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I just watched The Devil Came on Horseback last night, about the genocide going on in the Darfur region of Sudan.
If you don’t know anything about Darfur, read up on it here. Basically, the Arab-run government to the north is sponsoring a genocide against black Africans living in Darfur (located in the south-west of the country). The government has hired the Janjaweed (translated “the devil on horseback”), an Arabic militia force, to systematically wipe out the black Africans in Darfur. They burn people alive (even kids), set whole villages on fire, shoot their own countrymen indiscriminately, and use rape as a deliberate war tactic to destabilize families, bring shame to women, instigate fear and hatred, and spread STDs. What’s going on is sick and twisted beyond belief.
Since 2003, the Sudanese government has sponsored this genocide and killed possibly more than 400,000 people, all in an attempt to win a war against rebel groups that draw support among black Africans in the Darfur region. Rather than attack the armies like the rest of us do, they’ve decided to just wipe out everyone. Over 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes, many living in massive refugee camps in Chad.
The movie The Devil Came on Horseback is really well made. It follows marine captain Brian Steidle, stationed in the region as a military observer. Brian takes photos, interviews rebel soldiers, talks to Janjaweed militiamen, hears from the victims of genocide, and videos whatever he can get. The documentary pulls it all together into a nice hour and a half package. The great thing about it is that Brian isn’t some annoying, liberal, hippy pot-smoking college student jumping on the latest humanitarian bandwagon. He’s a marine, and he’s seen injustice and wants America do something about it. It gives him a lot of credibility that guys like Michael Moore don’t have.
Somewhere inside me is a bleeding-heart activist that likes to call attention to the latest international issue that needs our assistance, but I get tired of all the whiny neo-hippies just hopping on liberal bandwagons. Broad generalization, true, but I’m sure you get what I mean. Anyway, the movie is great because it’s nice to see a military guy calling attention to something like this. I feel like I can trust him.
So, moving on, watching this movie has once again caused me to think about how shallow my blog is. I give away (some might say “illegally distribute”) MP3s. I promote bands. I interview artists. I write about deep issues like “Defining Christian Muisc.” All while 400,000 people have been killed and countless women raped in a brutal genocide in Sudan.
So, to ease my aching conscience, I signed the petition here to get Bush and the UN to stop the genocide. Now who’s shallow?
Useful Sites and Links
SaveDarfur – learn about the genocide, sign a petition like me, or do something even more radical
Brian Steidle’s photos – see the photos he took while in Darfur
The Devil Came on Horseback – read up on the movie or watch the trailer
Invisible Children – some guys went to Sudan to document genocide but ended up in Uganda to document something just as creepy
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be honest as I look at bands to post about. I make it easier on myself by usually only posting about bands that I think are really great, but once in a while I offer to write about a band or artist that I’m not entirely sold on, that may be perfect for somebody but not really what I’m into.
Sometimes, I’ll gloss over the things that I don’t like. I’ll write about the positive things in the band and just ignore the stuff that bothers me. But, other times, I just gotta let it all out and be up front about what’s good and what’s bad, honesty to the point of brutality.
There are few groups that I’ve put up here that I can say I like without question or qualification. Doug Burr, mewithoutYou, and Ponoka are three that come to mind. I love those bands, hands down. Maybe a year from now, I’ll have qualifications for them, but right now, they’re some of the most perfect bands ever.
Back here, I wrote an honest critique of a band (Hello Kelly) that I don’t care much for. I wanted to be honest in the fact that I think they’re good at what they do, and if you like that style of music, then you might like them, but I thought they were a little cheesy, a little boring, and pretty similar to what’s popular now. Apparently, some people got annoyed that I gave my honest opinion (on my blog).
This got me thinking. I’ve never read a negative review of Christian music from any Christian publication. I don’t mean that as hyperbole either. I seriously can’t remember ever reading one. Secular reviews slam albums all the time, but Christian reviews are always positive and happy. If they don’t like the music, they just keep their mouths shout.
This is dumb. Reviews should be critical and offer the positives and the negatives, the strengths and the weaknesses. If all the music reviews are positive, then they cease to mean anything.
This is why I will always strive to be honest in my reviews. It may annoy you to see your band get picked apart on The Blah Blah, but I’ll try not to just rip you to shreds mercilessly, even if you deserve it. 😉 I’ll try to be nice as I talk about what isn’t so great on your album. I really do tend to think that even bands I don’t like have redeeming qualities, so you’ll probably be safe.
Yet, I don’t want to turn into a blog where I’m afraid to say a band is a little depressing, a little boring, lacking creativity, or spiritually empty. I want to stay honest about what I think, even if it offends you. If you don’t want to hear what I think, then you don’t need to send me your music or read my blog.
Man, this blog takes way too much time. Especially when it’s nice outside.
I get way too many e-mails from people wanting me to check out this band or that band. I have way too much music to listen to. I have way too many interviews I’ve been hoping to write. I have way too many MySpace pages to visit. I have way too many articles I want to write.
And I definitely don’t have enough time for it all anymore. It’s nice outside now (most days). I’ve been busier at church. I’ve got more freelancing work to do. I’ve started exercising again (more than just my fingers on the keyboard anyway). I’ve been reading more. And I’ve been getting excited about meeting with God faithfully again. All of which are good things.
So, yeah, I just wanna whine about how busy it is. I wish I could spend 40 hours a week (or more) just on The Blah Blah. I’d love it. But since I can’t, I’ll just keep plodding along as fast as I can.
Don’t stop sending me music suggestions or MySpace pages to check out or cool books to read. As long as you don’t mind me not responding to your e-mails in a timely manner or posting about every band you send my way, I’d rather have too much come in than nothing at all.
I love doing this blog. I love getting new music, interviewing artists, giving away MP3s, promoting new bands, researching musicians, and writing my thoughts on music and the music industry… but, man, I want more time to do it.
I schedule most of my blog posts in advance for a week or two at The Blah Blah. Partly because I have a minor case of OCD and partly because it just makes my life easier so I don’t have to think at 6 in the morning.
I have a name I assigned to my Thursday posts, to help me figure out what sort of post would work well. After doing the Defining Christian Music series, I thought it would be fun to devote my Thursday posts to rants and random thoughts somehow related to music, where I can share a little bit about what I’m thinking and a little less about the facts. So I call it “Opinion Thursday.”
Being “Opinion Thursday,” don’t expect this post to be well-researched or thoroughly-investigated. These are my opinions (except for the Bible verses I’ll include), so I’m probably wrong on a few things, especially where I generalize.