- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Pop commercials

"Fourteen years after Nike outraged Beatles fans, and the surviving Beatles, by using 'Revolution' in a sneaker ad Michael Jackson controlled the publishing rights to the song the revolution is over, and the advertisers have largely won.

"Bruce Springsteen famously refused a reported $12 million to license his song 'Born in the U.S.A.' to Chrysler in 1986 and remains one of the handful of high-profile holdouts. (Others include Neil Young and Tom Petty.) But such opposition appears to be in retreat. 'Artists no longer feel stigmatized about being used by corporations,' says Cyndi Goretski, artists-and-repertoire manager in the licensing division of Warner Music. Counterculture anthems by the Who or Jimi Hendrix now sell cars… .

"If you want to hear interesting, ambitious, challenging pop music these days, the place to turn is not mainstream radio but television and not MTV but commercials for establishment products like banks, phone companies and painkillers. As pop radio has constricted around a handful of slick teen acts, commercials screech and thump with underground dance music and alternative rock, selling products whose reach extends way beyond that of the musicians."

John Leland, writing on "Advertisements for Themselves," in Sunday's New York Times Magazine

'Herd mentality'

"The United States, long envied for its pioneer spirit, can-do attitude and boundless freethinking, is swiftly being transformed into a 'me-too' nation, bound by convention and hobbled by herd mentality… .

"In the climate of conformity, it is safer and easier to parrot prevailing wisdom than question political agendas, economic practices and societal perspectives.

"For example, prevailing wisdom held [that] it's a two-party political system, and anyone attempting to crash the party was castigated as a spoiler. [And] protesters are a threat to public order and citizens who take to the street to air their cause were demonized for their beliefs, muzzled by premature police actions, restricted by regulations and marginalized by the media… .

"From the heads of government, from the editorial pages of the major newspapers, from the corporate boardroom comes the message that the system is working fine, and since 'It ain't broke, don't fix it.' …

"A growing distaste for democracy is revealed in the unspoken message that if you're dissatisfied with the way things are, or believe that the system isn't working, then you are the problem."

from "U.S. To Suffer From Its Climate of Conformity," an editorial in the spring issue of The Trends Journal

Acceptable beliefs

"In the United States at the end of the 20th century, Christianity has taken on the characteristics of an illicit religion. Every other religion is not merely tolerated, but often flattered and encouraged; however, expressions of Christian faith are constantly being suppressed.

"Witchcraft and perhaps even Satanism can be 'studied' in public schools, but Christianity and the Bible usually cannot… .

"Sen. [Joseph I.] Lieberman is Jewish, professes Orthodoxy, keeps the Jewish sabbath and a kosher kitchen. He was so consistently praised for this that some of his more liberal Jewish brethren took him to task for making too much of his religion.

By contrast, Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor in the Lewinsky fiasco, is an evangelical Christian who takes his faith seriously, and he was frequently derided for attending prayer meetings and singing hymns.

"John Ashcroft, also an evangelical Christian, happens to be opposed to abortion, or, as we might call it if we wish to tell the truth, prenatal homicide. Can such a person be attorney general? … Belief in God is acceptable only as long as one does not take it seriously and let it spill over into questions of conduct and public policy."

from "Religio Illicita," an editorial in the February issue of the Religion & Society Report

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