Bob Dylan has never been easy to categorize. His music has evolved throughout his career, but the image he projects is one of a champion of the working class, the downtrodden, and others who have been excluded from American society. His music was part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; he’s been a sharp critic of American right-wing groups, but he’s also alienated his fans when he ditched his folk music style for the more aggressive sound of rock and roll.
So it was a surprise to many when Dylan essentially changed that image with his foray into advertising brands like Cadillac, Victoria’s Secret, and most recently, Chrysler. Did Dylan sell out to corporate masters of neoliberalism? Was the message in the Chrysler ad laced with jingoistic words and images that connote a kind of proto-fascism? That’s what Media Studies professor and writer for Truthout, Tony Kashani, wanted to explore in his op-ed. “Bob Dylan and the Ethics of Market Fascism” is a piece that really ruffled the feathers of Dylan fans (myself included). However, Tony Kashani’s thesis is part of a larger mission: to spur us into a discussion about our pre-conceived notions of “America” and how that lends itself to an exclusionary ideology; an ideology that Dylan has apparently opposed – but participates in in the starring role as a pitchman for Chrysler.