The list of things the EDL is associated with is pretty lengthy: inciting racial hatred, supporting capital punishment, commissioning hundreds of unimaginably bad tattoos of armoured knights etc. But pop culture is definitely not at the top of that list. You would think its members are too busy trying to take all the ray guns off of Muslims so Britain can be back British to bother keeping up with the Billboard 100, but that’s just one of those things we all tell ourselves to avoid the uncomfortable fact that the things we enjoy are also enjoyed by people we hate. Hitler had fine art, Putin has ice hockey and, as it turns out, members of the EDL post music videos on the group’s main and sub-divisional Facebook pages as a way of communicating #feelings about “the struggle” against Islam. I don’t imagine its collective music taste will ever come to be something the EDL is known for, but the quiet, almost secret exchange of media within these pages is as revealing as it is weird. We like to imagine that people involved with hate groups spend all their time crammed into smoke-filled rooms debating what to petrol bomb next, not listening to Northern Soul and hugging. It just doesn’t sit well.
The EDL Loves Katy Perry
In many ways, anything that comes under the words “popular” and/or “culture” seems like it would be the last thing to be connected with an organisation that is the absolute antithesis of both. Nevertheless, in this world of everything for everybody, music is (unfortunately) up for grabs as another populist costume for right wing politics to dress up in and pretend it has things in common with other human beings.
Unsurprisingly, political organisations tend to make a habit of using ill-fitting songs within their promotional campaigns in an effort to “connect” with people – namely the young ones, who are super important in terms of the electoral vote but don’t care about anything so need to be coaxed in by stuff with hashtag status. Team Obama did a half-decent job of it when they used “Fake Empire” during the 2008 presidential campaign, proving once and for all that there is something more boring than politics and that something is The National.
The EDL appears to be toying with a similar formula to hilariously misguided ends despite the fact that they are their only audience (excluding the occasional midnight anthropologist such as myself). Last summer they royally pissed off the Manic Street Preachers by using“If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” on one of their rally videos. I guess that song’s explicitly anti-fascist content escaped them and in turn says a lot about their sense of perspective. It is, without a doubt, the worst misappropriation of a pop song since that time Ronald Reagan didn’t get “Born in the U.S.A”, but it’s certainly not alone in its absurdity.
I spent some time lurking a variety of the organisation’s Facebook pages, curious to know what its members identified with.
Click here to read the rest of the article and find out what’s on the playlist at Club EDL lately.