Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2007
Source: Appalachian, The (NC Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Appalachian State University
Author: Zachary M. Corsa


Indie rock has taken a lot of undue criticism these days.

Thanks to the genre's burgeoning popularity, due in part to 
television shows like "The OC" and movies like Zach Braff's "Garden 
State", music that's an alternative to empty-headed radio pop is 
making a comeback in the charts at last.

But with this comes the inevitable backlash.

"Scene kids" are often maligned and stereotyped for their so-called 
elitism, their fashion choices, and the obscurity of the music they listen to.

As an indie fan, this gets frustrating, but recently, anti-drug 
organization Above the Influence has probably committed the greatest 
atrocity against indie music and its fans yet.

A recent ad by the company featured a girl speaking of her recovery 
from marijuana abuse.

In conclusion she states, "Now I don't pretend to listen to indie 
rock or anything like that, and people think that's cool."

Whoa, wait a second.

Indie music has changed and enriched my life, made me a truly better 
person, and on many occasions offered me the kind of hope and comfort 
that meaningless popular drivel from MTV could never hope to do.

When I first heard this ad, courtesy of a story on Pitchfork, I was 
mortified; how dare a company like Above The Influence use its agenda 
to attack the kind of intelligent, wonderful music so many of us 
enjoy, and how dare they attempt to enforce such a negative 
stereotype by trying to link marijuana usage to a genre of MUSIC?

What is this, 1957?

This is unethical and slanderous, and infuriated me enough to write 
many letters of complaint to the company's website.

Where was the motivation for such an outrageous attack, I wondered?

Well, then I did some digging.

Above the Influence has many corporate partners, which means at least 
a portion of its funding comes from, you guessed it, big corporations.

Who are these corporations?

Through linking to the "corporate partners" page of, one discovers these "partners" include Cox 
Cable, Geico, United Airlines, Lycos, Liberty Mutual, Mitsubishi, 
Cellular One, AT&T Wireless and Capitol One.

So now comes the logical question: who are some of these companies linked to?

That's right, major record labels.

It would only be hypothesizing to say that these major labels used 
their corporate push to try to discourage music fans from buying 
through independent labels, and that they did so through the guise of 
an anti-drug ad to try to target young viewers, but doesn't it seem a 
bit suspicious?

Major labels are surely nervous at the growing trend of fans turning 
towards indie music and away from mainstream pop.

For one, indie musicians tend to reject the common major-label notion 
that you have to be attractive and shill corporate products in 
big-budget advertisements to be a successful musician.

Indie rock is harder to exploit, in other words.

Hypothesis or not, what better way to attack indie rock directly than 
to connect it in the public's mind with marijuana usage?

And really, who cares how unethical it is to use an anti-drug PSA 
aimed at kids to do it, even if you offend millions of members of the 
music-buying public?

It seems as if the days of Reefer Madness haven't died, after all.

Really. it's a shame Above the Influence didn't directly cite 
specific bands or labels; I would've loved to have seen them taken to 
court in a libel suit over their reckless and disgusting slandering 
of an entire genre of music and its fans.

Above The Influence should be ashamed of themselves for using cheap 
stereotypes to try to hurt fans of a specific type of music, and also 
of possibly being a stooge to boost corporate earnings in doing so.

To me, you stand for nothing as an anti-drug awareness company if the 
real motivation is malicious slander to encourage corporate gain.

In the end, Above the Influence may preach about saying no to drugs, 
but it's clear that all they're under the influence of is typical 
corporate greed.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman