Frank Zappa’s and Tipper Gore’s Foxtrot

I was thinking recently about how most successful people are particularly good at marketing. Among others I thought of Frank Zappa. Right away with Zappa I thought of his highly publicized duel with Tippore Gore and her campaign to label music with explicit lyrics. I like Zappa as much as I like most any rock musician. I still listen to two or three of his albums. At first blush he seems the last person to label a marketing maven. He hated hippies, brought humor into rock music, fired his band as soon as he got popular, and was generally anti-establishment. However, we could see this as the advanced branding of a “rebel.” The Gore/Zappa show strikes me as a great promotion of the Zappa brand. After all, if no one cared about explicit lyrics, if it had simply become a big yawn, then where was the relevance of the Zappa brand? Like a book banned in the UK, Zappa “rebellion” remains pertinent only as long it offends the establishment. Offending Tippor Gore was like a USDA seal of approval for his anti-establishment fans.   Otherwise he simply becomes an anachronism, a curiosity from the repressive past. So did he launch his campaign for purely marketing reasons? I doubt it. I suspect he felt strong about the issue, but like much of his personal promotion, he acted unconsciously on his own behalf. Like a good liar who has learned to pass a polygraph test, he just naturally allowed his ambition to lead him in a pragmatic yet largely unconscious manner. As to Tipper Gore’s intentions…

One thought on “Frank Zappa’s and Tipper Gore’s Foxtrot

  1. If an artist did actually pose a risk to the status quo they wouldn’t last long. Anti-establishment figures just add a bit of spice to the proceedings. The surface may change a little, but it’s business as usual behind the scenes. Artists find themselves playing a role in the drama. They still have to play by the ‘rules’ or they would find themselves marginalised, without a platform.
    The status quo seems a bit more shaky now with our new hyper connected world. Dominoes can topple pretty fast and there seems a lot of damage limitation going on. The odd ‘high-flyer’ here and there finds themselves sacrificed to the wolves performing the role of human firewall.

    Liked by 1 person

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