In his 1971 funk, spoken word, masterpiece The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Gil Scott-Heron artfully criticized the banality of broadcast television. Deftly weaving over 50 cultural references together in just 3:06 – including Bullwinkle, Spiro Agnew, and Liquid Plumr – he elucidated that television did not foster social transformation but apathy.
Back in the 70s in the United States, only three broadcast companies (four if you count PBS), controlled what the nation saw and thereby had an enormous conforming effect in setting mores and values – both through entertainment broadcasts and coverage of current events. When Walter Cronkite told the nation “And that’s the way it is.” That’s the way it was.
Since the 70s television has grown in banality but lost much of its culturally unifying influence. We now live in a world of endless media choice. Individuals have total control over what they watch and where, when, and how they watch it.
Some have argued that this diversification and the rise of the Internet, YouTube, and social media foster political activism. I, however, am skeptical. I question if the much needed Revolution will be on Facebook. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.