Friday, March 18, 2011

The 1967 "Down with the Electric Guitar" Movement in Brazil

In Brazil, a large group of pop artists and celebrities gathered in 1967 for a street protest against the "the destructive influence of electric guitars on Brazilian music." Electric guitars, some said, "symbolized Yankee imperialism."

Many among the protesters called and call themselves "progressives," and during the last decades some of them have actively supported members of the party in power in Brazil - a few have even occupied positions in the Brazilian government. Some have been implicated in scandals involving the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, which is under their political sphere of influence. Some have naturally amassed substantial fortunes.

It is interesting that they decided to leave the British out of this, and also that many of them were fans of artists like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. The latter would play the haunting electrified version of the American anthem at Woodstock only two years later.

The irony is that many of them used electric guitars in their songs not much later in their careers, recorded tropical versions of American music standards, played with American celebrities, and promptly accepted international prizes for their work (on the right, Gilberto Gil, who once served as Minister of Culture, and was also one of the main protesters against electric guitars as shown in the picture above, has some fun with the enemy).

The "down with the electric guitar" movement was backed by a Brazilian TV channel because it appeared to be good for its bottom line. All this a great example of how significant is the phenomenon of hypocritical posturing in politics and how politics is deeply entrenched in all other human affairs.

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