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The Politics of Desert Trip

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Roger Waters’ attacks on Donald Trump

Over the course of Columbus Day Weekend, I had the privilege of traveling to Indio, California to experience Desert Trip. Put on by Coachella, and dubbed “Old-Chella”, Desert Trip was a three- day rock festival headlined by classic rock legends. The lineup included Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Who and Roger Waters. It was not until Waters took the stage on the final night that the show took a political turn.

While Waters has been noted for his incorporation of his political views in his recent tour of The Wall, this time he chose to take things a step further. He began by expressing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement during his performance of “Us and Them”. Following this, he took a more direct approach and began singling out Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump.

In 1977, Pink Floyd, the band which Waters was once a driving member of, released their concept album Animals. The album was based primarily off George Orwell’s novel of the same name. One of the tracks on the album, “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”, specifically targets the powerful, greedy individuals Waters considers to be at the top of a criminal ladder. During the performance of this song at Desert Trip, the screen behind Waters illuminated with various images and quotes of Trump.

A portrait of Trump was shown with the word “charade”, taken from the song, written across his face. This was followed by Trump being portrayed in numerous embarrassing fashions, from Adolf Hitler to a member of the Klu-Klux-Klan. As the eleven minute song continued, countless infamous Trump quotes flashed before the audience’s eyes, including his most recent comments regarding women. While all of this was going on, an enormous, inflatable pig floated around the audience with the following quotes written on it: “lying, sexist, racist pig” and “**** Trump and his Wall”. At the epic conclusion of the song, the words “Trump Is A Pig” filled the screen and the audience roared.

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During the performance of “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”, Waters is known for having schoolchildren join him onstage for the chorus, wearing t-shirts that say “tear down the wall”. During the Desert Trip performance, the t-shirts read the same words, but in Spanish. This is insinuated as being another attack on Trump, and his wall he intends to build between the United States and Mexico.

Waters made his opinions on Trump clear, and did an extraordinary job incorporating current events and relatable themes to a set of classics. He also took the opportunity of playing at Desert Trip to share a poem he wrote, “Why Cannot the Good Prevail”, which was written after George W. Bush was re-elected. With Waters’ decision being evident, where do you stand come this presidential election?

And yet, is Roger Waters so innocent after all? He spent the majority of the end of the show expressing his support for the BDS movement and condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While this is only his opinion, many have come to view Waters as an anti-semite as a result of it. Where do you stand on the Israeli occupation of Palestine? How much weight does the political opinion of a celebrity or musician really hold? A followup article will be written soon regarding Adam Sandler’s response to Waters, and the background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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