A seminal Pink Floyd album, The Wall, was released in late 1979 – almost 34 years ago. Since then, maybe long before then, Floyd fans have laughed at all the straights and their misunderstanding of the contents of the album, as well as their completely missing the point of the band in the first place.
As if it still needed to be said, Pink Floyd is not a person. It is a band. The guys poked fun at that misunderstanding in their song “Have a Cigar”, in which a record executive asks, “Oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?” But they took it even further by naming the protagonist of The Wall concept album “Pink”, further confusing parents.
And it is Pink as a character, and all his stressed and drugged-out foibles, that is confusing people once again, 34 years later.
At a recent concert by Roger Waters, the former bassist/vocalist for Pink Floyd, and the man who wrote most of The Wall material, a huge prop pig was flown over the audience. The flying pig has been a staple of Pink Floyd and Waters shows ever since the Animals album, which predates The Wall. Waters occasionally has other symbols and messages put on the pig, including anti-consumerism and anti-corporatism messages.
At this particular show in Belgium, one Jewish man saw the pig, and noticed on it, among other symbols, a Star of David, the long-held symbol of Judaism. He was quite offended, as one blogger relayed.
“I came to the concert because I really like his music, without any connection to his political stance toward Israel,” says Alon Onfus Asif, an Israeli living in Belgium. “And I had a lot of fun, until I noticed the Star of David, on the inflatable pig. That was the only religious-national symbol which appeared among other symbols for fascism, dictatorships and oppression of people. Waters crossed the line and gave expression to an anti-Semitic message, beyond all his messages of anti-militancy.”
Since Asif’s statement, one rabbi has come out accusing Waters of anti-Semitism, saying, “With this disgusting display Roger Waters has made it crystal clear. Forget Israel, never mind ‘limited boycotts promoting Middle East Peace.’ Waters is an open hater of Jews.”
If Asif had been listening, he would have heard Waters singing about a man, Pink, who was in the throes of a breakdown that made him hallucinate that he was a militant leader, akin to a Hitler character. He would have heard quotes attributed to this unstable man, such as:
“Are there any queers in the theater tonight?
Get ’em up against The Wall
There’s one in the spotlight he don’t look right to me
Get him up against The Wall
That one looks Jewish
And that one’s a coon
Who let all this riffraff into the room?”
Roger Waters himself is avowedly anti-militant. The album that immediately followed The Wall, called The Final Cut, was about his disgust with Margaret Thatcher’s military moves in the Falklands. Parts of both albums are about Waters’ father, who had been killed in World War II fighting Nazis.
In short, all these people offended by a pig with a Star of David on it have missed the point. It’s about a character, a man no one would consider stable. He is not a hero. And he falls in the end. If Mr. Asif and the rest of the Anti-defamation folk really did “like his music”, or could even use Google, they would know better.
Watch the video and see for yourself.