Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gil Scott Heron & the Flobots

When I first starting writing about the relationship between these two pieces I didn't think I would be posting it on the blog. However, I saw ideas of anthropological theory, globalization, and themes relevant to culture studies that prompted me to post my analysis. Expect more analyses on culture and literature!

“The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal/ The revolution will not get rid of the nubs/ The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner/ The revolution will not be televised, brother/…The revolution will be LIVE.”

“There is a war going on for your mind/ Media mavens mount surgical strikes from trapper keeper collages and online magazine racks/ CoverGirl cutouts throw up pop-up ads infecting victims with silicone shrapnel/ Worldwide passenger pigeons deploy paratroopers/ Now it's raining pornography, lovers take shelter/…We are the insurgents.”

The latter quote is the intro song to the Flobots’ debut album “Fight With Tools,” a highly charged political album that confronts issues of government power and the “nightmarish side of globalization” (Appadurai 2006). I present this song in analyzing Gil Scott Heron’s poem since the song resonates with a modern-day audience in relationship to themes of revolution in the 1970’s. The bombardment of media montages is viewed as an oversaturation of popular culture that is corrupting the minds of individuals. In Heron’s poem, he provides an overemphasis of this collage of popular images. In doing so, the reader becomes conscious of the mass production and advertisement of American culture that so many Americans ingest in everyday life. One might be motivated to believe that this is actually a revolution against “white culture” when Heron speaks about police brutality, soap operas, and Rare Earth. However, he also mentions several popular representations of African-American images like Julia, Willie Mae, and Watts. The revolution is not a revolution for the black man or woman—it is a revolution to regain consciousness from media montages. This revolution, however, is designed to systematically overthrow and undermine images of popular culture, thus reclaiming power over one’s own mind. The relationship between the two pieces is reinforced by the last phrase in each piece. In Heron’s poem, the phrase, “The revolution will be LIVE,” indicates the rejection of televised images and the reality of live actions that will take the media by storm. In an identical manner, the Flobots fight against this attack on the mind by proclaiming to be the insurgents. Insurgency and revolution go hand in hand in this context of destruction of media influence and the rebirth of psychological self-efficacy and individuality.

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