Criticism of Paul Ryan’s taste in music is misguided
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 01:08
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan recently pricked up some ears when he professed his love for rap metal group Rage Against the Machine.
The fact that Ryan likes the band is not surprising in the least – Rage is a multi-platinum-selling group, and virtually everyone knows at least one of the band’s songs.
However, once one delves deeper into Rage’s motives, it becomes obvious why Ryan’s comments were met with raised eyebrows – he stands for everything the group loathes.
You see, Rage Against the Machine is not be any stretch of the imagination your average rock group.
The members are highly educated, and they push a brand of aggressive political activism not found in most mainstream music.
Rage not only sings songs of rebellion; the group lives by a mantra of revolution.
This is not a group that has its songs delivered on a silver platter by professional songwriters; Rage writes what it wants, and it writes what it believes.
So, when conservative Mr. Ryan claimed he listened to the band frequently, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello took offense.
"Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades," Morello said in an exclusive piece submitted to Rolling Stone magazine. "Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine."
While Morello raises valid points – Ryan indeed stands for everything the band opposes – who cares?
Let me preface this by saying: music is an invaluable part of my life. It defines me as a human being and has led me through dark times, bright times and everywhere in between.
That said, we as music fans do not have to live by every word our favorite artists produce.
Such is the case with Ryan. As a United States Representative for Wisconsin’s first Congressional District, Ryan has become known for his conservative, right-wing viewpoint and ideals.
So why does he listen to Rage Against the Machine?
He listens to the band for the same reason I do – it is just damn good music.
The grooves, hard-hitting rhythms and expert rapping of vocalist Zack de la Rocha make Rage Against the Machine a truly once-in-a-generation act, and they’re just too good to miss, like the message or not.
I personally do not agree with everything Rage Against the Machine stands for, but that does not stop me from blasting "Bombtrack" and "Bulls on Parade" whenever I can, and it should not stop Ryan from doing the same.
While Ryan is clearly against everything the group stands for, that should not mean he cannot listen to them.
Really, that should not even mean we look at him any differently for listening to them.
Ryan himself acknowledged that he likes Rage’s "sound, not their lyrics," and that should be good enough for us.
Have we become so eager to jump on potential candidates that we care about what music they listen to? Are the contents of Paul Ryan’s iPod really that important, given the context of his being?
The man is running for vice president of the United States of America; he can listen to whatever he wishes.
Care about his political message, not his taste in tunes.
If you dislike Ryan for his stance on important issues in today’s world, I have absolutely no problem with that. You are entitled to your views, and I expect you to draw conclusions on a person’s character from the hot-button issues of today.
If, however, you cast off Ryan simply because he listens to Rage Against the Machine, shame on you.
Maybe you, too, have missed the band’s ever-present message, which advocates freedom in all areas of life.