"Hero of War" by Rise Against

Checked Search bar for "Hero of War", "Rise Against", and "controversial songs" so here's hoping it's not already done. I also realize it is an older song but that doesn't mean we can't discuss, right?
Now with my disclaimer complete, I want to know what others think of this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DboMAghWcA

If you've listened to any of the songs from APPEAL TO REASON (2008), you would know that Rise Against is a little anti-war, but what about this song/video? I've read plenty of reviews on sites like itunes and Amazon, some people bashing it as anti-soldier, some arguing that it is the complete opposite and very respectful.

This song could be about the horrors that soldiers have to go through for their country, that they are willing to sign up for because it has to be done (pro-soldier stance). On the other hand, the song paints a very dark picture for evils soldiers have been ordered to do for their country (anti-soldier). Or you have the middle ground, it shows that war is not always black and white, showing both sides of war and the toll it can take on soldiers (gray-soldier)

Personally, I love this song. I have friends in the military and I myself attempted to join (couldn't due to medical reasons, but anyway) and I really like how gray the song is. I think it shows the horrors that soldiers sign up for but in a way that does not blame the soldiers. Towards the end, the soldier is obviously very distraught over what he had done, but the fact is that he did the actions and has to live with that.

My question up for discussion:
This song specifically, is it pro-soldier, anti-soldier, or is it gray?

Should bands who have never been in a war-type situation write songs like this (not a freedom of expression question, just wondering if you think it's "right" for them to)?

like their music, hate their anarchist lyrics.

I love the song, but it bothers me that they feel they have the right to say what they say. No one in that band was EVER involved in any sort of war.

T3h Merc:
I love the song, but it bothers me that they feel they have the right to say what they say. No one in that band was EVER involved in any sort of war.

This was the only thing that really bothered me about the song. Maybe I couldn't find the data, but from what I've seen on their Bio, no members of Rise Against have been in any branch of the military, let alone have seen any action.

EDIT: I should clarify that I don't think it's wrong that they did the song w/o military experience. I just wonder if they would change anything with the song or video if any members had actually been there.

Personally i think this is a great song, lyrically it is wonderful, unlike many songs, it is genuinely thought provoking and deals with important issues. In a way i believe it is grey, they appear to lament the ignorance of popular opinion in regards to a soldier's job, ie, 'medals and scars, is that all they see?' This could be construed more as anti prospective soldier than the soldiers themselves. The song also sympathizes with the soldiers for the hardships and trials which they must undergo.

My favourite thing about the song is how it concedes the effectiveness of war as a tool for personal/national security. You may have already realised, but the statement about the white flag gathering dust in his own home infers that he never had to use that white flag of surrender, probably because all their enemies have been crushed into the poverty from whence they came..

Also, it doesnt really bother me that Rise Against can comment on issues such as war etc. They probably have the opinions of other to judge it by along with their own reason. I mean, all of us have never had experience writing a professional song, yet we still thing it's 'right' to comment on theirs..

Controversy generally means its a good song because it is thought provoking and challanges what people believe.

CognitiveDissonance:

*I removed some quote to keep it shorter and had only the part I'm commenting on*

My favourite thing about the song is how it concedes the effectiveness of war as a tool for personal/national security. You may have already realised, but the statement about the white flag gathering dust in his own home infers that he never had to use that white flag of surrender, probably because all their enemies have been crushed into the poverty from whence they came..

That's actually a different take than what I had (isn't discussing great!). I thought that he was referring to the American Flag, which he mentions during each chorus. The fact that he was allowing the American Flag sit home and gather dust to me implied that he was ashamed of what he had done, allowing the flag to sit rather than fly or display it.

If he is referring to the white flag in the last chorus, that changes a big part of the meaning that I was gaining from the song. If it is the white flag, it'd be completely opposite of my interpretation, it'd be what you stated.

It's definitely anti war. Anti soldier? Not really. It doesn't really paint it out like soldiers are bad people, just that sometimes they find themselves in positions where they're forced to do bad things.

Here's the thing, Rise Against knows retrospectively very little about war. I won't claim to be an expert, but really the only thing the media does is show war victories and expose war atrocities. Victories are viewed generally as the more fictitious/Hollywood substance, and rightly so, but in such the atrocities become viewed as "that's what war REALLY is" which is also untrue. I know two people who have come back from Iraq and seem relatively unphased by it. They'll even talk about it from time to time like "this was so fucking awesome we kicked ass and shit!" I'm not saying that war should be some lightly taken subject matter, just that it's not all "let's kill innocent civilians and children!" Though obviously everyone's experience is going to be different.

In this aspect the best analogy for this is "Red Asphalt." Yes, car accidents are bad, sometimes even horribly disgusting, but most of the time the result is that your bumper gets bent or you get whiplash and your back hurts for a couple of weeks, which is bad, but it's very little in retrospect of total annihilation of your vehicle accompanied by violent decapitations.

I think its a gray area.

Guitarmasterx7:

Here's the thing, Rise Against knows retrospectively very little about war. I won't claim to be an expert, but really the only thing the media does is show war victories and expose war atrocities. Victories are viewed generally as the more fictitious/Hollywood substance, and rightly so, but in such the atrocities become viewed as "that's what war REALLY is" which is also untrue. I know two people who have come back from Iraq and seem relatively unphased by it. They'll even talk about it from time to time like "this was so fucking awesome we kicked ass and shit!" I'm not saying that war should be some lightly taken subject matter, just that it's not all "let's kill innocent civilians and children!" Though obviously everyone's experience is going to be different.

So that goes back to question 2, is it OK for bands like this (inexperienced in the subject matter they are singing about) to sing about "hot button" topics? Are songs like this exploitative in their controversy?

