televise it: we’re all actors in this

The Revolution will continue after this short commercial break from our sponsors…

At one time it would have been hard to imagine that “authenticity” could be used to sell almost any product or service. The ingenuity of the American marketing machine is to appropriate and commodify authenticity. As Joshua Glenn has pointed out, a misdirected quest for authenticity is an ugly thing. Then why should individuals strive to be true and authentic? It is a state of being, of living in the moment, or is it a futile gesture to reach a concept crafted by an advertising agency. The passing of Gil Scott-Heron is reflection of this ongoing process of commodification of black culture at this stage of post-capitalism, where in this case, legitimate black outrage and dissent becomes a product.

---Mask, Bassa peoples, Liberia, Late 19th to early 20th century, Wood, bone, iron Although this mask is the senior entertainment mask of the men's No association, it emphasizes desirable traits for women to emulate through its graceful, smooth dance style.... Read More:

If whites today can no longer purchase blacks as slaves, they still want to attain the black experience through the black culture industry; even if it means at a very cheezy level , buying the aesthetic which comes with the “Elwood” blackened chicken sandwich and watercress-jicama salad at the House of Blues, or even a bagel. The dynamic seems to be that commodification erases, and blots out the history of black struggle. In the music industry, one of the few black capitalist models; success within this entertainment complex appears to be contingent, as Bell Hooks as pointed out, of conforming to stereotypes. So, promoting a black culture as a commodity ostensibly points to the end of racism, but at the same time reinforces and maintains the racial hierarchy in place of long date. The “master’s voice” as it were.

---This deangle mask from Liberia is used in masquerades to give physical form to bodiless spirits. Carved by the Dan people, the masks features represent idealized female beauty, although the spirit is genderless. The stripe across the eyes is a current makeup practice among women of the Dan in Liberia, but the raised line that runs down the forehead is representative of a tattooing practice that is no longer in use. For a man to create a deangle mask, a spirit must come to him in a dream to show the appearance that it wants him to create...---Read More:

You have to wonder if Heron’s music actually contributed to expanding on the very issues  of which he sought to mitigate their effect. Perhaps Adorno’s critique of popular music within mass culture is pertinent:

Theodor Adorno: “I believe, in fact, that attempts to bring political protest together with ‘popular music’ – that is, with entertainment music – are for the following reason doomed from the start. The entire sphere of popular music, even where it dresses itself up in modernist guise is to such a degree inseparable from…consumption, from the crossed-eyed transfixion with amusement, that…attempts to outfit it with a new function remain entirely superficial. And I have to say that when somebody sets himself up, and for whatever reason (accompanies) maudlin music by singing something or other about Vietnam being unbearable…I find, in fact, this song unbearable, in that by taking the horrendous and making it somehow consumable, it ends up wringing something like consumer qualities out of it.” Read More:…Huh!_What_Are_They_Good_For%3F

---What hip-hop culture has essentially done is make explicit the very crisis of identity that the black public at large faces. According to literary scholar Sharon Patricia Holland, “identity only becomes an issue when it is in crisis, when something assumed to be fixed, coherent and stable is displaced by the experience of doubt and uncertainty.”--- Read More:

Thomas Frank: For some, Ken Kesey’s parti-colored bus may be a hideous reminder of national unraveling, but for Coca-Cola it seemed a perfect promotional instrument for its “Fruitopia” line, and the company has proceeded to send replicas of the bus around the country to generate interest in the counterculturally themed beverage. Nike shoes are sold to the accompaniment of words delivered by William S. Burroughs and songs by The Beatles, Iggy Pop, and Gil Scott Heron (“the revolution will not be televised”); peace symbols decorate a line of cigarettes manufactured by R. J. Reynolds and the walls and windows of Starbucks coffee shops nationwide; the products of Apple, IBM, and Microsoft are touted as devices of liberation; and advertising across the product category sprectrum calls upon consumers to break rules and find themselves.Read More:

New York Times:Commentators sometimes used Mr. Scott-Heron’s plight as an example of the harshness of New York’s drug laws. Yet his friends were also horrified by his descent. In interviews Mr. Scott-Heron often dodged questions about drugs, but the writer of the New Yorker profile reported witnessing Mr. Scott-Heron’s crack smoking and being so troubled by his own ravaged physical appearance that he avoided mirrors. “Ten to 15 minutes of this, I don’t have pain,” Mr. Scott-Heron said in the article, as he lighted a glass crack pipe. That image seemed to contrast tragically with Mr. Scott-Heron’s legacy as someone who had once so trenchantly mocked the psychology of addiction. “You keep sayin’ kick it, quit it, kick it quit it!” he said in his 1971 song “Home Is Where the Hatred Is.” “God, did you ever try to turn your sick soul inside out so that the world could watch you die?” Read More: image:http


The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theater and will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.

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, because the revolution will not be televised, brother.

