Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chomsky's Jockin' Me: Hip Hop & the Myth of a Democratic American Economy

I was 19 years old when I read my first Chomsky book. I'm not saying I completely understood it, but I knew that I was reading the right person for what I wanted to say.

I've continued to read and consider Chomsky's works and I greatly admire his longevity and commitment to fighting the good fight. Woody Guthrie's guitar was a machine that fought fascism and I imagine Chomsky's a similar machine.

I just checked my email and read Chomsky's Op-Ed piece on our financial situation (full disclosure: I got the piece from someone on the always-appreciated Atlanta-based ARTNEWS-listserv). Reading the title I think, "Whoa, I totally called that." Didn't I?

I did, four days ago I posted a similar title.

But, my title is just wrong. There's nothing democratic about America's economy, as Chomsky points out; although I would suggest that a cursory look at America's media (especially mainstream hip hop) suggests that the myth of a democratic economy is a widely-promulgated myth.

I mention hip hop in particular because there is this constant narrative being amplified on the radio waves by major rappers that any G in America can become a Don if he just hustles enough and girds his loins enough. But that is simultaneously the challenge that rappers put out there to show just how tough they really are, isn't it? That's how we can understand T.I.'s recent insistence that although he has both the number 1 album and number 1 single in the U.S. right now, he's still really the underdog.

I know, I know, pointing out that rappers are full of it is like pointing out that George W. Bush is the 21st century Hitler - too obvious - but, let's look at the plain truth of the world I live in, k?

If people (other than my super-supportive wife and immediate friends and family that I annoy into reading this blog) read this blog they might take exception to me characterizing Dubya as a fascist genocidal leader. I'm sorry, but that's how history will remember him. I assume that most Americans don't see it that way for two reasons:

1) just as with the Germans of Hitler's times, it would be too painful to admit to yourself everyday when you woke up that you were tacitly supporting such a monster and to ease that feeling,
2) the American media is a web of lies, pure and simple as evidenced in this article about T.I.

The article begins with T.I. saying,
"Nobody has ever given me a win and nobody has ever said, 'T.I., you know he's going to do this thing.' They always (say), 'He's not going to do this much, he's not going to do that good, I don't believe he'll do that well.' So its always been an uphill battle for me no matter how big I get I'm always the underdog."
and then, in the very same page, they quote him saying,
"It wasn't like I said let me get Jay, Wayne and Kanye on the same song," he said. "The song started off with me and Kanye and it was just me and Kanye, and mutual associates of all four of us suggested, 'Hey man, if Jay and Wayne were on here too, it'll be one of the biggest songs in hip-hop history.' So I said, 'You know what, that's a great idea. It's ambitious, but it's a great idea.' So we reached out and they agreed and it's a pleasure to have them involved.
So, clearly, very influential people were telling T.I., "Hey, you'd do really well if you did this."

I know this seems infantile, maybe an exception that proves a rule, but look at this election campaign: one lie overcome by another lie, and the media doesn't bat an eye when they report the opposite of what is clearly true.

I used to think that it was absurd and exceptional that a professional wrestler would be a state governor.

But now I'm beginning to realize that Mike Judge was spot-on in his movie, Idiocracy: the very power structure under which we toil and serve is best characterized as professional wrestling/Ramboesque posturing.

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