T3h Merc:
I love the song, but it bothers me that they feel they have the right to say what they say. No one in that band was EVER involved in any sort of war.

Do they not? Are we not allowed to speak out minds anymore? When did this happen?

Also, bad band.

That's a good point tippy, the meaning is relatively ambiguous, perhaps it was intended to have a dual meaning. Whilst their anti-war propoganda in the form of a song is highly exploitative, what isnt in current media, if we shunned exploitative songs etc.. we'd be running out of listening materials in no time.

Whilst they know little of war from first hand experience, they seem to present a good point. We are all sitting here commenting on it and how yes a soldier has to do these things and agreeing with many of their points, despite the fact that most of us have no wartime experience. In an instance like this, its up to us to use our capacity for reason to sift through the hyperbole to find the kernel of truth.

I cannot for the life of me remember where I read it about the song but the song is not just about every other average Soldier it was the effects that someone went through that they had connections with

I've been in the U.S. Army for a few years now, so I'll give my view.

Bam, Bam First Amendment.

It's his right to sing his little song about whatever he wants either true or false. Hell, I actually like the song at first. Then about two minutes in, I had to double take on what he was singing about. I guess I don't remember being trained to torture people or ever getting the opportunity. But hey, he probably knows best.

Wouldn't it be a little hypocritical for them to protest the war if they had previously signed up and fought in it? It isn't in any way wrong for a band to have lyrics reflecting wars they've never had any direct involvment in. While I have next to no respect for rise against, I don't think they've done anything in any way dishonourable with this song.

personally, I think that this song is about a young man who gets convinced to join the army by a recruiter who fills him with ideas of heroism, glory, and seeing the world. He sees himself as a patriot, who will die for his flag, the American Flag. He joins the army and presumably gets sent to Afghanistan, where he starts experiencing this horrible side to war that he was completely unaware of.

Starting off with the torture of the prisoner, which he was reluctant to do, but peer pressure convinced him to take part in it. Then he is forced to shoot the woman because she was approaching after they told her to stop. He couldn't risk her being a suicide bomber so he has to shoot her. It turns out that she wanted to surrender/was peaceful (white flag) and that he had killed an innocent woman. This destroys his feeling of heroism, and he returns home haunted by the things he had done. His family and friends view him as a hero for fighting in the war, but he doesn't feel like a hero.

He brings home the womans white flag, not the american flag, symbolising his shift in ideology. His view of the war is completely changed and he now wants peace instead of war.

Couple of things to re-add to the discussion

First, in my original question, I am not saying that they should or shouldn't in respect to freedom of speech, I am asking if it is right (morally, not 1st amendment) for them to sing about something they have no real idea about (which I've said earlier that I had no problem with but some are attacking others in the forum about it)

Second, I found this video from Rolling Stone.

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/28321709/rise_against_on_the_power_and_pitfalls_of_political_punk/1#

The article has nothing about it, so watch the "making of video" part for the information.

If you don't feel like watching the video, Rise Against states that their "Father's Best Friend/Cousin" had a bad experience but the song itself was not about that. They state they made the song/video because that's what they state is going on over there.

So no (or minimal) personal history I suppose is the bottom line

It's better than the latest crap some generic pop band is crapping out. I like songs that have more meaning. If it's controversial or makes you angry, then it's working. I don't think they write songs thinking "god I hope everyone likes this".

lotr rocks 0:
personally, I think that this song is about a young man who gets convinced to join the army by a recruiter who fills him with ideas of heroism, glory, and seeing the world. He sees himself as a patriot, who will die for his flag, the American Flag. He joins the army and presumably gets sent to Afghanistan, where he starts experiencing this horrible side to war that he was completely unaware of.

Starting off with the torture of the prisoner, which he was reluctant to do, but peer pressure convinced him to take part in it. Then he is forced to shoot the woman because she was approaching after they told her to stop. He couldn't risk her being a suicide bomber so he has to shoot her. It turns out that she wanted to surrender/was peaceful (white flag) and that he had killed an innocent woman. This destroys his feeling of heroism, and he returns home haunted by the things he had done. His family and friends view him as a hero for fighting in the war, but he doesn't feel like a hero.

He brings home the womans white flag, not the american flag, symbolising his shift in ideology. His view of the war is completely changed and he now wants peace instead of war.

Figured I'd quote everything of yours since that is almost word for word how I felt about the song. I didn't even realize this, but CognitiveDissonance (see talk from earlier) and yourself are correct. I listened and fast forwarded to that ending, he specifies that he brought the white flag home.

Dys:
Wouldn't it be a little hypocritical for them to protest the war if they had previously signed up and fought in it? It isn't in any way wrong for a band to have lyrics reflecting wars they've never had any direct involvment in. While I have next to no respect for rise against, I don't think they've done anything in any way dishonourable with this song.

I don't think it'd be hypocritical, we've got groups like "Soldiers against Iraq" that have formed in the war's aftermath.

tippy2k2:

Dys:
Wouldn't it be a little hypocritical for them to protest the war if they had previously signed up and fought in it? It isn't in any way wrong for a band to have lyrics reflecting wars they've never had any direct involvment in. While I have next to no respect for rise against, I don't think they've done anything in any way dishonourable with this song.

I don't think it'd be hypocritical, we've got groups like "Soldiers against Iraq" that have formed in the war's aftermath.

I suppose it wouldn't necissarily be hypocritical, but in the case of rise against (they are the ones preaching all that straight edge stuff, right?) it would be. They've been around for a few years all the while contesting most conflict. The kind of band they are is naturally aligned against any war, being a grunt contradicts the whole "stick it to the man" mentality.

 

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