Friday, November 8, 2013

The Politics of Ed

Last month, in the lead up to Lightning Bolt's release, Pearl Jam released videos of them being interviewed by some of their friends.  If you were a particularly dedicated fan, you probably listened to all three or so hours worth of interviews which were released by a variety of different sources.

At least, that's what most of us thought.  As it turns out, the larger media has caught wind of a question in Eddie's interview with surfer, Mark Richards, released via The Brisbane Times.

“The fact that we’re living in a country where 90 percent of the people want further gun laws — to maybe somehow put a dent in some of this insanity that’s happening — and yet there’s no further legislation taking place, it’s very frustrating and upsetting.
I get so angry that I almost wish bad things upon these people, but I don’t have to because it seems like they happen anyways. It seems like every week I’m reading about a 4-year-old either shooting their sister, their dad, their dog, their brother or themselves, because there’s fucking guns laying around. But I guess it’s ‘fun.’”
Rather quickly, Ed drew flack from Eric Bolling of Fox News who conveniently snipped that quote short, mischaracterized it as a statement about gun-owners (not inactive legislators), and declared himself "done with Pearl Jam."  Then, last week, shortly after a brief statement about gun control in Connecticut, Eddie drew flack from Adan Slazar of for ignoring the possible increased death toll due to schools being gun-free zones and the death toll caused by drone bombing in the Middle East (the latter, a slight strawman if you ask me).

This brings up several interesting questions for Pearl Jam fans.  Is anyone really surprised by the liberal political views of Eddie Vedder or, for that matter, any member of Pearl Jam?  Should Pearl Jam just create their art and leave their politics out of it?  Did Ed go too far in mentioning that he "almost" wishes something bad would happen to opponents of gun control?  

The first two are easy.  With a catalog that includes at least one overtly political, social, and/or environmental song per album and two albums dedicated almost entirely to political issues, a list of oft-played cover tunes including some of the greatest political statements in music, and with a leftist political statement at nearly every Pearl Jam show since MTV's Unplugged, no.  No one has any reason to be shocked that Ed is a gun-control advocate.  As for keeping his politics to himself, Ed answered that himself in the book Pearl Jam Vs. Ames Bros., "Though some may think there should be a separation between art/music and politics, it should be reinforced that art can be a form of nonviolent protest."  

Now, as for the last question, did Ed go too far?  Answering that feels like it goes beyond this humble blogger's mission, but I will point out that he "almost wishes, but doesn't."  Can anyone honestly claim to have never wished ill will on a single person?  My wife once wished the pain of childbirth on me.  That didn't make Fox News.  Have your say.  There is already a spirited debate underway in our Forum.  We look forward to hearing from you.  

And in the meantime, remember what Ed said himself, later in that same interview, "In the old days we had civic heroes.  We had Ralph Nader.  We had Gloria Steinem. [...]  Why are they asking a rock musician who didn't even graduate high school to help lead the charge and take care of a complex issue.  That's a bad sign."

Glorified G, Vs.
Insignificance, Binaural
Masters of War, Asheville 10-6-2004
American in Me, Live at Easy Street
World Wide Suicide, Pearl Jam
Getaway, Lightning Bolt