Another story from the Metro. On Monday they reported that Britney Spears recordings are being used as a weapon to scare off Somali pirates. Merchant navy officer Rachel Owens, who works on supertankers operating off the east coast of Africa, is reported as saying, ‘these guys can’t stand Western culture or music . . . as soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can’.
I’m intrigued by these tales of musical counter-terrorism: elsewhere it has been reported that Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ has been used as a form of torture in Gauntanamo Bay, while Transport for London regularly uses classical music to ward of loitering kids at its more ‘urban’ underground stations. Whose taste is really being exposed here: the terrorists or those who are trying to combat them? Owens appears to be as anti-Britney as she is anti-Somali pirate, and elsewhere in the Metro article Steven Jones of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry is quoted as saying ‘I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention’. Surely it is the relentlessness and loudness of the musical exposure, as much as it is the artist in question, that is the cause of annoyance to the victim. And so are the DJs of these tracks just having some harmless fun, or are we witnessing the terror of cultural capital in action?