Serj Tankian, otherwise lead singer of the fantastic System of a Down (no strangers to anti-war videos themselves), released a video last month for his solo single “Empty Walls” that really deserves watching if you haven’t seen it already. The whole thing is good, but the ending especially is a zinger:
Don’t waste your time
on coffins today
The video was released on September 11, but has recently picked up enough steam to score rotation on MTV, which is how I first saw it (albeit late at night, when MTV’s not showing one of its million non-music shows).
If you’re not familiar with System of a Down, they’ve been refreshingly outspoken activists for years, and not just on the war issue. All the band members are descended from survivors of the Armenian genocide, so their connection to issues of social justice and human rights is not only ideological but personal.
Given the generally negative attitude that people have towards my generation’s dearth of protest music, you might be surprised to learn that SOAD’s albums debut at the top of the rock charts (Mesmerize debuted at #1 in 12 countries), and the five-time Grammy nominated group scored their biggest success with their baldest anti-war statement to date, “B.Y.O.B.”:
You depend on our protection,
Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth.
As if that weren’t enough, Tankian cofounded (with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine) a nonprofit activism group called Axis of Justice. Here’s their straightforward mission statement:
We aim to build a bridge between fans of music around the world and local political organizations to effectively organize around issues of peace, human rights, and economic justice.
At any rate, I hope you enjoy. SOAD’s idiosyncratic style is one of the reasons they’ve had less mainstream success (which is fine by me: I love their music), so I understand if they’re not to everyone’s taste. But at least know that there are bands plugging away the message to thousands upon thousands of devoted followers, and it’s being heard.