Music As A Form of Protest: How Music Culture Has Responded to 9/11 and The Cold War

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Do you want to know what is happening in the world? Turn the radio on. Take a look at street art. Yes, you can pick up a newspaper and read the headlines, but if you want to know how the communities are reacting to politics, war, sexism and racism, turn to art made for the people by the people. Artists and musicians have been responding and reacting to culture for as long as we can document it. One way that musicians react to culture is by creating songs in response to war. Patriotic country songs and anti-war Rock n Roll are something prevalent in culture, especially American culture. Anti-establishment folk punk and hip hop are still responding to 9/11, though 13 years ago. Some of the largest hits by the Beatles are songs about the Cold War. In this paper, I am going to discuss the differences between how music culture has responded to the Iraq War and The Cold War. We will consider how political changes have influenced the opinions of the communities and how those communities create music in response to those changes, as well as factor in social structures present.

Moreover, the War in Iraq has produced an array of music culture. With the technological advancements today, soldiers are not so disconnected from the world around them, more importantly from their lives back home. With access to the internet occasionally, friendships being built and musical instruments, they can not only make music, supporting the war but also share it with the world. This gives us a level of insight into the world of a solider that was never available to be seen before (Pieslak, 2009).

However, that cannot be said about all musical responses to the War in Iraq. Much can occur in an 11-month deployment, and the United States is going through an evident awakening where the population is becoming more and more aware of social and political issues that themselves and the others around them are struggling to overcome. With information spreading like wildfire, culture molds to these changes quickly and effectively, especially in terms of music. An example of these changes is Code Pink, a feminist movement that came into existence in early February of 2003 in response to the Bush Administration. Code Pink was the first of many feminist movements to revolve around anti-war ideals (Kutz-Flamenbaum, 2007).

Additionally, it has been suggested that American culture, music especially, has influenced other countries as a result of its numerous wars it has been accompanying in. In specific relation to the Cold War, it has been understood that when American military bases touched down in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, they provided these countries an urban musical culture that was not present before postwar America. Between 1495 and 1960, Japan has even gone through a “Period of Love/Hate towards America”, though you may say many countries have gone something similar. (Yoshimi)

Furthermore, with a similar influence made upon Europe after the cold war, the aftermath of that particular war resulted in more so of a rejection of urban influence. With clashing ideologies and lifestyles, Europe also did not take hold. Within this particular paper, I will further discuss how religion and class differences play a significant part in the lack of American influence after the Cold War. It is apparent that American culture in response to war has been negative everywhere, including right here at home (Carroll, 2003).


Carroll, M. (2003). Music and ideology in Cold War Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Kutz-Flamenbaum, R. V.(2007). Code Pink, Raging Grannies, and the Missile Dick Chicks: Feminist Performance Activism in the Contemporary Anti-War Movement. NWSA Journal 19(1), 89-105. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved March 1, 2014, from Project MUSE database.

Pieslak, J. R. (2009). Sound targets American soldiers and music in the Iraq war. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Yoshimi, S., & Buist, D. (2003). ‘America’ As Desire And Violence: Americanization In Postwar Japan And Asia During The Cold War. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 4(3), 433-450.