Generally, pop stars don’t frequent academic discussions. One cannot imagine Fatboy Slim or t.A.t.U at a political forum – and if this actually happened, I think we’d all scream and run for the rafters. However, no running or screaming occurred during Moby’s Campbell Hall discussion with Reinhold Heil. In fact, Moby appeared quite adept in many disciplines, conversing insightfully on wide-ranging matters such as right-wing strategy and artistic integrity.
Moby was clearly the dominant force in the discussion, as Heil, apart from several asides, preferred to play the role of the inquisitive journalist. Describing himself as a “nondenominational Christian,” Moby drew sharp distinctions between his personal theology and current political theology. “The president calls himself a Christian… yet he is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths,” he said. References were made to the “evil genius” of the Republican Party as well as “the mercenary way in which the right wing manipulates the media.”
This segued into a discussion of his new album, Hotel, on which the song “Lift Me Up” shows the conflict between “people threatened by the world as a complicated place, and people who aren’t.” Heil accentuated this and drew parallels between American and Middle Eastern “ethnocentrism.” However, both artists seemed not to view music as a political springboard. Moby remarked, “Although I tend to overanalyze and intellectualize everything else, music is an autonomic process.”
By far, the most entertaining part of the talk was the Q&A period, in which the two artists became prey to the vices and fixations of Santa Barbara County residents. Asked for recommendations on “sex records,” Heil quipped, “‘The Rite of Spring,’ by [Igor] Stravinsky.” There were numerous tech gear questions, and one girl asked, “Which swear word is your favorite?” A boy inquired into the definition of the word “fuck.” Given a chance to interview a leading musical thinker, we showed our true faces. We are, indeed, future leaders of tomorrow.