Assessment, Rock stars, why do they exist, and are they amongst you?

Fraser MacIntyre
Social Media Assessment A
10013644
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When most people think of musicians, their thoughts probably drift to ‘rock stars’, the larger than life characters popular culture thrives on. Keith Richards, Sid Vicious, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Gallagher and Slash. I guarantee whoever is reading this recognised at least one of those names. Why?

Since popular music’s inception with artists including The Beatles, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, the media and its audience have create hype about individual musicians that has built them up into being famous figures, some even described as ‘legends’. Posters of them adorn walls in homes all around the world. There are books, T-Shirt ranges, cults, documentaries and websites devoted to them. They have become figureheads of generations, their actions become headline news, the essence of what is defined ‘cool’ and unlike most others, they are loved even more for acts of violence and drug use that would otherwise be condemned.

World famous band The Rolling Stones could be described as a group of drug and alcohol addicts who have committed heinous crimes with reckless abandon. But their list of admirers and friends contains the likes of former US president Bill Clinton. Singer Mick Jagger, despite numerous convictions, was given the prestige of being knighted by the Queen. The Queen herself, knighted a man previously addicted to sex and heroin, who is actually banned from Blackpool.

Why the exception? Why do these men and women get a free pass from authority? Perhaps, in a world of rules and regulations, with stuffy leaders like David Cameron in the centre of the public eye, society needs to see some genuine characters stir up the system, the likes of which would otherwise only exist in film and books. What sets these ‘rock stars’ apart from the rest of the tabloid’s victims, and what may be the defining thing that catapults them to fame, is that they go about their (sometimes morally questionable) lives with an aura of genuine talent, style and class that attracts the attention of people. They do what they feel like, in the way they want to do it. Sometimes their actions could be labelled dangerous and dark, but that only adds further intrigue of the public into their personal life. And out of their eccentricities and stunts comes music that has at times shaped generations.

John Lydon of The Sex Pistols was a central figurehead for the 70s punk protest movement against the stagnant British political system. In the 90s, when social change was afoot and the new labour party gained momentum, quotes from Noel Gallagher of Oasis were printed with the same prestige as many politicians. People listen to and admire ‘rock stars’.

Why is this a bad thing? They glorify violence, dirty sex, low morals, drugs, alcohol abuse, smoking and irresponsible and unethical behaviour. Children, teenagers and adults alike idolise them and will obviously be influenced by their bad behaviour. They aren’t judged on the same level as one would anyone else because they are only seen in the media and performing, they are seen in the same way a film character is seen, stirring excitement as people want a taste of their passionate, expressional personality.

Why is this a good thing? In my own experience, I have come across several ‘rock stars’, and most of these meetings resulted in some of the most spontaneous and memorable experiences I’ve had in my life, one of the highlights including a midnight adventure on a few planks of wood, drifting down a river, all because Yannis from Foals thought it would be interesting. I definitely don’t idolise them, and don’t admire them in the traditional sense of them being ‘cool’ and ‘dangerous’, but for the zest for life they seem to have. I’ve had the opportunity to converse with Duff McKagan, former bassist of Guns N’ Roses on several occasions, a man who has played with some of the most famous musicians of all time, almost died of drug addiction, whilst retaining a finance degree, a popular blog for Seattle Weekly, major stock interest and a keen interest in kickboxing. What I find inspiring is the diversity of his activities and interests, the concept of reinventing oneself. ‘Rock stars’ rapidly change not only their music, but their style, activities, where they live and their beliefs.

It probably is the money that allows them such freedoms to express themselves, but the amount of experiences they gain out of a life is what I believe people should be inspired by, not the drugs, the sex or the drink. When life becomes less of a work through the week for the weekend and holidays fare, and more of a day-day experience.

However, just because these ‘rock stars’ are highlights of the public attention, does not mean they are the only interesting characters on the planet. No, there are plenty of exceptional people, full of ambitions, zest for life and exciting stories. They may not always be the most successful people in the world, but they take what they can and make the most of it, and I always look forward to meeting someone of that description.

I personally value good friendship, but what I most admire about a person is their individuality, their own style and creating new opportunities and experiences for themselves and those with them. Spending time with these people, or reading about ‘rock stars’, who are basically the same mould of people amplified into legends of popular culture, is escapism from 9-5 life, an eye opener to ‘living free’ and making the most out of your time. They are the anti-thesis of the couch potato, video game loving, indoors limited model our next generation seem to be following to an extent.

They may have many mis-deeds to account for, but ‘rock stars’ seem to embody the side of us I think we should embrace more; creativity, individuality, eccentricities and self expression. However, I believe an interesting man or woman, with stories to tell, and the willingness to create new memories, is just as interesting and admirable as any famous musician, and are ‘rock stars’ themselves in my eyes.

Though I will say, the term ‘rock star’ is the most cliché label on the planet, and it has pained me greatly to write it so many times, but until a decent term for such people arises, I will have to live with it.

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3 Responses

  1. My list of rock stars:
    Brian Johnson
    Gene Simmons
    Stephen Tyler
    Phil Collins

    These rock stars are by all means reasonably quiet ones – these are the ones i idolise

  2. Brilliant blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    I myself, idolise rock stars, but not for their wild lifestyles but more for their quirkiness, sense of style and unique personalities.

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