Friday, June 09, 2006

Barry Manilow

According to the BBC (June 5th, 2006),
"Barry Manilow has been enlisted to fight anti-social behaviour in Sydney, where his music will be piped into a car park to disperse youths".
Classical music is often used as a form of social control: for example in Durham, Luton, Worthing, and in parts of Northern Ireland. And loud rock music has been used as a form of torture (Disco Inferno, via Pedraum), as well as a way of ending sieges. President Bush the First tried in vain to use rock music (Psywarrior via Marginal Utility) to force General Noriega out of the Vatican embassy in Panama after Operation Just Cause. (Psywarrior also reports the theory that the loud music was intended as a sound barrier: "to mask sensitive negotiations between General Cisneros and Monsignor Laboa".)

I saw the film Clockwork Orange when it first came out, and was disturbed by the several different kinds of violence portrayed in the film - first inflicted by Alex and then inflicted upon Alex - associated with the music of Beethoven. In a horrible way, classical music becomes part of the violence. (So much for soothing the savage breast!)

Music produces a wide range of effects (including sex and shopping) and is therefore used (and abused) for all sorts of purposes. But what we see happening in Australia is more complex and cross-purposed - playing one style of music against another. As Ken writes on the Marginal Utility blog, quoting from Meatloaf, Everything Louder Than Everything Else.

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