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Music has remained to be a fundamental factor in protests. Songs seemingly ignite emotions in people, and they tend to respond to the melodies, the tunes, the majestic orchestrations and the inspiring anthems. Hence, there is no doubt that music is an essential part of the society. Protest music in America started to develop during the Vietnam era in the 1960s. What is more is that music during the time portrayed to be a significant factor and artists started to express their political viewpoints using songs. Therefore, there was the emergence of protest music which was responsible for remedying the social turmoil of the society. Musicians like Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and Woody Guthrie composed songs that encouraged people to demonstrate against the inequalities that were perpetrated at the time. The 1960s is thus labeled to be an age of protest that brought about the music of protest. The songs spread the underlining message in political movements which were critical in identifying problems and offering solutions to the issues that affected people in the community. As such, protest music has been an instrument of social transformation and a voice of the people against the undesirable government policies and corruption.
In the modern world, there have been unrests that are geared towards realizing the desirable changes in order to make the lives of people better. Arguably, protesting with music is a way of expressing the concerns of the current events that people feel require change. During the era of civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, music signified to be an inherently social experience (Pettit 206). The song Meat is Murder
addresses the detrimental issue of killing animals for the purpose of meat which denotes to be a significant problem in the modern society. In many game parks, it is sad that numerous animals are killed and poached with an intention to obtain ivory, skin or meat for personal or consumption purposes. The power and passion rooted in the lyrics of the song Meat are Murder could bring a tear to the listener's eye. Animal abuse cause suffering and the extent of cruelty raises concerns. Different jurisdictions throughout the world including the animal welfare initiate policies that direct to minimize unnecessary pain inflicted on the animals. The music also fits the utilitarian advocates who argue that the cost and benefit in the treatment of animals should drive at the highest net benefit. Besides, the animal rights theorists offer critical approach on the murder of animals. The only way to ensure their protection is to end the killings and ensure that they are not used as food. The Smiths’ song protests against the acts of violence done towards animals which cause psychological harm.
The song Meat is Murder by The Smiths was released on 11 February 1985. The song denoted to be symbolic to the animal activists and designated to be one of the most controversial and political songs that emphasize on the rights of animals. The Smiths band musicians advocate for animal rights. The singers are activists and this is evident from the lyrics where they say “A death for no reason/ And death for no reason is MURDER” (A-Z Lyrics). Here, the listener gets the message that killing animals is cruel and thus not acceptable in the society. The singers draw emphasis by making use of more than one syllable and thus hitting the tone and letting the words communicate the theme of the song. In reference to the song, Meat is Murder, poachers have to realize that animals have the right to live and hence denying them only translates to infringement of liberty (Edmundson 4). The song is indeed trying to convey that people have to be responsible and have empathy towards animals. The lyrics “Heifer whines could be human cries/ Closer comes the screaming knife/ This beautiful creature must die” reveal the extent of human brutality on animals (A-Z lyrics). In other words, The Smiths try to showcase that murdering creatures does not only perpetrate cruelty towards them but also expresses the shame that humans have when they lack the fail to care for them. Towards the end of the song, it is heartbreaking when the band sings the lyrics “NO, NO, NO, IT'S MURDER/ Who hears when animals cry?” (A-Z Lyrics). Arguably, many people particularly animal activists can relate to this song and note the emotional level that it presents.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) together with other animal activists would find the music to be impactful as it vehemently protests against the act of killing innocent animals for meat. The song is powerful and has a performance that delivers its message to the public. Furthermore, the theme calls on people to be vegetarians in order to stop the brutal killings. Meat is Murder is embedded with a strong message of making individuals understand that being a vegetarian has positive outcomes to the ecosystem as it helps to preserve animals. The theme centers on the idea that killing animals for meat violates their rights. The action is thus unjustifiable. Eating of meat is morally wrong. The action infringes the animals’ basic interests which include making free choices, being free from fear and pain (Young 6). The song Meat is murder raises an ethical question on how human beings choose to satisfy their needs at the expense of the animals’ life (Edmundson 16). Notably, every person should be a vegetarian as eating meat displays that animals are denied the opportunity to be alive.
