Do you see any artists today who are, as you once said, "slipping inside the villains"?
Jello Biafra: I don't know whether I see it as slipping inside the villains, but part of what makes Ralph Nader and Michael Moore such effective speakers and communicators is that they know how corporate culture works, how our lawmaking bodies really work, and where the bones are buried.
And in the case of Michael Moore, having a deep, I'd even say passionate, understanding of other types of people in America who might be progressive thinkers without even realizing it. They see the same things we do from a very different lens. I suspect even a large part of Rush Limbaugh's audience buys into what he says because it's the same basic frustration that forms this wedge of discontent in this country called "Why can't I put food on the table?"
The Progressive: Your sixth spoken-word album is called "Become the Media." How do you become the media?
Jello Biafra: I would say there's been a huge widening of the do-it-yourself 'zine culture that may be the best gift punk has given the world, even more than all the cool music. It widened further when Riot Grrrl happened, and now it's caught on to the point where even high school students are publishing their own 'zines about their school, or about the education system itself. There's a great one out of either Louisville or Lexington, Kentucky, called Brat, and I don't know if it still exists or not. I hope it does. What impressed me the most was it had quickly moved on from the "Why School Sucks" articles to "This is how we who are actually going to school right now feel the education system could be reformed."
One of the best things that's come out of the Seattle protests is the birth of the Independent Media Center. It's not as though the independent media movement wasn't already there, but it's given it another jump-start. There's the feeling that not only should we report on our underground culture and our own situation, but now we have to start telling people what's really going on at a time when everything from CNN to USA Today is as tightly controlled as Tass or Pravda.
We've never had a situation where mass media has been so censored, at least in my lifetime. When I was younger, networks like NBC, CBS, were independently owned, and took their jobs as journalists seriously. There used to be documentaries like "The Selling of the Pentagon." There was another one detailing the connections between the harsh treatment of workers in Florida's citrus groves and Coca- Cola. PBS even had a series on for a little while called "The Nader Report." You don't see stuff like that now. So we have to replace that by communicating among ourselves.
read the rest of the interview at The Progressive
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