Monday, August 9, 2010

Moral perspective: Preachy rock stars edition

I've just spent a fruitless half hour on YouTube trying to find a particular Tom Petty video. I could not so you'll just have to take my word about it.

It's a video from a few years ago now and it shows Tom Petty playing and singing while we see a sort of rotating diorama of small town life behind him. We see the street front and we see what is going on in the rooms upstairs. Got the picture?

Anyway, at one point we see the local bank and upstairs we see the manager, who looks like the cigar-smoking fat cat from Monopoly cards come to life, with his secretary over his knee.

Now think about the moral message here: this is a rock star preaching about bank managers who exploit women sexually. Tom Petty, who has to be vaguely aware of groupies and what happens to them, has spent time and effort telling us that fat cat bank managers of a type that we haven't seen since before Peyton Place was published are sexually exploiting women.

It's a sort of reverse case to being unable to understand the other person's perspective. This is someone who cannot properly understand life from his own moral perspective. And, I'd like to  emphasize, that cannot be because he is incapable of seeing things from his own perspective.

Rock music abounds with examples of this sort of thing. Consider "Mother's Little Helper" in which the Rolling Stones alert us about suburban housewives who are in danger because of their use of recreational drugs. Think about that one.

Or there is Michael Jackson in "The Man in the Mirror" preaching to us about moral self awareness.

And then we might consider anyone of dozens of examples in which multi-millionaire rock stars condemn wealth and greed.

My point, moral perspective is something to keep in mind but it is useless if, like Tom Petty and Mick Jagger, you are utterly incapable of making sensible moral judgments in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not familiar with Tom Petty so I can't comment on the video you refer to, as interesting as it sounds. I do agree with you about the multi-millionaire celebs who condemn wealth and greed. I don't know how many of them give back to society, like Bill and Melinda Gates, but maybe they think their acquisition of wealth was indicental to their pursuit of their artistic talent. I don't buy it.