I don't know about you, but if I woke up tomorrow morning and discovered that Walter Becker from Steely Dan took the time out of his day to write a super mean-spirited op-ed about what a jerk I was, it would put me in a mood, for sure. Or, like, if Dean Ween went waaaaaay out of his way to explain that songs like "Touch My Tooter" or "Poop Ship Destoyer" were actually about how crappy would-be satirist who write for Viacom blogs and overuse the phrase "I mean" in a half-hearted attempt to sound conversational were ruining America, I think I might take that personally. Slightly, at any rate.
So, I can only imagine how Paul Ryan must be feeling after Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine — which is apparently one of Paul Ryan's favorite bands despite, well, everything — wrote this editorial/anti-Ryan screed for Rolling Stone…
Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades… Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. [Ed note: Burn!] He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.
I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.
Wow! That is very angry! Very anti-Ryan! Very righteous indignation-filled progressive! Though, it's not particularly surprising. There is a long and storied history of liberal musicians bashing into conservative politicians who attempt to align themselves with that hip cool sound that the kids dig so much. And there's just as long and not-quite-as-storied a tradition of conservative politicians yawning back in response.
To me, the most interesting thing about this was learning that Paul Ryan likes Rage Against the Machine. And even that shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. The guy is three years older than me. That's what we were all listening to back then. I was. And, to be honest, I wasn't really paying attention to the lyrics. What I mostly heard was LOUD NOISES!!!
But even if he did pay attention to the lyrics, so? This would hardly be the guy's biggest aesthetic or philosophical contradiction. This is a staunchly conservative Catholic who walks into a room faith-first and chose as his guiding ideological exemplar an anti-theist non-believer who preached the transcendent power of greed.
Paul Ryan, I think, is well-versed in navigating cognitive dissonance.
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Tags: Music, Paul Ryan