Campaigning and Activism

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Angie Spray's picture
Posted on Mon, 02/02/2015 - 4:36pm
by Angie Spray

Member since: Sat, 01/03/2015

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Throughout R.E.M.'s career, its members sought to highlight social and political issues. According to the Los Angeles Times, R.E.M. was considered to be one of the United States' "most liberal and politically correct rock groups." The band's members were "on the same page" politically, sharing a liberal and progressive outlook. Mills admitted that there was occasionally dissension between band members on what causes they might support, but acknowledged "Out of respect for the people who disagree, those discussions tend to stay in-house, just because we'd rather not let people know where the divisions lie, so people can't exploit them for their own purposes." An example is that in 1990 Buck noted that Stipe was involved with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but the rest of the band were not.

R.E.M. helped raise funds for environmental, feminist and human rights causes, and were involved in campaigns to encourage voter registration. During the Green tour, Stipe took time during sets to inform the audience about a variety of pressing socio-political issues. Through the late 1980s and 1990s, the band (particularly Stipe) increasingly used its media coverage on national television to mention a variety of causes it felt were important. One example is when the band attended the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, during which Stipe wore a half-dozen white shirts emblazoned with slogans including "rainforest", "love knows no colors", and "handgun control now".

R.E.M. helped raise awareness of Aung San Suu Kyi and human rights violations in Burma, when they worked with the Freedom Campaign and the US Campaign for Burma. Stipe himself ran ads for the 1988 supporting Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis over then-Vice President George H. W. Bush. In 2004, the band participated in the Vote for Change tour that sought to mobilize American voters to support Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. R.E.M.'s political stance, particularly coming from a wealthy rock band under contract to a label owned by a multinational corporation, received criticism from former Q editor Paul Du Noyer, who criticized the band's "celebrity liberalism", saying, "It's an entirely pain-free form of rebellion that they're adopting. There's no risk involved in it whatsoever, but quite a bit of shoring up of customer loyalty."

From the late 1980s, R.E.M. was involved in the local politics of its hometown of Athens, Georgia. Buck explained to Sounds in 1987, "Michael always says think local and act local—we have been doing a lot of stuff in our town to try and make it a better place." The band often donated funds to local charities and to help renovate and preserve historic buildings in the town. R.E.M.'s political clout was credited with the narrow election of Athens mayor Gwen O'Looney twice in the 1990s.

 

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R.E.M. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.E.M. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/