Look at all of the words! In the name of the artist. The name of the album. The name of the song. So many words!
In 1992, Michael Franti had a lot of words floating around in his head, and with the help of his partner-in-crime, Rono Tse, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprosy put out an album where Franti said every single of those things over beats and sound collages that didn’t really sound a whole hell of a lot like anything else anybody was doing.
Which is why I loved “Television, The Drug of The Nation,” despite the fact that I felt that some of the many many words in the song were somewhat clunky. And so I while loved the percussion-heavy beat and the funky bassline throughout, some of the lyrics felt like beating me around the head with my own beliefs. Bad TV is Bad!!
That said, there was some great stuff, like:
Absorbed in it’s world it’s so hard to find us
it shapes our minds the most
Maybe the mother of our nation
should remind us
that we’re sitting too close
Television, the drug of the nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation
But then there’s stuff that falls flat, like:
Where imagination is sucked out of children
by a cathode ray nipple
TV is the only wet nurse
that would create a cripple
or this, especially:
You saw the video
You heard the soundtrack
Now go but the soft drink
Well, the only cola that I support
would be a union C.O.L.A. (Cost of Living Allowance)
But here’s the thing: I love that part, mostly because of Franti’s gorgeous flow during “C.O.L.A (Cost of Living Allowance)”
And I love this song, even though I disagree with its one-sided assessment of TV. Yes, pretty much everything he says is true, but TV brought us good things, too. And not just Twin Peaks and The Simpsons, either.
For one thing, TV was bringing us world events in much more in-depth fashion than ever before, so you could watch things like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square protests or even Gulf War 1.0 in a new fashion.
For another, it’s always been my contention that America’s greatest weapon against international tyranny is our popular culture. The more inane, the better. People see it, and want to emulate it, instead of actively trying to destroy it. Most people, no matter who they are, just want a better life. And who has a better life than people in shitty sitcoms? At least, that’s my crackpot theory.
Video for “Television, The Drug of the Nation”