Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Looking for Significance

In case you do not recognize this fellow, he is Neil Young, Canada's most famous aging 'Rocker'. I have always been a fan of his music 
 and have, with difficulty, managed to separate his musical and lyrical talent from his person. We all have people in our lives that we admire, either for their character, their contribution, their personality, or their talents. Because no person is a complete package, we often tend to overlook the bad and appreciate the good. So it is for me with Neil Young.
He is in the news in a big way since his public stand, on Sunday, against the Athabasca Oil Sands.
Endorsements by very public figures work in the advertising industry. That is why celebrities and sports icons get paid the big dollars for doing ads for various products. That is also why many will be influenced by Young's acid comments against our government and the oil industry in Canada.  
When celebrities jump on some bandwagon, we can expect hyperbole and we get it from Young in spades. "The tar sands are worse than Hiroshima" and "the Harper government has no integrity" are comments that are over the top but do get attention.
Why would Young, a famous and rich musician who was born in Canada but had not lived here for the last 43 years suddenly show up on our doorstep and get involved in a Canadian issue when there are so many grievous issues in the USA that he could address?
He is not getting any younger and as a man ages, and has accomplished some personal goals, he begins to look for significance as he realizes his life in its fading years. As a secular humanist, and I have no evidence to suggest that he is not one, he is probably trying to do something of enduring value before he dies. He believes that this is an issue that is important and has taken the side that opposes it. I will not get into that debate, but rather simply suggest that he probably would like to see the oil sands shut down and then die knowing he had a significant hand in helping that to come about.
I strongly disagree with him, but will still enjoy his music.   


Gladys Cortez said...

Not being familiar with the issue in question, I can't say yet whether I agree or disagree with Neil Young; however, I have a pretty strong opinion that "celebs" (that word, as well as the concept it embodies, gives me a large, itchy rash!) should stay out of political discourse. Why on Earth should care more about what Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Penn, Jay-Z, or any of the rest of them have to say about foreign relations (Dennis Freaking Rodman, anyone?) or social issues outside the boundaries of their art, simply because they have achieved some fame in their chosen field....They're often woefully uninformed, head-shakingly overdramatic, and generally tone-deaf to questions such as what you raised about NYoung--why, again, is he speaking on Canadian issues when he's barely been there in decades? Except, of course, that an issue is an issue no matter what border it's across...energy sustainability is an important topic whether it's being talked about in Canada, in the US, in Africa...

Anyway, this is my first stop by your blog and it looks pretty interesting. :)

Terry said...

I strongly agree with what you are saying. The oil sands issue in Canada is huge because of its sheer size and economic significance. I have spoken to the issue in other posts. Neil young does not need a job, does not need to travel in fossil fuel vehicles, and does not need a pension from the Canadian government when he retires. For the rest of us who do, it matters significantly. I suppose he would sooner have Middle East oil coming to N. America so the rich Arabs can drive their gold plated Benzes.