Sometimes the God of Rock and Roll works in mysterious ways. Consider Sunday afternoon —
It was hot in Los Angeles, and I was sitting around in my underwear, looking at different music videos on YouTube. By chance, I hit upon Starship’s “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.” I’ve always liked this song as a guilty pleasure. At the same time, it was sad to see that the former members of the great Jefferson Airplane falling so low. This 80’s music video had a self-importance to it, but I couldn’t figure out what was the “message,” if any. What City were they talking about? Was this a cry against corporate radio? Who were all these teenagers running from the huge rolling dice in Las Vegas? What was the symbolism behind the Lincoln of the Lincoln Memorial coming alive and singing the chorus, “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.” Was this song about Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, who created the plans for Washington D.C.? Abraham Lincoln was one of our finest presidents, but I doubt he would ever be about “rock and roll.” I decided to write a post about this video. I ran a contest.
The winner of this contest is the one who writes the best description of what the artists are trying to communicate in this music video.
As I expected, I received humorous comments from my readers. After all, many of you were the “class clowns” and “misfits” during high school. But the most intriguing comment came from someone who didn’t even watch the video. It was from Natalie, who writes the blog Tell Me About It. She lives in Turkey. The Turkey Turkey. Isn’t that interesting? I’m not exactly sure how this New Orleans girl ended up in Turkey, but I bet you that after drinking that Turkish coffee, she ain’t ever coming back to Starbucks.
Here was her comment concerning the music video:
— and once again i miss out because youtube is still banned in turkey. dadgum. i so wanted that prize!
“YouTube is banned in Turkey?!” I asked.
Fascinated, I Googled the subject to learn more. Apparently, this is not the first time Turkey banned YouTube.
According to the Huffington Post:
A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country’s founding father, according to reports Sunday.
It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death.
Some of the most offensive videos came from Greece, where the Turkish founding father was called “gay.” This was considered an insult to “Turkishness.”
Turkey is not alone in blocking YouTube. Last year, the Thai government banned the site for about four months because of clips seen as offensive to Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
And in May, Moroccans were unable to access YouTube after users posted videos critical of Morocco’s treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1975. An official blamed a technical glitch, but could not explain its nature or why it affected only the YouTube site.
Suddenly, the music video made complete sense to me. It wasn’t the “worst song ever recorded.” It was a political anthem about freedom. I even understood why Abraham Lincoln was singing along. No country — Turkey — included should be allowed to prevent her citizens from rocking and rolling, even if it is to really crappy 80’s songs! We as Americans must change the world and give everyone the chance to have big hair and giant dice… and make fun of their esteemed leaders. And we shouldn’t be doing it through WAR and BOMBINGS!
We should be doing it through the POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL.
Free the bad 80’s videos on YouTube!
Natalie — here are some ways to work around your government’s censorship (via boingboing)
C’mon, Americans — it’s time to take our message of free speech to Ankara, to Bangkok, to Rabat —
We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock and roll
C’mon, Mt. Zion High School Swingsations — let’s show the world what America is all about!