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© Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
Popular Culture vs. Bush
[The hundred million Americans who don't vote may not be active citizens, but they certainly are active consumers. And what they consume is mass culture. When a gigantic Hip-Hop star like Eminem releases a video in which he impersonates George W. Bush's demented zone-out in the Booker Elementary classroom, that's a very good thing for the 911 Truth Movement. Perhaps more importantly, it may remind millions of young Americans that this President (i.e., this administration and its corporate allies) watches while they die. Even if they don't notice the active complicity of the administration in the events of 9/11, they'll be reminded that Bush did nothing to help. Eminem is not the first performer to step forward with criticism of Bush regarding 9/11. But he may be the most important one to do so yet: his immense popularity as a crossover artist extends across demographics of ethnicity, region, and to some extent, even age. People from the ghetto and the trailer park alike burned in the WTC; as for class, both the investment bankers and the custodial staff were pulverized to the same powder. About twenty million people who were minors in 2001 have since become eligible to vote, and that's not all they're eligible for: some are in those boxes we're not supposed to photograph as they're unloaded at Dover Air Force Base.
Here Mike Kane of FTW and noted political Hip-Hop outfit Clarity, keeps us abreast of developments in what should be a crucial population at the polls. Editor's Note: the positions espoused in lyrics quoted within this article are not necessarily representative of the positions of FTW personnel. From The Wilderness does not advocate violence. -JAH]
October 25, 2004 0800 PDT (FTW) - The Entertainment Industry was a visible force in election 2004 during the summer, but the final weeks of the campaign are seeing a more aggressive push against the incumbent and all he represents. Now Eminem has marshaled his prodigious stardom for the anti-Bush cause with his latest single, "Mosh."
"F--k Bush, until they bring them troops home!"
The video opens with the World Trade Center being struck by UA Flight 175, sending tremors throughout a nearby building. As the camera swoops in through the window, we see Eminem in a classroom reading to schoolchildren. This is, of course, a reenactment of what happened on 9/11, when Bush continued to read about goats in Booker Elementary School after he was told, "America is under attack." While the "Grand Old Party" would prefer to remember this as the moment when the Commander was first informed of the attacks, in reality Dubya knew all about the first WTC impact before he made the trip from the hotel to Booker Elementary. Either way, the goats in the book had little to offer in the way of life-saving advice.
The footage of Bush at Booker was first used by the NYC Video Production Crew Shadow Government Television in their documentary Osama is a Bush, but was seen worldwide when Michael Moore used the same footage in Fahrenheit 9/11. Eminem's decision to reenact the scene brings a vast new audience to the unanswered questions:
Why didn't the president react? How could the Secret Service have been so sure another plane wasn't headed for the elementary school to kill Bush? Who was America's Commander in Chief while Bush read about goats?
The answer to each of those questions is Dick Cheney, but that's another story.
In 2003, Eminem was investigated by the Secret Service for his lyrics in the song We as Americans, featured on his latest release titled Encore.
F--k money. I don't rap for dead presidents.
I'd rather see the president dead. It's never been said,
but I set precedents and the standards and they can't stand it. ... We as Americans. Us as a citizen. We've got to protect ourselves..."
This reminds me of a song by Dead Prez called Assassination, from their first CD Let's Get Free:
You ain't even safe with a full clip,
I swear on the president's grave, I'm sick of livin' in this bullsh-t
We gotta take it to the full lift,
Meet us up on Capitol Hill, and we can get up on some real sh-t
In the midst of a very clear, though at times un-stated, presidential endorsement from the entertainment industry, will Eminem's "Mosh" be played on MTV before the election? Will it be in regular rotation? It can be seen now at GNN.tv.
Many hip-hop artists have been extremely vocal about their politics long before this election year and are still going strong.
After 9/11, Paris came out of retirement with Sonic Jihad, openly attacking the Bush Administration and sporting the most controversial album cover of the year. Immortal Technique followed suit when he released the lyrically eloquent Revolutionary Vol. 2. And Dead Prez continued to do what they have done for many years with their latest release RBG (Revolutionary but Gangsta).
They have been so successful shaking the underground that their tremors were felt on the Billboard charts when Jadakiss included the line, "Why did Bush take down the Towers?" in his #1 hit single "Why?" Now their message has reached new levels of audience exposure. Eminem's turn toward politics is bound to bring attention to those who have been doing this much longer.
Throughout the Industry, what is largely seen as the pinnacle of mainstream dissent against Bush in America is Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, but it wasn't his only controversial piece in 2004. Mike directed the anti-war video BOOM!, a song by Armenian Metal band System of a Down which was banned from MTV just as the U.S. was invading Iraq.
Recently Chronic Future's Time and Time Again played on MTV despite its left-leaning portrayal of war. Maybe the surreal animation somehow made this video less threatening to the network and its advertisers? Maybe times are changing.
If so, they haven't changed much for Maynard and A Perfect Circle. The band's latest single, a remake of John Lennon's Imagine, can only be seen online at their website. The video uses stock footage showing the atrocities of war. The video opens with an interview of Maynard saying how ironic it is that the controversial footage was broadcast live across network TV, yet no one will play their new video because of that very footage. [to see the video, go to www.aperfectcircle.com and click on the news section]
Howard Stern declared war on Bush when the FCC declared yet another war on the First Amendment (in the person of, for instance, Howard Stern). The Dixie Chicks spoke out against Bush in Europe and came home to see their songs wiped off of Clear Channel radio affiliates. Even Bruce Springsteen got in the mix recently with the Vote for Change tour.
Eminem's agenda with his release of "Mosh" seems almost identical to Springsteen's, but with a different target audience. Getting a major showing of young voters at the polls is the obvious message by the end of "Mosh."
With voices of dissent being shut out of the mainstream media, we see Howard Stern signing with Sirius Satellite Radio and leaving the FM dial in 2006. Howard recently told Billboard magazine that he believes, "There is going to be a rebirth of protest music" via satellite radio. He will be running three new radio stations on Sirius.
Meanwhile Dead Prez, A Perfect Circle, and Eminem are all using the Internet to debut controversial videos which, in some cases, will remain limited to the Internet. But the growing censorship of national TV and radio in America can only add strength to the new media paradigm these artists are promulgating.