Music and Politics
The war on terror thrives on pantomime demons, created and maintained by political opportunism, convenient stereotype and uncritical celebrity scholarship.
Pantomime is a theatrical form that has come to rule our everyday lives as terror. In the early years of the 21st century, a dissembling political demonology has sometimes placed otherwise merely lyrical musicians in a volatile predicament. The discussion here is of Fun-da-Mental's Aki Nawaz portrayed as a 'suicide rapper', Asian Dub Foundation striking poses from the street in support of youth in Paris and Algiers, and M.I.A., born free fighting immigration crackdown with atrocity video.
Along the way, bus bombs, comedy circuits, critical theory, Arabian Nights, Bradley Wiggins, Dinarzade, Karl Marx, Paris boulevards, Molotov, Mao, the Eiffel Tower, reserve armies, lists, Richard Wagner, Samina Malik, Slavoj Žižek, Freudian slips, red-heads, Guantanamo. The book offers some sharp critiques of our contemporary complacency, and the failures of theory as more than ten years of war on terror turns anxiety at home and drone-strike assassinations abroad into a normal everyday. This pantomime is a terror story told over and over to distract from the workings of a despotic power. The need for an adequate (winning) counter-narrative was never more clear.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
- If you’re of the opinion that music and politics should generally keep the fuck out
of each other’s way, then Pantomime Terror will be a tough sell. But author John Hutnyk’s polemic is rational, convincing and supported by relentless, tirelessly researched cross-referencing, so consider us sold. ~ Record Collector UK
- This book starts with the countless provocations that surround us in the ambient war on terror. However, rather than retreating into either loathsome self-pity or indignant self-righteousness, Hutnyk responds with the thumping provocation to think and get real! ~ Nikos Papastergiadis, University of Melbourne
- For two decades, Hutnyk's research on diasporic music and politics has been at the political and scholarly cutting edge. Moving from ADF and Fun-Da-Mental, to MIA and Wagner, his work is always contextualised with relevance and an unstinting anti-racist, anti-imperialist commitment. Here in the not-so-great British tradition of pantomime parody with its Molotov cocktail caricatures of hero(in)es, villains and sidekicks, Hutnyk urges us to look at how horror is accompanied by the ludic, and how the culture industry is reined into the post 9/11 war on terror: ‘the pantomime of politics, the theatre of power, the double-plays of deception’. War peculates through every cell and membrane in our numbed bodies, only to be resigned to the waste basket of disposable culture. With its cogent attack on what have become cultural icons, Pantomime Terror updates Adorno for this terror-saturated age - masterful in its sweep, engaging in its style and thought-provoking in its analysis. ~ Raminder Kaur, University of Sussex