Flood of Protest Songs Reflects Growing Anger
"Popular culture, once something of a monolith, has broken into stratified niches, and audiences have a seemingly infinite number of distractions vying for their time and attention.
'Everything in the culture is fragmented, and therefore it's very hard for anything in the culture to be the big voice in the way that, say, songs that came out during the civil rights movement could be in the early '60s,' says Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and author of "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage."
Gitlin points to another key difference.
'Forty years ago, there was a social movement, or a collection of social movements, and people gravitated to the music because they thought the music spoke for them,' he says. 'So the music ... was an anthem for armies that were already on the march. Today, the armies are not so much on the march, if there are armies. So necessarily, the place of the music is going to be different. It's more often out ahead of what people are doing in their political lives.'