The Motion Sick: Why Obama?

My essay for the Why Obama? series on Largehearted Boy has been posted at:

Go on over there to read it.  Here I comment on the process of writing such an essay…

Kid Rock made an interesting statement recently:
“I truly believe that people like myself, who are in a position of entertainers in the limelight, should keep their mouth shut on politics. Because at the end of the day, I’m good at writing songs and singing. What I’m not educated in is the field of political science. And so for me to be sharing my views and influencing people of who I think they should be voting for … I think would be very irresponsible on my part.”

While I agree in a sense that for artists, there is something inherently strange about leveraging notoriety to push sociopolitical beliefs, it is virtually unavoidable.  Our creations, if any good, inherently reflect our experiences, beliefs, fears, and pleasures.  It’s artificial to hide from or deny those things, however deeply coded or cryptic they might be in our creations.  

While one could argue on behalf of other instances, I believe that The Motion Sick has only one overtly political song, “My Country.”  While I am proud of this song and what it says, it is widely misinterpreted as anti-patriotic or critical of the armed forces or as containing any variety of other blanket anti-war themes.  In fact, the song is about deciding not to wage war because we have succumbed to fear, but rather to think rationally and critically about the purpose of sacrificing one’s self for a nation.  In addition, the song attempts to explore what it means to be part of such an artificially defined and delineated group.  I hope that there is no such thing as a person that is anything but anti-war, so I don’t really understand such a label.

In no way did I intend it as critical of necessary conflict nor as a denouncement of those willing to place themselves in the line of fire for the sake of restoring world peace and safety.  However, with every song and every creation, you not only take the risk that misinterpretation will occur, you sign an agreement allowing misinterpretation.  

In Umberto Eco’s Interpretation and Overinterpretation, there lies some discourse on the rights of the author, the rights of the reader, and the rights of the text.  Most academics agree that the reader has at least some right to their own logical interpretation, even if such understandings conflict with the author’s intended meaning.  So, every time I write a political song, I feel like I take a great risk and this is why it is a rare occasion.  A political essay, though less artistic and metaphoric, is scarcely different.

While it’s hardly bold for a musician and University worker living in Massachusetts to declare support for the Democratic candidate, public discussion of my political views makes me uneasy.  The primary reason is that anything I present in this type of forum is tremendously incomplete and fails to demonstrate the subtleties of belief and decision.  As I point out in the essay itself, there are probably a million valid reasons to pick Obama as the superior choice, but I must point out that if my beliefs differed, there are likely many reasons to make other choices.  So, I hope that as you read what I have written about Barack Obama, you will include that information and that line of thought in your voting decision process, but that you will also intelligently and carefully weigh all of the available information.  If we are in disagreement regarding our choice of candidate, I hope that you will not allow that to interfere with your enjoyment of The Motion Sick’s music (provided that you do enjoy it) and you will know that I respect any decision that is made based on careful thought, rather than on single-issue platforms, skill of staff speech writers, gender, race, or any other factor that might be disproportionately weighed.  Such bases for decision, I do not respect. 


The Motion Sick Blog –