A couple of years ago, at the height of ISIS sponsored terrorism, I toyed with the idea of creating a playlist that would maximally insult the religious fundamentalists. It never got off the ground; in the end I didn’t find the idea of insulting people that appealing. And so I abandoned the project, but not before reading some interesting material about the way the CIA used music to torture (Muslim) prisoners in the war against terror. I remember thinking it was indeed torture to force prisoners to listen day and night to ‘Dirrty’ or ‘We are the champions’…but if torture was the only objective…anything by Justin Bieber would have been sufficient.
The CIA got it all wrong and could have saved itselfa lot of effort. I assume they a had a music department responsible for selecting all these sexually explicit or blasphemous tunes. Did they really believe religious zealots would listen to Madonna or Britney Spears and think: damn you for playing those immoral tunes…! Of course not. Music, any music, represents freedom and is by definition morally wrong in the eyes of the religiously fanatic.
It was just loudness, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The professional association of Otolaryngologists should have protested against it.
Thinking about it…don’t we often involuntarily hit the wall of our own beliefs. Gay love or sex is probably equally repulsive to Muslims and Christians, and yet the CIA didn’t play Soft Cell, Bronski Beat, The Village People, The Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Fever Ray, Frank Ocean, George Michael, P!nk, Against Me!, Janelle Monae, Scissor Sisters, Boy George, or Rufus Wainwright.
Or anything by Elton John (apart from Candle in the Wind).
Knowing the fear of homosexuality on both sides of the fence the most ironic (and funny) song to play in the torturous context of Guantanomo would have been ‘I want to break free’.
But subtlety is an art lost on the CIA and its prison guards. So is subversiveness. Otherwise someone would have come up with the brilliant idea of bombarding the prisoners with 4’33”.Tweet