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Kele Okereke slams Jack White's politics

Via: NME
Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke doesn't think too kindly of White Stripes/Raconteurs frontman Jack White. Speaking to the NME, Okereke said that White was shirking his responsibility to speak out on public matters:
"I was amazed when Jack White said it wasn't his job to be critical about foreign policy because he was being paid to be an entertainer. I thought that was treacherous because it's complicit with the capitalist society.
"Selling more records is the only thing that's important to him not provoking debate."
Harsh words. While I can certainly empathize with Okereke's view that entertainers have a platform to speak out on important issues, I hardly find it "treacherous" or purely capitalistic to decide you don't want to air out your politics in public. What's everyone else think? Is there an inherent responsibility as an entertainer to try and make the wolrd a better place? Leave some comments below.
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Bloc Party
The White Stripes

I agree with your assessment Justin. Like Charles Barkley once said, "I am not a role model." These words can be interpreted in many different ways, but the way I took them was that he was being paid to entertain people and he didn't feel a responsibility to a broader public. Although we put musicians (and athletes) on pedestals, some wish to remain private in some matters, however miniscule those matters may be. I respect White's decision not to air out his political standings, and Okereke was out of line to use the words he did.


When/how did Jack White make this declarative "no comment"?It seems a lot of entertainers voice the same bland comments about foreign policy, it's probably just as well Jack White doesn't give us his thoughts.What are Okereke's profound opinions re: foreign policy?

Eric Fitzgerald

Freedom of expression means that you can say or not say what you like about the government or political world. Of course, this applies to both Kele and Jack. Whether an entertainer has a responsibility to voice his opinion is something different. First, there's nothing about an entertainer that guarantees what he has to say is worth hearing. Tune in to the hundreds of talking heads daily and that much is revealed. While this doesn't apply to Jack White, keep in mind that many entertainers are on the bottom rung of intelligence. Second, perhaps Kele is referring to Jack's position of having a platform to speak from, rather than merely being an entertainer. Even if that is the case, Jack has a right not to speak from that platform. On a personal level, I feel that there is dignity in Jack's refusal to jump on the bandwagon of politics. Jack is a true artist - whatever message he has is conveyed through his artistry. It seems that Kele is kicking against the pricks. His band would do well to open for The Raconteurs or The White Stripes.


Maybe Jack White likes capitalism. Thats a poltical stance.


I didn't hear the actual jack white quote, but I think it's one thing to feel that way and an entirely other thing to say it, because when you don't speak up you are merely deciding that it is not your place but when you make a statement you are criticizing your fellow musicians who do choose to speak up.

Matthew Gasteier

That's big talk from a guy whose band just put out a totally commercial album aimed at the US mainstream charts. Making money off suburban kids in the mall is not capitalistic? He should concentrate on writing something besides bad TV on the Radio rip-offs (who suck just as much now), and making banal political comments while promoting his new commercial album.


Problem is your poltics paints your art for you. It ends up becoming a vehical for your poltical agenda whether the intent is there or no.Just like now I listen to Bloc Party and think it's a vehical for douchebaggery.


The question is if anyone really wants to hear Jack White's views about the world. I prefer him covering old blues songs and being confused about his relationship with Meg. Not every rock star has to be Bono for fuck's sake.

John Zeiss

Times like this when I ask myself .. 'What would Bono and Billie do?" ... I think it's about time for Jack to put on some eyeliner and take a political stance ...


I agree with John. Odds are I could give a rat's ass what Jack White has to say about foreign policy matters. Hell, I could give a rat's ass what dude from Bloc Party has to say. Do some musicians have good political sense and are worth listening to? Sure. But I'd rather listen to Chomsky, Zinn and others than some dude in a dance punk band or whatever. It's good to be proactive and get the word out if you can but by being a pop-star it doesn't make it some prerequisite. Would dude from Bloc Party feel the same way if Jack White was a total Conservative? Probably not. Plus, since dude said the word "treacherous" it is a little hard to take him seriously. And in the end, sometimes you just want certain rock stars to shut the fuck up. Like Bono. Or King Bono or whatever the hell his name is now. When he actually DOES something will someone let me know? Thanks.

Josh H.

I kinda agree with John. I'm not so sure I need to hear everyone's opinion on politics. If White was asked about it during an interview, and that was his response, I think that's a totally fair answer. Maybe he's just a self-deprecating guy and figures, "Who could possibly care what I think about that? Let's talk about my record."These days, I'd rather hear Bloc Party talk about politics because that new record is dreadful.

