Friday, September 14, 2012

The Lesson of Relax

I remember waking up to Mike Read on Radio 1. He had taken a look at Frankie Goes To Hollywood's single 'Relax', and he decided not to play it on the show. Around the same time the BBC decided to take it off air (despite an earlier Top of The Pops appearance). The band had already been profiled on Channel 4's tea-time music sghow "The Tube". The inevitable result was that the single sold a huge number of copies, along with "Frankie Says..." merchandise. The action meant to protect us all ended up achieving the complete opposite.

The protests about the video which mocks Islam are entirely understandable, and clearly show the cultural and religious mis-matches between the West and the Islamic world. I haven't seen it and have no intention of doing so, however, two things strike me. First, the protests are against the West, rather than specifically the makers of the movie. No amount of denunciation by Western leaders or calls for calm in the Middle East appear to be making any difference. That tells us this is not just about that - the grievances against the West and specifically US policy run deeper than the anger over this specific issue. That should give us all food for thought.

Secondly, the strength of the protest has probably resulted in many millions more curious people taking a look. The irony is that in the internet age, protesting against or banning something is probably the best way of promoting it to a whole new audience who would have missed it otherwise.

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