Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
6/28/2005 9:20:16 AM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Various Artists.
I’m not a big fan of boycotts. Why? Because with few exceptions, modern boycotts don’t work. Boycotts are inherently temporary: “I march until you listen… I do this until you do that…” Just as consumers have gotten smarter over the years, companies and governments are now savvy enough to call the bluff. They’ve realized that as long as they control whatever’s being boycotted, boycotters eventually have to break bread with them. So more often than not, they just dig in and ride it out.
What scares companies and governments, and most people for that matter, is permanent change. Companies don’t fear picket signs and bullhorns; they fear permanent loss of business. Companies don’t fear bad quarters they fear bankruptcy. Marketers don’t fear trends, they fear fundamental paradigm shifts. Politicians don’t fear apathetic voters; they fear voters permanently switching parties or forming viable alternate parties. Governments don’t fear protests they fear coups. Californians aren’t afraid of earthquakes; they’re afraid of the one that turns the City of Angels into the Lost City of Atlantis. New Yorkers aren’t afraid of terrorism; they’re afraid of Hiroshima II on Broadway & 5th. People fear permanent change. If people think you or your group is capable of causing permanent change in their world, they’ll listen to you as if their lives depended on it. Because, figuratively, they just might.
Looking back, the last truly successful boycott I can remember—and by “successful” I mean that one that brought permanent change—was 1992’s “Cop Killer” boycott. When Ice-T ripped crooked cops and police brutality in that song, police organizations and mainstream consumers and retailers became so outraged that they marched against Time Warner demanding that the song be banned and Ice-T lose his record deal. For months media elites blasted Ice-T and other rap artists at every turn. Time Warner eventually pulled the song and ultimately sold its stake in Interscope (the label that released the song) and has distanced itself from “controversial music.” (For a while at least.)
Now I know what some of you are thinking: What about the HOT 97/Tsunami Song boycott? Yeah, well what about it? What really changed other than firing a couple of low-level on-air personalities? Station-owner Emmis is still making money. They still play music that celebrates misogyny against black women and violence and negativity targeted at black men. In fact, the entire music industry still profits off imagery and lyrics that mainly degrades blacks and celebrates the worst in the black community while marginalizing most every artist and attempt to show otherwise. So again, what’s really changed?
As consumers, voters, and citizens we have to start thinking in terms of permanent change. Whether your goals are lofty (e.g., true equality, world peace, universal education and healthcare) or small (e.g., less bad TV) you need to ask yourself 3 questions: Who is the biggest cause of this problem or biggest barrier to solving it? (2) Who/what scares them most? (3) How do I get a hold of or aligned with it/them? Answering those questions can put the possibility of permanent change on your side thereby giving you the influence you need. Love of change and hatred of complacency are our greatest weapons. Complacency is soft. Love of change means being willing to do what complacency won’t. Remember: The Hustle was built by hard hearts feeding on softened minds and weakened souls.
Now this doesn’t mean go out and buy a Ché Guevara T-shirt, load up on bottled water, Common or Talib CDs, and Michael Moore books and go vegan. That’s just shopping and anyone can shop. And this doesn’t mean violence. Again, violence solves nothing. This is about using your purchasing power, your posit
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