoyed at the fact that he was publicly bashing Rand Paul instead of talking about music. I don’t care what he believes politically, but I do care when he (or anyone for that matter) bashes other people for what they believe. I blame Rolling Stone more than him, because they put their political spin on absolutely EVERYTHING. I didn’t notice any politics popping up in the recent Rush interviews in Prog magazine 🙂 I guess I should also say that my opinion of Peart only went down temporarily. I huffed and puffed and got over it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. Thank-You oh so much Bryan,for stating your comment because I can easily SEE what You mean behind your post here now!!! And I appreciate You taking the time to clarify your point,all the more so!!! 🙂 Haha,it seems our opinions become more and MORE alike,the more I read your posts about things in here!!! Lol. So I just wanted to say Bryan,that since I’ve read the first post from You on here,I’ve always ENJOYED what You’ve had to say on here,when it comes to………….well…………….EVERYTHING!!! Lol. So I look forward to all your future posts as well!!! 🙂

      ~Peace~

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Erik Heter

      I actually had more of a problem with the *way* Peart expressed his opinion, rather than the fact that he did. He could have laid out is opposition to Paul’s positions with well thought out arguments, but instead he went straight for the stupid, sophmoric “he hates women and brown people” crap that’s not worthy of the intellectual power of a first grader. And that should have been way, way beneath the ideals of integrity and understanding espoused in his lyrics for decades. At least at that moment, he failed – and woefully – to live up to his ideals. My opinion of him as a drummer was not damaged in the least, but my opinion of him as an observer, a thinker, and someone who is able to articulate things definitely took a hit. In the absence of him walking back those comments and restating his opinion more thoughtfully, that part of my opinion of him has not recovered.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Bryan, I must gently disagree. Asking musicians or artists to contain certain types of opinions — whether or not you perceive them to be on what you consider strong moral or political ground — is I believe a slippery slope. You can choose to continue to enjoy their art, or not, in spite of or because of their opinions. It’s also worth remembering that some of the greatest music made was created as a political act. Art and politics will always be deeply intertwined, and while we may disagree with our musical heroes, while they might disappoint us, we shouldn’t deprive them of their right to speak passionately on what they believe. They are as flawed and imperfect as the rest of us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Bryan Morey

      Thanks, Craig. I just think for their own good, musicians should voluntarily keep out of politics. Portnoy and Tillison are prime examples of this – excellent art and cultural critique without being political. I think that true art is above politics, which is merely focused on the here and now. They can believe whatever they want, but, for their own good as musicians trying to make a living, it is foolhardy to publicly express political opinions when you know that someone somewhere in the world will disagree and likely stop supporting you.

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    2. Erik Heter

      Craig – I’ll try to split the difference between you and Bryan, in the spirit of the comments I put forth regarding Peart, both here and in the post I wrote last year. It’s not the fact that they express an opinion, it’s *how* they do it. I’m fine with thoughtful arguments in favor of a viewpoint with which I disagree. On the other hand, I’m not at all fine with lousy arguments, sophmoric rants, or ad homenim attacks on any viewpoint, irrespective of whether I agree. That’s what really stuck in my craw about Peart’s comments, and I will be even harder on him because of the ideals he expresses in his lyrics. If he going to write about integrity, understanding, and the like as he has, then I expect him to at least live up to that. And he failed miserably in that one moment and doesn’t show much sign of having second thoughts about it.

      In general, that leads to my problem with most of these artists expressing their opinion – for as good as many of them are at their art, they demonstrate little if any ability to put forth a coherent, constructive, well thought out argument for their own positions or against those with which they disagree. And if they can’t do that, if all they can do is childish name calling as Peart did with Paul, then indeed they are better off keeping their mouths shut.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Andrew Craske

    Whilst I have some sympathy with the views expressed above, I am an English person who studied the US political system, spent time in the Mid West etc. So I have more sympathy with the freedom of speech which is enshrined in the US Constitution. If a musician, or writer or other artist expresses a view I will take note, and then move on if it is not a view I agree with. To be honest it’s not something I have seen spiralling out of control. Music and politics are always going to be intertwined and have given birth to some great works – Floyds’ The Wall?? Ironically written by a millionaire socialist-ah well time to go to work in the great machine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Morey

      Thanks, Andrew. I fully believe in freedom of speech (although, legally under US law, that right only applies to US citizens), but just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should.

      With regard to The Wall, Roger Waters has been very clear in pointing out that it is based upon his experiences growing up without his father and grandfather, who died in the first two world wars. His comments in that album were ideological, not political. The album gets at bigger questions, not specific politicians or policies. I certainly disagree with some of Waters’ political statements, and I often avoid watching interviews with him because I know he will say something that will upset me.

