Modern rock radio serves a very specific function at Guantanamo Bay Naval Camp and prison camp: Musical Torture. Actually, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, and Drowing Pool are not the only styles used to wear down inmates at Gitmo; Sesame Street songs and Eminem are “worked on people…day and night… Plenty lost their minds,” said former inmate, Binyam Mohammed.
AP reports former prisoners are no longer the only people protesting the use of loud music for intimidation and possibly torture at the camp; the bands are hearing accounts of their music being used to inflict pain and are speaking out.
Songwriter for Sesame Street, Christopher Cerf, was “horrified” at the news his songs were being used in this manner. He told AP, “I wouldn’t want my music to be a party to that.”
Bob Singleton wrote Barney’s popular children’s song “I Love You” and commented on the reported use of musical repetition for torture: “It’s absolutely ludicrous,” he wrote to the LA Times. “A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?”
The goth rock band Drowing Pool seems to be split on the band’s Gitmo favorite, “Bodies.” When bassist Steve Benton was asked about the controversy, he told Spin Magazine, “People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down.” I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.”
The band’s record label immediately followed up with a less divisive response: “Drowning Pool is committed to supporting the lives and rights of our troops stationed around the world.”
This whole debate is either a stark reminder of the power of music in society for good and potentially evil, or it just shows the power of a broken record.
There’s more info, including quotes from FBI agents and more inmates, here.