Power in numbers

9 03 2010

The peculiar thing about music is the means through which it allows the listener to escape in the most passive way, and yet, the music industry is perhaps one of the most restricted businesses out there. This is especially true in light of recent shifts in copyright legislation both at home and abroad, like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which criminalizes the dissemination of atrists works through digital means in what would have previously been considered fair use (or fair dealing, here in Canada). It is specifically targeted at those who use the unregulated internet as a means of circumventing the copyright laws of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Act also restricts how much control artists have over their own music.

Some artists have taken a stance against these shifts and against the amounts of profit for which artists are robbed of by their labels. Canada’s very own Broken Social Scene which is comprised of as few as 6 and as many as 19 members – all of whom perform with other groups or as solo acts – has retained their independent status by working with independant labels and actually give away some of their music for free!

I think BSS stands for something more, though. The groups is a powerful collective of incredible artists, including Feist, Emily Haines and James Shaw from Metric, members from the Stars, and a host of other notable Canadian indie sensations. They represent the power in numbers. Not numbers in terms of wallets; but numbers in terms of how many people they can bring together under one roof, or within one medium, and how seemingly disparate these people can be.

Below is first release off of their forthcoming album, Forgiveness Rock Record, due May 4th. You can listen to it here. If you like it, click on the link above the playbar and you’ll be re-routed to the BSS website where you can download it for free.

Broken Social Scene – World Sick

And because they are so awesome, here are a couple more:

Broken Social Scene – Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old

Broken Social Scene – Almost Crimes

Broken Social Scene – Cause = Time]


Critical Reflection 3: the notion of discourse

5 03 2010

Elton John recently caused a stir amongst the Catholic Church and other Christian followers when he proclaimed that Jesus Christ was gay. He said, “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems” (AFP, 2010).

The Catholic Church responded by saying, “Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to say he was ‘super-intelligent’ is to compare the son of God to a successful game-show contestant […]More seriously, to call Jesus a homosexual is to label him a sexual deviant.” (AFP, 2010).

How do we know Jesus Christ was not a homosexual? And what gives the Church the power to respond to John’s statement with such assertion? Perhaps the better question might be: how have we come to know Jesus Christ was not a homosexual? And what processes shape(d) this understanding? …Keep reading after the jump

The Machine, hard at work.

4 03 2010

While under a different government, our home and native land decriminalized homosexuality and made it legal for same-sex couples to marry. But the current Conservative regime, with a failed attempt to ‘re-visit’ said issues in December of 2006 and little currency to undo the past, have opted to take a more coercively-passive approach to maintain their political ideologies and overarching dominant discourse on the matter.

In a new guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, has had any reference to Canada’s progressive strides made on gay rights quashed. The Globe and Mail reported: “Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005”. Despite having sided with same-sex marriage proponents in the 2005 parliamentary debates, Kenney is said to have “ordered those key sections removed”.

Kenny is but a pawn in much larger game – a game premised on dichotamizing ideologies that invariably forge a rift between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. In lieu of the preach on the abandonment of issues of equality for which our country has made many significant movements on its short history, I’d like to note that the politics of exclusion here pose both a hindrance and an instrument of empowerment. 

On the one hand, these ideologies attempt to suppress if not wholly erase history, imposing increased resistance upon the already marginalized; on the other,  the values of a suite of marginalized communities and their thoughts towards the way history is managed on the part of their government are verified, creating a parallel history that can and will be resurrected.

Creativity vs. Law

1 02 2010

Harvard law professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig, gives a really neat an insightful discussion on the state of the creative realm in the video below. He suggests that copyright laws, while originally derived to protect the work of artists and encourage creativity, are headed in the a very dangerous direction that could ultimately stifle creativity. And instead of protecting the artist’s work, this legislation is simply deepening the pockets of those in control of content production and channels of distribution.

You can learn more about Lessig and his interests by hopping over to his website, here. It’s worth noting that Lessig allows the free download of a number of his books, including Code 2.0 – a book that was partly written in concert with bloggers and other online folk via a wiki, and a seminal text in understanding some of the regulatory issues surrounding the World Wide Web.

If you like what Lessig has to say, or would like a to learn a little bit more on similar issues but from a Canadian perspective, check Michael Geist’s blog.