Monday, November 1, 2004


/ pop / goes the politics /
Damn the man can rap...! IMHO Eminem's video could just turn out to be more important an anti-Bush factor, than the OBL October Surprise v.2004, which was kinda ineffective if you ask me... Heck even Moby liked it! Shady is not a pop icon, in the manufactured sense, he represents - and he's a voice and an indicator for a whole class of young, disaffected poor, quite a few of whom are part of the US army over in Iraq. This is a true "opinion leader", street savvy, street tough and street honest - which means honest enough to have nothing to lose when he speaks his mind. Eminem's is the sort of From The Gut political reaction that sparks riots, creates unrest and is dangerous, because it comes from that part of society that has the most to lose if things don't change. This isn't a radical manifesto of course. But it's a lot more than simply a call for a vote - although the video doesn't allow itself to become as aggressive as it initially promises. Because you know that the masses of the disaffected, when they gather, all dressed in their dark hoods, are not simply going to vote... This perceptive passage from an article in the the (consistently superb) Asia Times about the Mosh and other Signs of Our Times, pretty much hits the nail on the head:

For an 18-year-old voting for the first time, "Mosh" provokes the same impact that the barricades of May 1968 in Paris did on the "children of Mao and Coca-Cola", as film genius Jean-Luc Godard put it. The esthetic of the video may be cartoon teenage wasteland - a code easily identified by Eminem's core audience - but hardly could there be a better metaphor for the current US political nightmare than "moshing". The thing is, Eminem and director Inaba use "moshing" to organize a strategic, political response to alienation and dystopia. Voting, in this case, is only the first, necessary step toward a society of real free speech and informed, participatory democracy.

Similarly Megan O'Rourke (despite describing the clip's mode as simultaneously "fascistic" and "anti-authoritarian" - big enough to contain its opposite eh?) points out that:

...the image of an army of youth marching down the street is meant to make you feel, momentarily, that the peace between the classes is a precarious one, and that violence is the recourse—and the idiom—of those who feel themselves to be terminally disenfranchised...

Finally Juan Cole, commenting on the Mosh and Eminem, concludes with the following paragraph:

The song is important as a development in popular culture. But I am arguing that it may also be important in class terms. If any significant number of lower middle class white youth are thinking like this, it could make a difference in some races.

Heh! If any significant number of lower middle class white youth are thinking like this, it could make a difference in a hell of a lot more than presidential politics...

So regardless whether Slim Shady is entering his political phase, the sentiment, indeed the anger, expressed seems deeper than hype - and as far from the academic PC mentality that has kept the left stale and disconnected from its natural constituency (especially across the Atlantic), as possible.

Listen, the way things are, a Michael Moore documentary and a smart hip-hop icon's video with a political message are far more important to the left than any number of petitions for peace or theoretical treatises that the academia has to offer - and their anger and the ability to voice it in an inclusive and effective way, shows a way out of the miserable and self-defeating variety of "identity politics" that has been a gift to the left's opponents everywhere for the past few decades.

Note: This wasn't the first GNN / Eminem collaboration either.

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