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Eminem, the Indie Media, and Politics

by Anthony Kaufman
October 28, 2004 7:30 AM
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In just a few minutes, Eminem's new "Mosh" video (see it here) taps into the fury and frustration of so many of us on the left. Who would have thought the gay-bashing Eminem could crystallize the injustices of the Bush Administration into such an accessible, animated package? After "8 Mile," many thought the white rapper had a future in movies, but his latest artistic stunt proves he's got a talent for activism, too.

While the pro-Kerry voices of Bruce Springsteen, Michael Stipe and the Dixie Chicks preach to a predictable demographic, Eminem's rancor has a potentially far wider reach -- and while I'm no expert on the music of the '60s and '70s, I'd say his rage and betrayal is a lot more akin to the revolutionary tunes that helped galvanize the Civil Rights movement of the period. While listening to the radio recently, The Temptation's 1970s hit "Ball of Confusion" came on and I was astounded at how little of the complaints have changed.

Here's an excerpt from "Mosh":

"Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And Replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you'll know why, because I told you to fight."

Directed by the Guerilla News Network's Ian Inaba, with striking graphic animation from Anson Vogt, Haik Hoisington and a crack team of artists, the "Mosh" video is better than most of the work you won't see on MTV.

I recently caught another project produced by GNN (you can see a preview on gnn.tv) called "Battleground: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge," which hits the ground in Iraq to reveal true stories of Iraqis struggling to survive and the U.S. soldiers who are futilely trying to help them. While it attempts to be nonpartisan, one of the doc's most resonant voices is an African American soldier who frames the Iraq war as simply a function of globalization and expanding econonies. He has no delusions about "letting freedom reign" in Iraq. "When we say liberation, we mean capitalism," he says.

Why this black soldier is not featured on mainstream news accounts of the war shows just how much our conventional media doesn't look beyond the surface of politics and the nuances that go into a major $225-billion military operation. And why truly independent work like Eminem underground videos or Robert Greenwald's agitprop videos are so necessary.

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