Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Essay

African Americans used this style of singing to express he discontent with the economics and politics during the asses. The black population was still economically and politically powerless compared to the white demographic, despite the efforts made by the Civil Rights Movement of the asses. White employers barred African Americans from attaining white collar roles, and the integration of black and white schools proceeded ATA very slow pace in the South. In other words, De facto discrimination existed, which was simply discrimination that was not ordained by the law.

Spoken word poetry did not only address the issues elated to African Americans, but also addressed the American involvement In the Vietnam War, and the rights of women. Many black musicians voiced these issues through spoken word poetry, but perhaps the most notable musician was Gill Scott- Heron. A notable rap by Gill Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, was a product of its political time period. This piece portrays a society faced with the controversial cultural Issues of the ass’s and the methods that are necessary to overcome them.

It targets major political figures and sources of media that according o Heron, prevents countries from making social changes. Topics such as the presidency. Political figures relating to the Vietnam War. Television. And music all presented the consumer culture that stopped the change activists wanted to see at the time. In his lyrics he expressed his belief that society could ideally change when people came to the right conclusions through thinking for themselves and not relying on the press and media. The context and setting of this rap is American In the sass’s.

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Historically, this period came after the Civil Rights Movement, during the start of the Nixon era. The Vietnam War was dividing the nation’s population into anti-war protestors and those that supported the war effort. It was an era of recession and continued change for minorities. One of the Issues was enforced racial integration after the Civil Rights Movement, which many institutions had still not complied with. The struggle to find equality even after the movement was something African Americans at the time had to deal with. The support tort the black power movement was one of many results of this struggle.

The media and press largely did not report n the alienation that was still present. This was an inspiration for Scott-Heron and this song in particular. Factual References in “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” Gill Scott-Heron presents many references to the superficial media and policies that ‘Off word poetry describes these outlets of references before repeating the phrase “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised… ” To strengthen the claim that the consumer media is superficially choosing to pretend that all was well when in fact a revolution was happening at their doorstep.

A selection of references will be analyzed from the erases of this poem, out of the dozens of events, policies, and people that he chooses to include. In the first verse, and throughout the rest of the song and poem, Scott- Heron describes what his revolution will NOT be; specifically he says that it will be completely unlike the media that the average African American is exposed to: muff will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out… In the second verse he makes references to several influential political figures at the time who played their parts in limiting the exposure given to African American integration attempts. “… The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abram and Spiro Agene to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary… ” In particular Scott Heron focuses on President Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States; John Mitchell, the Attorney General under President Nixon; Creighton Williams Abram Jar. Who was a general of military operations for the Vietnam War; and Spiro Agene, who was the vice president at the time for Richard Nixon. The image in his lyrics describes how the President would not lead these influential men to eat hog maws, which is a traditional soul food in African American and South-East American cuisine. In particular this reference can be attributed to influential leaders at the time slowly approaching the topic of integration only when it was necessary.

Though Richard Nixon took the first steps to start desegregation in the south it was a long process and was far from the integration of culture that many civil rights leaders wanted. In particular his Vice President Spiro Agene took no action when he was given the task to lead preliminary efforts of desegregation in the South in 1972. This part of the song conveys the idea that many of the influential leaders at the time were either inept for leading this change or would simply refuse to. In the second verse he makes references to several influential companies at the integration attempts. The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox In 4 parts without commercial interruptions… ” In particular Scott Heron focuses on the theme of corporate entities being sponsors for televised broadcasts of his revolution. The Xerox metaphor was added to show that broadcasted “revolutions” would not be authentic; these would be copies of some previously recorded entertainment for the people. The real revolution as he repeats later, will not be televised; the real revolution will be live.

Further examples of how a televised revolution can be misinterpreted are shown when he references the Watts Riots which were broadcasted on television: “There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mays pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run, or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance… The Watts Riots were pictures of shopping carts being pushed while running which references a popular picture at the time of a man running during the riot with looted items. The riots were a product of police discrimination and violence against an African American family in August 1 1, 1965.

The event incited mobs and soon large scale looting took place. The reason Scott-Heron claims there will be no pictures of this riot for his revolution was largely because the broadcasted riot was warped on television to only show acts of vandalism and did not mention the cause that motivated the people to start rioting. The selective information given by the media is one of the main reasons why Scott Heron feels the revolution or change he wants to bring to the African American struggle can only be done live and free from the bias of broadcasts.

The rap is largely Scott Heron’s testament to an America that is integrated and equal. He uses this as a basis to promote his message for each individual to act and be a part of the change themselves since the media and American culture largely catered to the white audience. Throughout his rap he lists several elements of television and movies and owe they’re broadcasted to suit the needs of the majority and how they neglect the minority sometimes.

Actors, commercials, movies, television shows all were shown to change with the times yet not accept African American integration into that culture. “… The revolution will not go better with Coke. The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat… ” The previous lines from verse 8 show this. They portray the revolution not conforming to the current culture but instead putting the individual in charge of what they want that culture to be.


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