Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pop and Politics

Media Moment: Get Up, Stand Up documentary on PBS
Queen Related: Queen featured throughout

I recorded this Bob Marley lyric-inspired documentary last night to see what musical events would be featured and, if I'm lucky, get to see some Queen. And I did.

With the exception of a few songs (notably from The Works), Queen steered clear of proselytizing through their music, although their global popularity surely guaranteed their participation in certain activist efforts.

Get Up, Stand Up is a comprehensive look at how music has been intertwined with political movements of all stripes. From turn-of-the-century labour strife songs to Woodstock to Bono trying to save the entire planet, the film covers a lot of territory in two hours and Queen makes an appearance quite a few times.

  1. The opening scene is a crowd/audience shot and there are obvious Queen banners being held up. I couldn't tell whether this was Live Aid or another Queen show.
  2. A few seconds after the opening scene, there’s a montage of other musical events and, first up, we see Freddie blowing a kiss to the crowd.
  3. At the half-way point in the show, there is a montage of what’s coming up in the second hour and there is a Freddie at Live Aid shot.
  4. When the time period gets to the mid-’80s, Live Aid is a featured event and the first musical act shown is Queen performing Radio Ga Ga. This song clip seems to go on for a few seconds longer than most of the other Live Aid performers that were included here.
  5. Moving on to the early ’90s, Freddie's Tribute Concert is highlighted and they show Tie Your Mother Down (with Joe & band), Liz Taylor's speech, and Bowie/Lennox doing Under Pressure.
  6. Just before the end credits roll, there’s a crowd shot with someone holding a Freddie "There Can Be Only One" banner.
  7. As a final bookend to the documentary, Freddie makes one last appearance after the end credits and just before the final sponsor thank-yous. Just a static shot of him to close the program.

What surprised me was where Queen did NOT make an appearance in this film—during the segment on Sun City and the apartheid protests in the early ’80s. While Little Steven was urging a boycott of South Africa, Queen was down there playing to an integrated audience—which ultimately got them blacklisted for a spell. I suppose they redeemed themselves in the world’s eyes during Live Aid and their repeated support of Nelson Mandela over the years.

To my surprise, who should appear in the end credits? The Torpedo Twins, Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher. That easily explains the Queen segments since they had all of those clips archived anyway. . . they just needed to get permission from Jim Beach, who they thanked in the credits as well.

I guess this is the documentary that’s been keeping them busy since going bankrupt the year before.


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