NEWS: Pop Music and the Occult?

Problems associated with racism have often been the result of ill-conceived notions about nation and divine favor. Moreover, consumers of popular music have often associated blues and rock ‘n’ roll with evil. Although the culture wars created public debates (and fears) which focused on perceived connections between pop music and the Devil, none came close to the so-called “satanic panic” of the 1980s, as concerned parents targeted heavy metal. Now, pop music icons are once again being cast as practitioners of the dark arts. But this time it’s personal. Ebony A. Utley, assistant professor of communication studies at California State University Long Beach, has noted that this tendency to demonize has implications linked to race, class, and gender. Indeed, U.S. history is filled with those who have misapplied the word “occult” in hopes of othering anyone who challenged white, male, heterosexual, patriarchal authority. And this is not particular to pop music. Social anxieties over what constitutes “threat” can be seen in conspiracy theories and groups such as the Tea Party, writes Utley. “Ostracizing undesirables (i.e. rich black men and independent, vocal women)” according to Utley, ” is not inconsistent with the Tea Party’s desire to take back our country. The important unspoken questions are: who are we and take back our country from whom?” Read the full article here.

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Luhr, E. (2010), Punk, Metal and American Religions. Religion Compass, 4: 443–451. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2010.00221.x

Gerber, L. (2010), Class and American Religion: Historic Deb, New Perspectives. Religion Compass, 4: 388–399. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2010.00220.x

Stowe, D. W. (2010), Both American and Global: Jazz and World Religions in the United States. Religion Compass, 4: 312–323. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00212.x

Neal, L. S. (2010), Intolerance and American Religious History. Religion Compass, 4: 114–123. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00192.x

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