Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Music, Undergroundism, Iran, Prison

So I'm reading this article in the last issue of Paste ever (hypothetical tears are running down my cheek as i slowly savor and dread the end of this magazine) about the movie Persian Cats, and its subject, the underground rock scene in Iran. I'm just thinking about the fact that the whole world is so big and so culturally different that there are literally places where people go to jail for playing concerts. And at first, I thought, 'man, rock and roll would be SO much more badass if you went to jail for playing it.' And then I thought about it seriously, and how really messed up the whole idea is. The backwards idea that music and culture and style in the middle east is wrong, and one should be refined to traditionalism, anti-creativity, and the standards.

I mean, we're constantly pushing the boundaries in life - all the time. Countries are competing for the best inventions, which will make them the most money. They want the most educated, brilliant people, so those people can bring ideas and make them flourish, and people will live happier, healthier, and possibly more satisfying lives. (Then again, that's only SOME countries. Some are anti-progress.)

So what's this thing in the Middle East (and let's talk Iran specifically) that is so against "progress" that a band cannot create Western music without it being controversial? I guess this argument could take a lot longer to develop than I'm doing, and I've never been a very good logical arguer because my thoughts are sporadic and out of order, but I guess what I'm trying to say is: ok, Iran isn't really trying to invent a new way of living (although I'm sure they're working on some pretty sophisticated bombs and weapons, and that counts as inventiveness), and progress can be seen as extreme evil (which, to some extent, in certain contexts, I understand), but the extent to which they are able to block any artistic expression of the younger generation is just exacerbating. They can quell politics and certain religions and oppress women and make people wear a certain type of clothing, but then even have to take away the most (or one of the most) elemental forms of art experimentation - music. How does a young person, in the internet age, live in a world where they are so restricted and so closed off - unless they are completely sheltered from what they could have?

I don't know what I'm trying to say. I'm not trying to sound like an American brat who can't comprehend a 22-year-old Iranian's situation, but in all reality, I can't comprehend it.

The article in Paste talks about how the internet is the one thing that opens up a new world to the youth generation in Iran, and for this, I think we need to be thankful. They can find different music and explore different worlds and step outside of their box. And of course, there are so much more important things than music that the internet can teach us. Like I said earlier, I'm just thinking on this very specific music level here, and I'm not trying to make it sounds like I think musical freedom is more important than social or political freedom or so many other types of freedom. It's just one very specific restriction that I bring up after reading this article.

My blog has readers in 36 countries, and I was just thinking of how amazing it is that I - a 22-year-old girl from a cluster of suburbs in Northeast Ohio - can share my thoughts, experiences, and songs with so many people of different cultures and backgrounds.

What do you guys think about people going to jail for listening to/playing rock music?

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