Perhaps, a key question that The Smiths pose to the audience is how persons manage to take pride-eating meat yet they know that animals have the right to live. The question “Do you know how animals die?” that is found in the song is thoughtful and evokes one to imagine what the animals go through before dying (A-Z lyrics). The song goes ahead to say, “Kitchen aromas aren't very homely/ It's not "comforting," "cheery" or "kind"/ It's sizzling blood and the unholy stench Of MURDER” (A-Z Lyrics). The statements are straight to the point and are capable of changing the people's perception as well as the careless attitude that individual has towards animals. The Smiths also protests against scientists who majorly use animals in carrying out researchers. Whereas researchers are important in continuing knowledge, animal testing should be replaced with non-animal methods such as artificial insemination. Simply put, everyone has to believe that eating meat is a murderous act (Young 13). The Smiths alludes that the consumption of the defenseless creatures is undeniably a horrific and unwelcoming deed. According to The Smiths, if a person loves animals, then it does not make any sense to hurt them through slaughter for meat.
This song is indeed inspirational to legions of people, and it remains to be useful in the modern world. Activists such as PETA protests condemn everyone who eats meat. PETA in its recent demonstrations call for the ethical treatment of animals and hopes that every person will stop eating meat. Animals are being murdered every day and taken to butchers. As such, animal activists have become radical against the senseless killings (Mondak 27). The Smiths thus try to persuade individuals by saying that being a vegetarian does more good than harm to the world. Perhaps, the protest song has changed the eating habits of some people due to the powerful underlining message in opposing for the animal mistreatment and death as a social problem. In other words, eating meat evokes an ethical objection as it violates the right of the animal to live.
In every song, employing stylistic devices such as metaphor, symbolism, personification, and imagery is a key factor in communicating the underlining theme to the listener. These literary styles also make the music to be captivating as well as induce the audience to be thoughtful on what the singer is saying in the lyrics. In the song, Meat is Murder, a strong stylistic device that is evident is imagery. Arguably, the imagery used depicts to be a masterpiece that helps in informing the audience the intended message. The device has also made the music to be intriguing and thus enhanced the theme. The lines “The flesh you so fancifully fry/ The meat in your mouth/ As you savor the flavor/ Of murder” have imagery (A-Z lyrics). The picture of a person eating fried meat is built in mind and the singer emphasizes that this is murder. The device instills shock in the listeners and makes them to contemplate on how eating meat denotes animal slaughter. Disgust also emanates from the imagery as the figurative language has managed to embellish the song making it suitable for use in protests. Also the lines “and the calf that you carve with a smile/ Is MURDER/ And the turkey you festively slice/ Is MURDER” effectively create images. The pictures of curving the calf and slicing the turkey formed in mind attest to the theme. The mental pictures are created through words which help in illuminating the song’s usefulness. Many animals suffer from torture as humans eat meat as a universal principle. It is key to note that animals have feelings and therefore they are entitled to basic rights. Animal activists should push for a policy to ban meat consumption as this will aid in reducing animal killings and thus die from natural death.
There is no doubt that songs are fundamental in protests and help to bring about social changes. The paper analyzed the song Meat is Murder. The song protests against the killing of animals for meat purposes. Animal activist such as PETA finds the song to be highly applicable. The theme of the song is that people should be vegetarians and stop the killings as it does more harm to animals. For a long time, music has been used to protest against the acts of corruption, injustices perpetrated by the government along with many other social inequalities. Popular songs used in demonstrations started to display during the Vietnam War and ever since, many activists have embraced the use of songs in passing across their message to the public. Music has solely become a soundtrack in the society and manifest to be a fundamental factor in promoting peace in the community. Notably, the song Meat is murder mirrors the illegal act of animal killing and thus denotes to be effective for use by animal activists.
Edmundson, William A. "Do Animals Need Rights?" Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 23, no. 3, 2014, pp. 345-360.
Mondak, Jeffery J. "Protest Music as Political Persuasion." Popular Music and Society, vol. 12, no. 3, 1988, pp. 25-38.
Pettit, Rhonda. "Music and Protest in the African American Literature Course." Music and Politics, vol. 4, no. 2, 2010, University of Michigan Library, doi:10.3998/mp.9460447.0004.206.
The Smiths. “Meat is Murder.” A-Z Lyrics, 2018, www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/smiths/meatismurder.html. Accessed February 5, 2018.
Young, Thomas. "The Morality of Killing Animals: Four Arguments." Ethics and Animals, vol. 5, no. 4, 2011, Robert E. Kennedy Library, Cal Poly, doi:10.15368/ea.1984v5n4.1.
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