by Jennifer and Harriet Doveton of Colour Me Wednesday
People often ask us, in broad terms, what it’s like being a ‘political’ band. ‘Music’ and ‘Politics’ are treated as a volatile and unusual combination but to us it always seemed odd to try to talk about ‘political music’ as separate from ‘music’ and ‘politics’. Politics affects every part of our lives, to us, everything is political.
It seems most people don’t feel that way, there’s an effort to keep politics away from the arts, from popular culture and leisure – and from state education. There was no effort made in our high school to provide any kind of objective political education so no one talked Politics — no one felt they had any right to form an uneducated opinion on the matter.
But then you turn 18 and suddenly everyone starts going on about how important voting is. How valuable and precious the ability to participate in democracy is. Everyone apparently wants young people to vote but no one wants to take responsibility for educating them.
Last year, Russell Brand became an acceptable hate figure for bursting the democracy bubble for young people. But if he is as influential on the youth as all those finger wagging articles claim, he’s done more to educate them on current affairs through his quick, witty video diatribes than any other pop cultural icon, politician or journalist is currently doing.
we are frequently told, in infantilising terms,
that we should ‘stick to the music’ and
‘keep out of politics’.
People are very quick to police who should and shouldn’t get involved in political debate. Sometimes it seems like you have to be middle-class, middle-aged, male and white to be able to express a political opinion. Even as part of an openly political punk band we are frequently told, in infantilising terms, that we should ‘stick to the music’ and ‘keep out of politics’.
One middle aged man wrote on Colour Me Wednesday’s Facebook wall: “Ah what it is to be young and clueless” after we implored our followers to not vote Tory or UKIP in the upcoming election. When Harriet’s girl band The Tuts were invited onto BBC News to talk about Taylor Swift and Apple music they were criticised by various men on twitter for “turning it into a political issue”, and for their “silly” (i.e. working class) accents. All girl rock band Hearts Under Fire expressed disappointment at another 4 years of the Tories on their Facebook wall and a middle aged man commented: “Don’t get political girls, just play music.”
We’re all well into our twenties and apparently we’re still too young to form an opinion on the matter. But even if we were middle aged, we’d be too working class. Really, ‘girls’ like us should probably just stick to the music and stay out of politics.
Think about women just turning 18, surrounded, as we all are, by middle aged men trying to shoot them down every time they speak up. Too young, too working class, too naive, too uneducated. It’s lucky we’re allowed to vote at all, but it seems that’s all we’re allowed to do, put an X in a box and shut up about it.
Here in Uxbridge, we’ve always had a Tory MP and a Tory council – a safe Tory seat, which is why Boris picked it as his new home. The arts are non-existent, of course, and all there is for young people to do – for anyone to do in the local community – is shop in the Intu centre. Seeing the arts and politics as separate stops people from seeing the correlation between the political landscape and the lack of funding for the arts. The lack of venues for musicians like us – the lack of live music unless it’s being used to push alcoholic beverages – this is all politics. The men who troll our Facebook pages or our twitters, they don’t want change. Maybe they did once, but now they’re afraid of criticisms of a society they’ve grown accustomed and apathetic to and they want to be able to call us apathetic too. But how can we be once we’ve drawn the connection between the decisions middle aged white men in power make and everything that is important to us?
This article is part of our Music That Matters series. You can read the rest of the series here.