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  5. Mr Morey, With regard to non-American musicians or non-Americans voicing opinions on American politics, your view is wrong, very wrong. You seem to forget that America has the largest influence on the politics and way of life in the free world. When America coughs the rest of us get influenza.

    Non-Americans regardless of their occupation have every right to voice an opinion on your politics. I remember the Reagan (Raygun?) years and the witch we had in power in the UK, the politics of both led to a fear in everyone of will we be here in 6 months. It took a Russian (good old Gorby!) to relieve those fears for a while.

    If the best America can come up with is either Trump or Mrs. Clinton, one a complete joke and the other a liar (apply to which one you wish) then I truly fear for the future of mankind and I was a 12 year old when the Cuban Missile Crisis took place. To be among my peers at that time fearing that as the crisis came to a head, that day may me the last days of our lives. The majority of the population of Europe can hardly believe that that imbecile Trump has a remote chance of being leader of The Free World, yes Mrs. Clinton is our hope, a poor substitute indeed.

    Never forget Mr. Morey how much most of the Free World still look to America for inspiration but if Trump is elected that respect and hope will evaporate.

    I see from your comments “we have guns here get over it” that it seems you are pro-gun. I suggest you make your comment to the parents of schoolchildren shot while at school.

    Please do not think I am anti-America, I love your music, movies, TV drama and authors. Next week I hope to enjoy your hospitality at SXSW, my first visit to your country. Whilst there I will respect your views and laws, your politcs? I“ll give those a pass.

    I love this site, not the religious views but we will not go there, but because of the music. I love Prog and Americana and the healing power music gives to us all.

    We are all entitled to an opinion, never underestimate the power and influence wielded by America, therefore our opinions on your politics count more than you can imagine.

    Live long and prosper, Richie.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Bryan Morey

      Richie, thanks for the comment. I think you are misinterpreting my main point. I do not care what anyone else thinks of America. I’m simply saying that, for their own sake, musicians should keep their political opinions private so that they do not alienate fans. My Dad was a big Bruce Springsteen in the 80s, but then Springsteen got all political, which pissed off a large number of his fans, who tended to be hard working, middle class Americans, not far left socialists. If Springsteen had kept his mouth shut, there wouldn’t have been an issue. Honestly, most of us don’t care to hear our favorite musicians’ opinions on politics. Just like most people did not want to hear Leonardo DiCaprio whine about global warming when accepting an Oscar. He’s an actor. We don’t care about his opinion on this matter.

      Now, I didn’t want to get specifically political, but I feel I must respond. Your opinion on American foreign policy in the 80s is identical to that of people I spoke with on this issue in England over the summer. From an American perspective, Reagan strengthened America, which brought the Soviets to their knees. Communism and socialism aren’t sustainable, since there is 0 incentive to work hard if your money is going to somebody else. Thus, the USSR couldn’t afford to keep up with American military spending and technology. That is an historical opinion, not political.

      Yes, I am pro-gun, because our Constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms, just as it gives us the right to free speech. I am a Constitutionalist. Notice, the only places that experience mass shootings are supposed “gun free” zones. Law abiding citizens aren’t taking their guns into a school – criminals are. Solution: have armed security guards or allow teachers to carry weapons. I understand the rest of the world doesn’t have a legal provision guaranteeing their right to carry weapons. In America, we do have that right. That is what the rest of the world doesn’t understand.

      Again, I reiterate that my main point is artists should not seek to anger their fans (or potential fans) by getting political. Andy Tillison does this well. He is opposite from me in politics, yet I love his social critique. He is very conscious about keeping his political opinions private, because he knows his fans are so diverse politically. It is simply good sense to keep these issues separate.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Springsteen spoke up for those whose voices were ignored in the `80`s, yes he infuriated those fans who political views were to the right so what?

        If those so-called fans `cut their nose off to spite their face` it`s their loss, I doubt if Springsteen lost any sleep over it.

        Me? Bruce went up in my estimation for voicing his views, he had a lot to lose and did lose a lot of fans, he also gained new fans. Why should musicians keep their views private? That`s the biggest load of elephant droppings I`ve ever heard, what next electrical engineers being gagged, that kid in McDonald’s, doctors?

        Everyone has the right to voice their opinions, you quote the Constitution Bryan, if my memory serves me well dosen`t the Constitution give individuals the right to free speech?

        Musicians who I own music by are have right wing views but does not stop me enjoying their music. Those fans who take umbrage to the political opinions of musicians they previously admired should grow up. I reiterate all human beings have the right to voice their opinions period.

