Farm Aid: Activism Takes the Stage

Celebration with a mission

| November 2003 Issue

Today's musical atmosphere is a far cry from the 1960s, when artists of all kinds were critical players in efforts to end the Vietnam War, promote civil rights, launch the environmental movement, and take women's rights to a new level. Britney Spears' recent response to a question about Iraq tells how far backwards we've gone: "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that."

Part of the problem has to do with well-funded conservative groups that launch an attack any time an entertainer speaks out. Groups such as the Media Research Center, Accuracy in Media, and RightNation immediately pounce on artists who dare take a progressive political stand. The Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, Ani DiFranco, Martin Sheen, and many others have been on the receiving end of their venom. The uproar is usually furious and the ramifications often swift. Such attacks are intended to have an unmistakable chilling effect on other artists who may want to express their views. For many, the decision to not speak out comes down to preserving their career.