The Weaponization of Pop

Crimes Against Autotune: Relevance and Vanity in Pop Videos

An old friend of mine, Caitlin Burns, brings up an exceedingly interesting point that I don’t think anyone else is talking about. Pop music is increasingly being used as a way for fancy rich people to play fancy rich games and flirt with being even more famous. The possibility of ANY video to go viral based on some weird eldritch magicks that “no one” understands ensures that we now, have this available to our eyes:

For those of us playing the home game, the person “singing” (I’m going to use that term extremely loosely from here on) is the daughter of the dictator-president Islom Abdug‘aniyevich Karimov of Uzbekistan. While this guy has a laundry list of human rights violations & general crimes against humanity, this is not about him, it’s about her. She’s “singing” (there I go again) and talking about how hard it is to be the daughter of a guy who forced sterilizations on women, tortured his citizens & arbitrarily arrested people. Mrs. Burns has the second single on her blog where she “sings” a duet with with star of stage, screen & (more recently) French airport departure lounge Gerard Depardieu.

This isn’t just some innocent daughter, she’s been strongly implicated in sex trafficking, mass killings and is generally feared in Uzbekistan circles about as much as Uday Hussein was in Iraq. And now, she’s being positioned to be the next “pop star.” While my friend Caitlin spent her extremely well used time discussing the nature of the pop media engine and how virality lends credibility to an otherwise vapid “famous for being famous” career, I’d like to focus on something different.

This song, from 2004 was the first time I noticed an inherently pro-consumption message in “hip hop.” While Puff Daddy and others on both coasts had blingified rap to the point of barf-inducing absurdity, they’d never overtly advocated for the system or the man. When I heard the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air say “don’t download go buy the record,” it reached me on a very personal level, as I’d downloaded before. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Will Smith’s musical career, but this seemed to almost be a challenge to me through the speakers of the radio. I’d never been confronted with pro-corporate messages in the music I’d listened to before, and I wasn’t expecting it.

This started happening more and more, and now, we’ve got not just pop but rap, house & dubstep being used to do everything from sell not only products, but lifestyles. These lifestyles that listeners wish to emulate are increasingly complex and “real” with all of the little details, imperfections and narratives being filled out over time, such that the music is reflective of what people are listening to while living. The fact that marketers are fabricating the lives of “people” for their marketing, and those faux people exist in a world where they’re bombarded by marketing is so meta it makes my head hurt. Daddy’s little girl has an entirely different perspective on her life portrayed in her video, which not only white-washes her own international image but throws a halo-effect onto her father. And, just in case the music video catches, she gets to make ALL THE MONEY!!

Buzzfeed cashed in on this a while ago, and it really hit home just how successful making music for mass consumption is for me. Hence why I’m not surprised that pop is now being used by the most terrible of us. Frankly, it seems a wonderful way to both launder money and help keep your kids happy, especially if you’re an absentee father because you’re spending all your time massacring you population & stripping them of their rights. Aldous Huxley talked about this quite a bit when it came to controlling large swaths of the population using more complex cultural propaganda. It seems that viral pop music is just another weapon in that arsenal now. Not only will the music contain pro-corporate & pro-authority messages, but it’ll actually be produced and even performed by a familial representation of the boot on the neck of the populace.

Check out Caitlin’s article, and feel free to leave a comment if you have something to say as well. This is totally new territory and I’d love to hear what people say on the topic.

One thought on “The Weaponization of Pop


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.