Why am I blogging about S/M art? I’m not really into it, per se. But I like that in theory it represents a whole host of transgressive acts of liberation.
In America, however, the really revolutionary acts are not sexual but economic.
As befits an Economist reader, I find Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor's most transgressive act is not him singing, “I want to fuck you like an animal, You get me closer to God,” (though I do love that), but him telling concert-goers to revolt against unfairly high CD-prices by stealing them:
It puts him in league with Abbie Hoffman, the Sixties revolutionary who wrote Steal This Book.
It’s not an invitation to get ripped off, anymore than S/M is an invitation to rape; Reznor doesn’t really want to live on a bus-driver’s salary—though Mr. Hoffman did envision life without money.
Reznor and bands like Radiohead are revisioning the economic structure--record labels that rip people off, artists and fans alike, for huge profits.
Not surprisingly, many bookstores wouldn't carry Steal This Book, since people stole it, but musicians (and writers, like us) have an avenue Hoffman didn't:
Reznor said in a 2007 interview:
"The greatest thing about the Internet is that everybody is their own distributor. Being your own distributor is power and the thing that labels once held over artists."
In 2007 Radiohead got around the record companies by offering their latest release on the Internet, asking downloaders to “pay what you want”.
This opens plenty of other cans of worms;
but it’s a adaptation that could shake up the stranglehold of a greed-driven music industry.
Reznor knows this is revolutionary:
"The power of getting your message out to an audience is very empowering as an artist.
"These are exciting times and things are happening that I couldn't imagine just a few years ago."
And--back to the Economist--Alan Greenspan, chair of the Federal Reserve until 2006, says something very similar:
"Progress is not automatic... it will demand future adaptations as yet unimaginable.
"But the frontier of hope that we all innately pursue will never close.”
--Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence; Adventures in a New World (2007).
And--since I haven't mentioned Star Trek in a while (uh...that would be 48 hours)--let me add that Alan Greenspan's words, “The Enlightenment’s legacy of individual rights and economic freedom has unleashed billions of people to pursue the imperatives of their nature...." echo Mr. Spock's in "Amok Time":
"It would be illogical for us to protest against our natures.
Don't you think?"