Rock and Roll and a Reason Why American Musicians No Longer Capture the World's Imagination?
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.” -PericlesI sit at the Yakitori-ya (BBQ chicken on sticks restaurant) and nurse my Hoppy and a few delicious sticks of chicken. Kashimura san, the neighborhood school English teacher besides me howls about the decline of Japanese civilization,
"Japanese kids today don't care about studying English. They don't want to go to the United States anymore. They are not fascinated by the west. If Japanese kids don't learn about other cultures, especially the United States, Japan is doomed!" He says.
I laugh. Kashimura san comes from an older generation of Japanese. He is from the generation that grew up with Elvis Presley and Rock and Roll music. The United States, to his generation of Japanese, represented dreams and freedom. Kashimura even has posters of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe - very old American idols from a day long past - on the walls of his classroom. But, that's not what the United States represents to young Japanese people anymore... I say to him,
"Don't worry about it, Kashimura san. It's not the end of Japanese civilization, it is the end of the United States. You are just witnessing the fall of the American empire, that's all. That's what it is."
Kashimura stares at me incredulously.
"Seriously, that's what it is, Kashimura san. Japanese kids are not interested in the United States anymore NOT so much because the Japanese kids have changed so much, kids are always kids and interested in fun and excitement, they are just not interested in the United States anymore because the United States isn't fun and exciting anymore. It has changed, and not for the better. The United States isn't a good place full of dreams.
It used to be that the USA were the good guys, but they are not anymore. The USA and NATO lackeys as well as the UN (which has become a rubber stamp organization for US imperialism) bomb and destroy the homes and families of brown skinned people all over the world 24/7 and it is obvious to everyone (excepting many Americans).
I hear that Japanese enrollment at Ivy League universities are way down. I know for a fact the enrollment in English schools in Japan has crashed. I submit to you that it is because of three things:
- The United States has a very bad image of a country full of crime and a definitive lack of safety
- The United States has a very bad image of a country full of abusive police and a police state (TSA, Homeland Security, etc...)
- The United States and its people have the image of a nation of war mongers
I'd like to add another one to that list but I don't think most Japanese realize this (I do - I talk to Americans all the time) and that is: Far too many Americans are completely out of touch and ignorant of the extent of the murder the US government and military are involved in in the name of the people. The really dumb Americans act like and say, "I'm apolitical." When, in fact, it is these very same people who are responsible for what has happened to that country. They can bury their heads in the sand all they want. But they are responsible.
I wonder if the sixties artists who protested the Vietnam war, guys like Bob Dylan, would have gotten very far if while the Vietnam War was going on and we were bombing those people 24/7, he'd have shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know about it. I'm apolitical."
Ha! How can you be apolitical when your country takes your money and uses it to kill children in other countries? That's like Germans in World War II saying they are apolitical while the Nazis killed minorities and Jews and wiped out entire populations.
"Yeah... But, well, I don't know about that!" Typical American says.
Since when has ignorance been an excuse?
So this situation is why Japanese kids are no longer fascinated with the USA. I believe it is also a big reason American and western rock artists are no longer popular here. What ever happened to musicians who had a message and something to say? Weren't politically charged and motivated artists in the sixties moving entire segments of society? They sure were in Japan!
What's the difference between the artists of those days and today's American artists? Back in those days, the American military were bombing and killing brown skinned children 24/7, yet American musicians sang about it and protested. They were popular all over the world.
Today, the American military are bombing and killing brown skinned children all over the world 24/7, yet American musicians, for the large part, are in muted silence... They tell me, "I'm apolitical."
Ha! Yeah, and you don't sell records all over the world like you used to either.