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Re: Did new wave make you a better person?

Did new wave make you a better person?
September 23, 2018 01:28AM
I'm going to botch my wording on this, I know it, but stick with me...

The early 2-tone groups like the beat and specials were blacks and whites together in the group. I liked these bands, and I liked their look. To this day I'd like to see us all co-exist like those bands did.

When I read Howard Jones say in smash hits magazine that being gay was like being left-handed, it stayed with me. Since, I've never been 'afraid' of any sexual identity. Who would I be to judge anyone?

The women in new wave were never seen as '2nd tier' or lesser. Siouxie? That pretenders debut? The slits? I wouldn't have ever viewed them as merely 'sex objects', not on your life!

I'm a boring Hetero white male, but somehow I think my love of our music ('we' and 'our' refers to those of us who'd end up on a trouser press website) helped open my eyes a little. Certainly more than my more mainstream-leaning friends.

Sorry for the over-simplifying, idealizing, romanticizing, etc I've done here. But I'd like to know if others here feel the same. I'm not 'better' than my non-new wave friends.... but I'm a better ME than I might've been if I hadn't had this music in my formative early teens.

Same for you?
Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
September 23, 2018 04:06PM
Well, that's an interesting take on it. I have said that, through the DIY philosophy, we wrested the culture away from the giant corporations that were spoon-feeding us the Starland Vocal Band and "The Love Boat", creating an ultimately viable alternative that eventually (more or less, for better or worse) took over. So New Wave made the WORLD a better place. But me as an individual? I think that the scene's artistic and social open-mindedness was more of a reflection on me, like: hey, these are my people! Tho of course, I'm sure it didn't hurt, it reinforced the right attitudes.

Looking back on it, I like how it wasn't a big deal if a musician was female or a minority. Just seemed natural. No one seemed to care. Songs with gay themes ("Jet Boy Jet Girl," "Johnny Are You Queer", Rocky Horror's "Sweet Transvestite") were seen as taboo-bustingly humorous. (And I'm pretty sure that, in the entire history of the English language, that is the first time anyone as ever written the phrase "taboo-bustingly humorous.") It never occurred to us to pat ourselves on the back. That's what hippies would do! "We're all brothers and sisters, living as one, maaaan..."
Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
September 23, 2018 06:16PM

Maybe - I can certainly recall a great deal of thought going into what songs meant - which now you lose entirely since everybody is so anxious to tell you what a song means in bold detail and take all the mystery/fun out of music entirely.

"This Charming Man" and stuff like that, by the mere act of investigating it or pouring through lyrics or what you thought the lyrics were anyway made you disposed to be empathetic/open minded too I think.

Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
September 24, 2018 08:30PM
This is an excellent question, Bip. It had me thinking a lot this past weekend.

As I've said before here, one big factor that drove me to embrace New Wave was the way my classmates dismissed & ridiculed it. As much as I genuinely fell in love with Talking Heads, Devo, the B-52's and Elvis Costello, and for all the freshness & greatness of their music, I wasn't driven to be "better" than my classmates -- i.e., more enlightened, more noble or righteous -- so much as I had a smug desire just to be different from them. I certainly wasn't finding a new "tribe" to fit in with; as far as I could tell, nobody else at my high school liked that music at all. (Blondie was popular, but mostly with the kids who liked disco.)

Since then, well, I can say I like the person I became a lot more than I probably would like the person I would've become without this music -- the "parallel" version of me, if you will. What do I base this on? Well, as MTV became popular, and some of my favorite bands started to find a wider audience, it became easier to see the attitudes of people who continued to scoff at those bands ... and it gradually became more clear that those negative attitudes carried over into other areas of their lives, in ways that I just couldn't get behind.

Culture Club isn't the hippest example to cite, but it is one that's easy to articulate. When Boy George and his cohorts started to gain an audience on MTV, I remember how certain guys in the crowd (and a few girls) bristled with indignation ... and sometimes, with outright hostility and even hatred. Taken solely on their music, Culture Club simply was an update of soul/Motown sounds. I liked the singles on their first album just fine, and liked their second album enough to buy it. Boy George's look wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I certainly didn't hate him for it. And as for his sexuality, well, as a long-time fan of Elton John, David Bowie and Queen, I knew enough not to let that factor into the way I felt about the music.

Thinking about some of the people I knew back then who hated or dismissed New Wave, I think about the music they did like (metal, classic rock, and a lot of fake-rock), and I also think about some of the other attitudes I witnessed from them -- about gay people (whether they were on MTV or not), about women and sex, about vocations and money, about life and society in general, and in a few cases, about politics. Did those people broaden their outlooks over time? I sure hope so, but in a lot of cases, I have no idea. All I know is, when I think back on the way those people thought/behaved back then, and consider whether I could've become like one of them ... well, let's just say it doesn't make me happy to contemplate it.

So, apologizing for being so long-winded about it ... yeah, I'll give the music credit for making me a better person.

Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
September 27, 2018 12:37AM
Mr Fab asked a similar question a ways back:
Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
June 02, 2020 07:46PM
If the police officer who pressed his knee into that poor man’s neck had grown up a Specials or English Beat fan, do you think he could’ve ever imagined doing such a thing?
Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
June 03, 2020 07:32PM
I don't know. He might like Hendrix, Motown and soul, hip-hop. I bet he likes sports and, unless he's just an ice hockey fan, every sport in America is filled with African-Americans. Some people's brains have the ability to departmentalize...
Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
June 04, 2020 11:34AM
OTOH, a lot of British Nazi skinheads listened to ska and northern soul. Didn't stop them from being racists.
Re: Did new wave make you a better person?
June 04, 2020 07:39PM
Ah, good points and I’ve been reconsidering my position. To suggest that music can make you a good person is akin to saying it can also make you a bad person...which smacks of PMRC rhetoric.

Skinheads have always been an enigma to me. The ‘look’ itself is actually kind of cool and was adopted by unexpected artists like Bronski Beat. From what I’ve read, the beginnings of the movement were NOT race-related. Just an English working-class phenom that did indeed embrace black musical styles like Ira mentioned.

How things go from point ‘a’ (we’re proud to be working class, not ‘privileged’) to point ‘b’ (we’re working class and those star-bellied sneetches are going to take what we have away) is what we need to somehow end.

I guess I’m convinced it always takes a just plain BAD person to start this rhetoric and make it spread. (Regardless of musical taste).
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