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gil scott-heron ronald reagan and john wayne - b movie american nostalgia | by amaah
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gil scott-heron ronald reagan and john wayne - b movie american nostalgia

My favourite urban griot, Gil Scott-Heron, is sorely missed. Here we find him in peak satire mode in the Deadwood saloon in the company of the embodiment of nostalgic myth-making, John Wayne, and the pale imitation of B-movie lore that America settled for, Ronald Reagan (or the Hollyweird Ronald the Ray-Gun as Gil would so quotably put it).


Dig The B movie theory:


"The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia.


They want to go back as far as they can – even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse - or the man who always came to save America at the last moment – someone always came to save America at the last moment – especially in "B" movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan – and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at – like a "B" movie..."


I put it this way four years ago at the height of the George W. Bush years:


We are living in a moment where nostalgia is key, we're anesthetizing ourselves with cowboy politics, selective amnesia and worse, when we'd rather have John Wayne. And Baghdad and New Orleans are not the only ones who can testify to that insight.


Gil Scott-Heron is one the great satirists, punctuating his critique with a melodious line and a soulful groove. It's uncanny how he does it, that you can't help but nod your head, tap your feet and laugh out loud even as you want to cry at what he is saying. His body of work is heroic, his prescience altogether scary.


But it is hard living as a canary in a mineshaft, if no one is listening and home is where the hatred is, can it be a surprise if there only remain fractured pieces of a man? Dig: I too might drown myself in fugitive spirits.


Anyway let's kick some urban griot poetry around this joint. Or should we call it soul food?


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Taken on May 29, 2011