Thursday, September 01, 2005

KAR's Iron Maiden Research Guy Speaks Out

I've been drafted.

Yep, Learned Foot has drafted me into the war between Bruce Dickinson and Sharon Osbourne. Footsie, of course, serves under Bruce in the Minnesota Theater of Operations. His opposite number on Sharon's side is the reclusive JB Doubtless, reportedly hiding out in a Gopher Hole somewhere in the vicinity of Rochester. My mission is to provide Learned Foot with informational support in favor of Iron Maiden that will allow him to eventually expose and publicly humiliate the youngest Frater Libertas.

JB, you see, has written a scathing piece attacking Bruce Dickinson for being a meathead and defending Sharon Osbourne...because Bruce is against her. Basically, JB says that Bruce is a lefty (therefore not one of us!) and Foot says that Bruce is a righty (which would put him on our side, yay!).

I am going to be fair to both sides, since both JB and LF made a few good points. First, let me say that in the current entertainment industry climate, I generally assume that an entertainer is a leftist until proven otherwise. The proof needs to be more than one sentence long. Neil Young once said that Ronald Reagan had some good ideas and was castigated as a Republican -- even though he was a Canadian citizen. It took years for him change this perception, and he did so by writing "Keep On Rocking In the Free World", a killer song with crappy political lyrics mocking Bush 41. A lot of people make the same mistake with other performers. So let me go on record here stating that I do not believe that either Ozzy Osbourne or Bruce Dickinson can accurately be called "conservative" or "right of center". They just happen to say a lot of things that make sense, as well as a lot of things that don't.

Look at their views on war in general, and the Iraq wars in particular. "War Pigs" is Black Sabbath's very old and very familiar take on warfare. Strip away the invocations of apocalyptic imagery, and you have a "ordinary people have to fight the wars that the powerful people start" message. It's anti-war, but not anti-soldier. By 2002, Ozzy had come to feel differently about war. He was photographed wearing a helmet while sitting in a tank (looked better than Dukakis, actually) and quoted in one interview as saying that we needed to go in and get rid of Saddam Hussein militarily. That Ozzy is a regular Pat Robertson, isn't he? Meanwhile, Sabbath drummer Bill Ward recorded a anti-war single that he distributed for free to influential people, including George Bush and Tony Blair, to make known his opposition to the Iraq war. In a message on his web site, he made his feelings known while respectfully referring to GWB as "our President" and not acting like a Moonbat. And, as Learned Foot pointed out, Ward led the effort to remove the inflammatory "Bush=Hitler" message from the Sabbath stage set at last year's Ozzfest. He may not be on "our side", but he is a gentleman who appreciates the right to express his opinion. A lot of people could take a lesson from him.

Maiden (or at least principal lyricist Steve Harris) understands that, although war is a bad thing, sometimes it is necessary, hence a song like "Aces High" saluting the RAF's airborne defenders of the Battle of Britain. For every anti-war song in the Maiden repertoire, you can find at least one song endorsing the need for military action in a just cause. Learned Foot referred to my landmark KAR comment about Bruce Dickinson's take on Saddam and the Gulf War back in 1991. Yes, Bruce went on stage and made comments supporting the troops and condemning Saddam. But did he actually say anything that was "pro-war"? The next Iron Maiden album in 1992 had a Steve Harris song that managed to straddle the line between pro-war and anti-war. Yes, war is wrong and killing is bad, but you can't leave a Saddam in power. Another good lesson.

As for political identity, I'm not sure where Ozzy comes down. I have heard that Sharon gave money to Hillary Clinton but could not confirm that at Open Secrets. Sharon is all about celebrity, which means that she probably leans left but kisses up to everyone equally. Learned Foot found a reference to Bruce's Conservative Party involvement as a college student, but keep in mind that people change. The Bruce of over 25 years ago is very likely not the Bruce of today. For one thing, he did his own Bush 41 mocking song called "1,000 Points of Light" a couple of years after the Gulf War. His behavior and comments on the current tour indicate that he hasn't changed since 1992.

I have one other comment, in defense of JB Doubtless (sorry, Foot!). Zakk Wylde did not suddenly speak out in support of the troops at Sharon's behest. He showed his support last year while the Bushitler image appeared during "War Pigs". (Go here and look at item #4.) Don't drag him down with the Osbournes. Zakk is the only one who has had his head on straight about this all along.


Sharon: Bitchy
Bruce: Jerky
Ozzy: Clueless
Rod Smallwood (Maiden manager): He's a Yorkshireman, he can take it
Nicko: Clever and witty
Bill Ward: A classy gentleman
All the guitarists and bass players: Apparently know how to shut up and play

Learned Foot: Too enthusiastic
JB Doubtless: Too cynical
Me: Outta here

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