Mark Anthony Neal:...some within the black community use “niggas” as the empty vessel to project their hatred, disgust and embarrassment with those black bodies that don’t fit some bourgeois and idiosyncratic notion of who “real” black people are supposed to be. Banning the word “nigger” will not erode the realities of white supremacy, but at least for some, it will further diminish the visibility of those within our ranks who some feel are not deserving of the very humanity that we all seek. Read More: image:

Adorno also developed a model of “authenticity” in which cultural products are passed off as authentic representations:

This mode of fake authenticity is all around us, every day, typically expressed in what Theodor Adorno called, in The Jargon of Authenticity , “the jargon of authenticity”: a nonsense-language that seems to express (in a resonant voice) a need for meaning and liberation, but which only serves to mystify and oppress. Thirty-five years ago, Adorno argued that the jargon of authenticity is closely allied with the manipulations of advertising. Sure enough, as the twentieth century nears its end, the idea that one can rebel against bourgeois life by buying what Thomas Frank, the editor of the Baffler, has described as “soaps that liberate us, soda pops that are emblems of individualism, and counter-hegemonic hamburgers,” is all-triumphant. We can see what the Baffler calls the “commodification of dissent” present in the pre-history of existential authenticity; perhaps by understanding the origins of both authenticity and fake authenticity we can finally get a handle on why (as opposed to how) the commodification of dissent has been so successful. Read More:

---This is made possible by the fact that the "public," so to speak, has ceased to exist, and has been replaced by various discrete markets in a society that reduces everything to dollar signs. If by some chance black public intellectuals know nothing of the subject matter they are called upon to explain, that is beside the point. The point is they have engaged the public which is usually white and has money. Never have so many theorized about so much and said so little. This has led some of these intellectuals to embrace the cause of hip-hop, which, to some degree, has made today's market intellectuals relevant. For beyond blackness and black issues, black market intellectuals have really little to offer. --- Read More:



Joshua Glenn:”No authentic human life is possible without irony”-Kierkegaard, The Concept of Irony (1840)

So, is there any such thing as authenticity? No, there isn’t. To Baudrillard, whenever “authenticity” is evoked, we are already in the world of the fake. Hermenaut suggests the following update: Whenever “authenticity” is evoked, we are actually in the world of fake authenticity. Although Italians do open restaurants, there is no such thing as an authentic Italian restaurant. Although history, nature, race, and class are very real and very much with us, there is no such thing as an authentic past, an authentic outdoors, nor an authentic non-white/middle-class style of life. News flash: Poor urban blacks do exist when they’re not being featured on America’s Funniest Race Riots, but there is no item of clothing, no compact disc, and no affected manner of walking or talking which will allow anyone who is not poor, urban, or black to approximate that. “Authenticity” is a reality-label from the art world, and as such it cannot be fixed to anything living and vital. For that matter, it’s even difficult to describe a piece of art as “authentic” in the sense of “not fake”. Read More:

Norman Kelley:This is somewhat astounding considering that Prof. Marable is the author of How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, which analyzed how the capitalist mode of production gutted black America. But Motown is only mentioned once in that entire book, and that's in the accepted framework of black capitalism, which, according to Marable, has the possibility of pushing the "advocates of black capitalism into the political camp of the most racist and conservative forces of white America." Indeed, music for most market intellectuals is an afterthought, which they use as a means to an end, and that end is seldom about understanding the entire political, economic and cultural nexus of the various art forms that blacks have produced but have no real control over. Most independent rap record labels are partially owned by one of the five major labels AOL Time Warner, Sony Music, Bertelsmann Music Group, Vivendi Universal, EMI and serve as compradorian depots for the recruitment of young, naive artists who form a black Rhythm Nation that comes from the inner cities. ...Read More: image:


…When the 22-year-old Kierkegaard wrote, in 1835, “The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live or die,” this was no exercise prescribed by The Artist’s Way. Instead of looking inward, hacking his way romantically through the underbrush of convention and habit to “the source of [his] self,” or however it’s usually put, he was creative; he artistically engaged with a social world he found constraining and immoral . When Nietzsche wrote that the world is composed not of questions with answers, but of “infinite interpretations,” this was not a resigned statement of relativistic nihilism, but a challenge to each of us: to boldly interpret where no one has interpreted before; to create not truth, but truthfulness, where none would otherwise exist; to be, for lack of a better word, an artist….

--- PROPERTY FROM A NEW YORK PRIVATE COLLECTION A PENDE MASK Description carved from lightweight wood, of broad proportions, the pointed chin beneath the open mouth baring filed teeth, the typical upturned nose bisecting the heavy-lidded downcast eyes beneath arched brows and wearing a headdress, '1405' in white pigment at the reverse; aged surface of yellow ochre, white and black pigment....---Read More:

…Before being an artist, however, the would-be anti-hero (anti-, because whereas a “hero” perfectly embodies society’s prevailing ethos, the person seeking existential authenticity rejects every ethos in favor of his or her own subjective pathos) of this type of authenticity must become an ironist.Read More:

Gil Scott-Heron ( B-Movie) :

The first thin I want to say is “mandate” my ass

Because it seems as though we’ve been convinced

That 26% of the registered voters

No even 26% of the American people

Form a mandate or a landslide…

But, oh yeah, I remember…

I remember what I said about Reagan

Acted like an actor/Hollyweird

Acted like a liberal

Acted like General Franco

When he acted like governor of California

Then he acted like a Republican

Then he acted like somebody was going to vote for him for president

And now he acts like 26% of the registered voters

Is actually a mandate

We’re all actors in this, actually

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Literature/poetry/spoken word, Music/Composition/Performance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>