R.E.M.

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The year is 1989. Ronald Reagan has just been succeeded as president of the United States by George H.W. Bush. There is a certain smell lingering in the air, a certain aura of change and tension. The Berlin Wall has been destroyed, and the Soviet Union’s communist grip is beginning to loosen. Television news stations report that Exxon Valdez has spilled millions of gallons of oil into the sea in Alaska, giving the water’s surface a slick shine. This is a potentially devastating disaster for the animals that call the area home. However, far away in Georgia, something else is happening. Thousands of people have gathered in an arena, all packed together in the dark. The suspense is building; something is going to happen soon. Suddenly, the flickering of a projector can be heard, and thousands of people gaze towards the stage. “Hello. Welcome to the show. We are the band R.E.M. (as you know). It is great to be back in (your city name here). Are you ready to rock and roll? Great. “It lingers for a few moments, then turns to black. A dark figure meanders to the front-center of the stage. A light flicks on, coming from behind the figure, creating a silhouette. Three others walk out, each picking up an instrument. One steps onto a large platform, sitting behind the drums. An orange light in the front turns on, slowly increasing in intensity. The figures, now lit, are easily identified. From left to right: Mike Mills (bass), Michael Stipe (voice), Peter Buck(guitar), and Bill Berry(drums). Stipe is wearing a white suit with black eye shadow, his eyes appearing as bottomless pits. He is holding a megaphone in his right hand, and he purposefully strides to the microphone. “This one goes out…to the Exxon corporation”, he declares, and the r... ... middle of paper ... ...ed a notable absence of guitars. In a conscious act of cultural resistance, Radiohead released the most anti-commercial album they possibly could. In 2006 Radiohead once again threw the music industry a curveball by releasing their album “In Rainbows” completely free of charge. In a cultural experiment, fans were asked to pay whatever they felt necessary for the album. Some paid twenty dollars, some paid nothing. R.E.M.’s small acts of cultural resistance have paved the way for other bands, like Radiohead, to do the same. Due to R.E.M.’s hard work and dedication, it is now possible for a band to be more than “just a band” and a singer to be more than “just a singer.” Works Cited "Subcultural Identity in Alternative Music Culture." Popular Music 23 (1993): 33-41. Print.Duncombe, Stephen. The Cultural Resistance Reader. `: Verso Books, 2002. Print.Kruse, Holly.

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