Pop Culture as 21st Century News
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With every era there are positives and negatives: it balances humanity. One of those is most definitely the political climate of the world. At this time, the world seems to be on the verge of another world war. The civil war in Syria seems to be worsening every day with no resolve seeming imminent. Terrorist groups have destroyed the trust between not only the people and the government with its response, but also between Muslims and non-Muslims. And most of all, the 2016 Presidential Election has the two least popular candidates in U.S. history as its frontrunners. So how is the news conveying all of this?
One of the fundamental ideals of news and journalism is to be objective. Now what that means is to convey the topic at hand in a way that has, in theory, the least bias possible and has many points of view to convey multiple sides. Yet, there will always be people who write in a biased perspective since, in the end, it is humans who are doing the writing. This is why news outlets have biases towards issues and why they fail to accomplish objectivity in reporting on news.
Don’t believe me? Look in the news and tell me that you see stories about the crisis in Syria or the Holocaust of the Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar. You don’t. Instead, you see whatever disease-like word that crawl out of the mouth of Republican nominee Donald Trump (I tried to be nice…). News organizations and reporters alike choose “news” that gets viewers/readers rather than offering information that would be a service for society.
Blatant Bias in Comedy News
It is by no surprise that other social outlets have become much more popular than regular day-to-day news. In particular, comedy news shows with blatant biases have risen up in terms of popularity. Shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert use comedy to make fun of news while also reporting on it, which was originally started by former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart.
This boom exploded even more with John Oliver’s show in 2014, “Last Week Tonight.” Sharing a similar news format with “The Daily Show,” where Oliver used to work, the show has a uniqueness to it where Oliver spends anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to discuss topics that the average American would not know about because of the lack of attention. For example, he spent time on Government Surveillance last year because it was on the verge of being discontinued (it was!), the Canadian Election the day before the election, and even the controversial issues surrounding the Guantanamo Bay prison closure.
On the election, he always has a comedic way to represent its horrific nature. He has also done deep dives on the elections but on issues that the media doesn’t cover very often, such as the presidential scandals. You might have heard about Benghazi or the Clinton Foundation, but when was the last time you heard of the Trump Foundation or Trump University? Oliver does so much to ensure that people understand the problems of their time, and it is booming. He has been named one of the most influential people on the planet by Time Magazine and even recently won an Emmy. However, Oliver is not the only voice that resonates among the people.
Other Voices among the People
In the midst of this entire horrifying worldwide political climate, the rock band Green Day has returned with an album heavy on social commentary on what is going on in the world. This is not the first time, however, that the band has expressed social commentary. Its Grammy-award winning album from 2004, “American Idiot,” had a political theme about people who came of age after 9/11. The songs tell about an adolescent anti-hero — Jesus of Suburbia — who is divided between rage and love. Five years later in 2009, the band followed up that album with an anarchist romance called “21st Century Breakdown.” The music in this album questions our selfish manipulation of politics, religion and more. While those two records contained acerbic commentary, the new album, “Revolution Radio,” is just as radical even though it seems like just a few middle-aged rockers speaking their minds. It is a welcome return.
Green Day’s deliberate expression of social commentary is achieved through provoking lyrics. Although most of the album was written before this election season, it definitely has connections with the current political and media climate. The first single to be released was “Bang Bang,” a song that, believe it or not, delved into the mind of a mass shooter. With lines such as “Daddy’s little psycho/Mommy’s little soldier” and “I am a semiautomatic lonely boy/You’re dead/I’m well fed,” the band looked at the psychological aspects of why someone would do something so horrid. In an interview with The Rolling Stone, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said, “The scary thing was when I went into the character’s head. I started getting dizzy.”
Another big song was the title track “Revolution Radio.” The inspiration came to them from a Black Lives Matter protest, as noted in The Rolling Stone. Like the name implies, this song talks against the bias of the “antisocial media” and called for people to talk against it. They called the past “deleted” and want justice for the “lost souls that were cheated.” Two very frequent lines in song are “Give me cherry bombs and gasoline,” with a threat of anger and destruction, and “Legalize the truth.”
Another song, “Say Goodbye,” was in direct response to the climate in Ferguson Missouri two years ago and talks of police brutality. They said to “Teach your children well” about such racism (a reference to the 1971 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song) and to “Say goodbye to ones that you loved” while also saying “hello to the cops on patrol.” It was a very lyrically strong song in the album that resonates with many in America who, unfortunately, are afraid of our own law enforcement.
Finally, one of the last songs, “Forever Now,” began with what Armstrong called “the most honest line” he has ever written according to The Rolling Stone interview, “My name is Billie and I am freaking out.” That is only the tip of the iceberg, as the band is “Standing at the edge of the world/It’s giving me the chills.” Alongside the line, “If this is what you call the good life, I want a better way to die,” they portray the same fear so many others are feeling. Though it was most likely written before the election came into full fruition, it still has relevance. Many people were terrified of Hillary Clinton’s judgment during the campaign and worried about her leadership of American just as they were horrified at literally everything Donald Trump said. The band also called out to the people to do something about it with the lines, “I want to start a revolution/I want to hear it on my radio/I’ll put it off another day/ I want a new conspiracy/ And the silence of a thousand cries/So hurry up/I want a better way to die.”
Who Do You Trust?
Today’s politics and government are at fault on a worldwide scale, with all people facing some level of negligence. However, what really pours salt in the wound is the real lack of proper news reporting on these events. It seems strange and wrong to a certain extent, but people are beginning to trust comedians and rock bands more than news outlets for the true happenings of the earth. How could we let something like this be tolerated? We need to step in, not as liberals, not as conservatives, and not as generations, but as the people of earth to make things right.