Rock is about freedom, not shock

EVERYONE knows rock 'n' roll means so much more than just loud music, tight pants and loose women.

It's also about copious amounts of drugs.

But much more than that, rock 'n' roll is about freedom.

Sure, that freedom may limited to distorted guitars, 4/4 drum beats, riffs stolen from blues songs, overused chord progressions and songs about girls, rocking or rocking girls, but it's still freedom.

The same goes for rap music, which started out as a freedom of expression among poorer black youth in America and ended up as a freedom of expression among poorer black youth in America who now wear necklaces worth more than your entire house.

So it's only natural that not everyone will appreciate that freedom.

And no, I'm not talking about your parents who consider Glenn Miller's music to be a bit too “in-your-face”.

I'm talking about Uzbekistan's airing of a documentary denouncing rock and rap music as a “dark cloud over the heads of Uzbek youth” and a “Western liberal excess”.

The documentary was called Melody and Calamity and claims “rock music originated from African hunting rituals” before saying, “this satanic music was created by evil forces to bring youth in Western countries to total moral degradation”.

I'm not sure which ancient African hunting rituals involved spinning a few AC/DC records, but surely they wouldn't be making this up.

The documentary said even Uzbek music wasn't safe from rock 'n' roll's curse.

“If you check disks or flashcards in your home, you may find some of the rock or rap songs performed by Uzbek singers as well ... and be aware of the satanic effects of this evil music,” the documentary claimed.

Claiming rock and rap music is in league with Satan certainly isn't new, but using the term “discs and flashcards” certainly is.

I really can't remember the last time I overheard, “Did you check out that new Jay-Z flashcard? That disc is straight dope!”

The documentary went on to mention scientific research studying the effects of the music on human health, saying if classical music was a cure from illness, rock and rap were the tickets to death.

If that's true, then where does the remix of Kanye West's Gold Digger set to Beethoven's Fifth come in?

At least it's gotten to the point where music doesn't shock Western society anymore.

Bill Hayley's Rock Around the Clock used to make parents faint with shock but now it's impossible to get a number-one song without explicit references to sex, drinking or both and a synth line straight out of a 1970s Europop song.

Alice Cooper used to be the most shocking artist around. Now he's a committed Christian with a golf addiction.

Marilyn Manson caused parents to wet themselves when he came out, and now the only thing offensive about him is that he's still making music (and dates really hot girls half his age).

Eminem went from making songs about murdering his wife, having sex with his teacher and bashing up homosexuals to doing a duet with Elton John and writing songs about “the importance of not giving up” and “trying your hardest”. The dude is practically a motivational speaker in rap form nowadays.

So, there you have it shock rockers, just do a tour of Uzbekistan and you're bound to offend thousands.

Culture Sparrow is a weekly humour column written by Callum Johnson.

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