        May your diety go with you, Richie.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. [This post is not an official Progarchy position on this topic. I speak only for myself, not for the writers of this great website – Bryan]

    Then why bother posting it on this website? If you want to vent, don’t post it on a website where other people are contributing on as well. I keep my political opinions on my private Facebook account, and so should you. You’re clearly a Trump voter who gets cranky when people do not agree with you (including your ‘favourite’ artists).

    I follow Progarchy for the latest prog related news. If you don’t like it that artists give their opinion on their pages, be the good example: don’t post your political views on on this page.

    Keep your politics out of my blog!

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    1. Bryan Morey

      Iris, thanks for reading and following Progarchy. We really appreciate it, and I hope this article hasn’t turned you off from our site.

      However, If you think I am making political statements in my article, then you are completely misreading what I am saying. This isn’t a political rant. It is a public request to prog rock artists to please not spew political diatribe in either their music or in what they say publicly. It lessens their credibility, and if included in music, it greatly lessens the quality of their art. Art should reach beyond the mundane and political to greater truths or issues.

      I take slight offense with your assumption that I am “clearly a Trump voter who gets cranky when people do not agree with you.” I repeat again that I DO NOT CARE what people believe politically, as long as it doesn’t affect me. This has nothing to do with Donald Trump (other than the specific artist I have in mind who thinks it is appropriate to insult Americans who may agree with Trump – not a good way to win fans).

      The smart musician chooses to keep his or her political opinions private in order to avoid creating a stumbling block for fans or potential fans. It is as simple as that. It has nothing to do with whether or not I agree with them. I would say the same if they posted something I do agree with politically – I understand that not everyone will agree, and it may cause dissension. Better to avoid that and simply focus on the music.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Morten K. Venstõp

    Hello, Norway calling!

    Stumbled over ‘progarchy.com’ a few weeks back and thought, WOW, what a great place for progheads with thorough, professional, in-depth reviews & articles. Ehhhh….., well at least until I read this. The writer is clearly against freedom of speech, especially for musicians that have the courage to give their social and political views to the public.
    Yes, they risk losing fans but speak out anyway. Here in Norway we call this; “to have balls”!

    All professional artists are fully aware of the danger of openly criticize other social and political views, still some do and thank god for that. We should encourage them instead of trying to silence them, even if we disagree.

    Seems to me that you dream of a future of rock and especially your beloved progrock, only can be served by artists that keep their mouth shut.
    So to the question, will I trust your reviews in the future, well I am sorry to say no, I will not?!

    “progarchy.com” has lost a future reader so there is no need to reply, I will never return.

    Like

    1. Bryan Morey

      So everyone else is allowed to have freedom of speech but me? I believe in freedom of speech, and I’m not sure where you get the idea that I’m don’t. Maybe you should reread my article.

      Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should. Artists need to remember that fans are also customers, and I don’t appreciate it when artists refer to me as stupid because of what I believe. That’s not “having balls,” it is being a dumb ass. I’ve worked in retail, and I know that you never insult your customers. These idiot artists that keep insulting American conservatives, when they themselves know nothing about America, are just shooting themselves in the foot.

      It is about prudence, not freedom of speech.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jt

    You don’t plow your own roads or fund your own wars. Get over it. It’s called socialism. You don’t get to pick and choose the parts you like so you can re-label how my country works. This isn’t the bible…

    If you are going to bitch and moan about political opinion try not to spread it with far right viewpoints.

    Always the whiners who are right wing complaint about the whiners. Vicious circle.

    Musicians pay taxes. They can say and push what they want. Your precious capitalism and free markets will dictate if you purchase it.

    Learn how my country works please.

    Like

    1. Bryan Morey

      I’m not bitching about the political opinion – anybody can have whatever damn opinion they want as long as their opinion doesn’t affect me. Unfortunately, socialism destroys freedom, so holding that political opinion does affect me.

      However, I wasn’t bitching about anyone’s specific opinion – just the way in which they were sharing it. Insulting people of another country (to which they don’t even pay taxes!) on Twitter isn’t really a good way of sharing an opinion. If the person I had in mind when I wrote this article had addressed the issue in his music rather than on Twitter, I probably wouldn’t have made such a big deal about it. Instead, he chose to be an ass and insult a lot of people who otherwise may have purchased his music.

      Who the hell do you think pays for those roads to get plowed and those wars to get fought? Socialist countries can’t just pull money out of their butts. They tax people, and steal their money, or they borrow from the future by going into debt (which is what America has been doing for a long time). Maybe if the rest of the world would chip in for their own security instead of the US having to do it for them, we wouldn’t have to pay for these wars. Our capitalism makes your socialism possible.

      Liked by 1 person

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