Mike Krolak

So, can we all agree then, that the new Bloc Party is a piece of garbage?

Justin Sheppard


Jason the Former

hear, hear!


"Tonight, make me unstoppable." - Kele OkerekeA lyrical excerpt from the new Bloc Party album.


i heard adrian covert actually ghostwrote that one.


low blow.

Adrian Covert

that might have been the meanest thing i've ever said to anyone in my life. you certainly did not deserve that...i apologize.

Mike Krolak

[...] Somebody’s mommy never told him not to open his mouth if he didn’t have anything nice to say. In the same week Bloc Party frontman Kele Okerke ragged on Jack White for being too apolitical, he said, “I’m finding it hard to believe that singers in other bands have a mind” in an interview with MTV. [...]

» Kele Okerke opens his increasingly ridicul

Maybe Kele should be taking this time to express HIS opinion on foreign policy rather than ragging on Jack White. Or maybe HE could provoke some debate rather than some much-needed media attention. Besides, I think Jack White's decision to entertain before expressing his political views is certainly the right thing to do. In fact, maybe Kele could even follow in Jack White's footsteps. Then maybe, with lots and lots of practice, Kele could be good enough to tune Jack White's guitar before he gets on stage. ;) Just maybe.


[...] Kele has admonished Jack White for his his lack of political, attempted to assault a member of Art Brut, and claimed that he’s not sure singers in other band ‘have minds’ (the Artic Monkey’s being the exception, WHAT?!).  A little petulant?  Sure.  A lot presumtuous?  Probably.  But at least the guy is saying something.  In a musical counter-culture that seems to be dominated by apathy, where people are rewarded for making asses of themselves on camera, at least someone is saying something other than ‘like my new fashion mullet?  It’s totally hideous, I love it.’  Don’t like what he has to say?  Think he’s a total ass?  You may be right, and so much the better, cause now at least there’s the beginnings of another intellectual exchange.  [...]

TK Accidental - A Weekday in the City

I happen to know that Jack White actually leans to the Bushites foreign policy. He also has enough sense to keep his thought to himself. Good friend of mine was the sound tech when helped Lorretta Lynn on her new CD and said that Jack is extremely intelligent and very conservative. It would make sense for him not to speak out because he knows the possible backlash, plus I am told he has become pretty humble in recent years and probably feels like its not his place to tell you and me what we need to know about US Foreign Policy. I respect his answer.


Jack White is just trying to friggin do his job. Why should he be expected to comment on anything?


White is fairly conservative in some aspects but certainly not in all. He's a devout Catholic who is more concerned with the effect of broad decisions on human lives, something lost on all ends of the American political debate. He's also one of the best examples of male feminism in the music industry, save the members of Fugazi. Many of his lyrics are blatantly political, from the first album onward, but they tend to be so subtle (with the exception of "Icky Thump" and "The Big Three Killed My Baby") that their meanings fly over people's heads.Luckily we all recognize Bloc Party as the tossers they are, so let's continue celebrating the excellent music of artists like White, shall we?


I agree with Kele considerably, as I believe that individuals in their situation should use there popularity in order to set good examples and lead the youth culture that adore them in the right direction, not just simply try to make money.


White's failure to comment on political issues does NOT directly lead to the assumption that he's only out to make money.

I'm personally put off when I pay money to see an artist and have to sit and listen to him/her rant on topics that have little-to-nothing to do with their music. I paid for a concert, not a political rally. This is not to say it is wrong for an artist to use their position of influence to voice opinions... I just don't personally prefer it.

What are we coming to, when an artist gets ragged on for NOT voicing his opinion on politics? Let politicians be political. That's enough for us all. I'd like to see musicians be musical again, and to have nothing more expected of them.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/BrandonRoss/Photo 118.jpg BrandonRoss

I have been a devoted fan of Jack White for many many years. Jack White is one of the most intelligent, and humble rockers i have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Jack was raised in a family of nine brothers and sisters, so with that he was forced to learn a lot of what he knows by himself. He dropped out of school. Never when back. Practiced music 4-8 hours in a day. Had little to no money. My point is that he has EARNED to be where he is right now. He has worked hard to be in the place that he is in life. I don’t think that he owes anyone anything...not a political stunt, not a comment, no magic tricks. Nothing. He does what he knows best..and if anything comes into his way of that..they dont have a leg to stand on. So Kele...think before you speak..and learn how to play the guitar properly.


Jack White has always been about the music. He is making the world a better place by encouraging music/art education with his work. I don't blame Bloc Party for calling Jack out on this, but i don't blame Jack for knowing his place in the industry.


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