Does listening to/paying for music with extreme themes (rape, paedophilia, racism etc) mean that, on some level, you condone it?
I suppose this is only really in reference to those bands/artists where you have a sense authenticity, and that they might actually mean it - not those that are obviously 'joking'.
This came up following the recent Never Say When: 30 Years of Broken Flag Records festival (http://cmx.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/nsw.jpg)
It was basically a 3 day noise/power electronics festival featuring a lot of the (mainly UK) 'old guard' from that scene. But there were two acts in particular, which when discussed with my girlfriend when I got home, raised the opening question.
One is a guy who goes under the name Con-Dom (short for Control Domination). His set was, basically, racist. His whole 'thing' is the expression of KKK-style extreme evangelical Christian views. It's not always easy to make out specific lyrics in his music, but he had a backing video (which he's been using since the 80s) which showed close up passages of text from a book which I assume is a KKK handbook or similar. Things like "niggers are only useful as slaves", "niggers will never be accepted by the Lord, nor enter the Kingdom of Heaven", stuff like that. It would then flick to old images/videos of black people being abused and stuff like that. It was really uncomfortable, but it was also amazing. It was also presented without comment - in such a way that he was almost just showing the audience the images without passing judgement on it himself or telling us what his own opinion on it is (a classic troll tactic).
I later bought two of his tapes which were live sets from the mid-80s, one was called "Calling All Aryans" and the other "Even More Racial Hatred" (probs the best title ever, by the way).
The second set was by Consumer Electronics (Philip Best of Whitehouse's solo project, although he played with a full band). Anyone who's ever listened to anything Best has ever done will know the drill lyrically - stuff about rape, subjication of women yada yada yada. But it takes on a whole new dimension live. He's a bald, topless, overwight man in his late-40s wearing leather trousers and sunglasses. He has this homemade scrap book with, amongst other things, pictures of young pre-pubescent girls. He flicks through the book while the maelstrom of noise continues behind him, until he finds pictures of his 'favourite' girls. He then licks and kisses the picture 'sensuously', rubs it over his genitals, touches himself and so on. Written down here, or listened to on record, it all seems so extreme as to be silly, but when you see it live there's an un-nerving sense that he's not entirely joking (even if, similarly, he's not being entirely serious). Not that it makes much difference, but this guy has a PhD, so he's not an idiot - he knows what he's doing.
Now, I love these two artists, have put money directly into their pockets, and will continue to do so in the future. I definitely don't 'condone' or live out any of the themes raised in their music in real life (for lack of a better term), but I am, it seems, happy to contribute to others who espouse these things. My girlfriend questioned whether I was morally comfortable with this and, having thought about it, I am. We often pay artists to explore extreme ideas in other artistic fields, so why not music? Indeed, through the likes of the Arts Council and the Tate Modern, this kind of work is at times even paid for by the Government.
To a much lesser extent, has anyone here ever bought a gangsta rap album? Of course not, this is DiS. But if you had, it would no doubt be littered with tales of violence, and will most likely be derogatory toward women at some point. The album is also likely to be traded on its authenticity. Is buying the album condoning that lifestyle? I think most people would argue it is not. The likes of Con-Dom and Consumer Electronics are no different in that respect, it's just that they perhaps take the themes a bit further in the way they are presented - but the approach remains the same.
So yeah, what do you think?