Despite the ridiculous juxtaposition of terms in this headline, please bear with me. Maxwell Schnurer is a columnist for the Times-Standard, a tiny paper in Eureka, California, and he has decided to play political theorist. Well, to be fair, he’s also a prolific blogger and the proud owner of one of the worst designed livejournal pages I’ve seen. It’s difficult to determine if this is the same person, but the odds are pretty strong that he is also an Assistant Professor of Communication at Humboldt State University.
Now I’m not sure if this piece he wrote is meant to be satire or what, but if we take it at face value it is an epic attempt at linking hip hop and Stalin. Well, hip hop and tyranny in general.
This is the first half of the article:
In 1931 the brutal soviet dictator Joseph Stalin convinced writer/intellectual Maxim Gorky to “return to become Stalin’s literary ornament” as written by Simon Sebag Montefiore in his recent book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.
It turned out authors and poets were relatively inexpensive. A mansion, a pair of vacation homes, the rights to his publishing monies, and a driver were all it took to lure the founder of “socialist realism” from Italian exile back to the Soviet Union, where Gorky became a mouthpiece for a bureaucratic machine that murdered and displaced millions.
I wonder what the price would be for most hip-hop “stars” these days? Would a down-on-his-luck Flavor Flav be as willing to rap for a dictator as he is to embarrass himself on a reality television show?
In the money-driven world consumption and wealth have only become more important since 1931. The MTV/BET fashion amplification engine seems to be bumping 250 dollar jeans and cocaine as icons of glamour which lays hip-hop in precisely the place Gorky was for Stalin: Cover.
I think it is a pretty bold argument to make, but Schnurer does make a few good points later on in the article. He states that watching country stars face rappers in the McCain vs. Obama campaign “in a corporate chain store version of the presidential debates – and some second tier MCs have advocated for McCain precisely because it is the kind of tantalizing entertainment/reporting that will get their names in the paper.” That is a statement I can actually agree with. You had all kinds of clowns coming out of the woodwork in an effort to get some publicity.
But really, that’s all Schnurer says that even comes close to making sense. His outlandish claims of hip hop being used as a cover for tyranny are just as bad. A desperate ploy for publicity and a creative but misdirected argument. Even though I’ve spoiled the first bit for you, please take a look anyways and make up your own mind.