Its Sunday the 20th of December, 2009 and “Killing in the Name”, a single from 1992 by anything-but-mainstream rap-metal group Rage Against The Machine has just been announced as the Christmas Number One.
So, they did it after all! Or rather, we did it.
Cause yeah, of course I bloody went and bought it. Sure, I know its ironic, given the lyric and the spirit of the song, to become part of something that has so much hype around it; to become part of a collective with one aim, when that aim is buying a single whose most famous lyric is “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.”
But if you’re familiar with the band and the song, its hard to argue that this little victory doesn’t embody the spirit of what Rage Against The Machine are about. Because the song isn’t about not doing what you’re told, its not about mindless rejection of any authority, its about WHO is telling you what to do and WHAT they are telling you to do.
Its up to US to make the judgement of when to follow and when not to. To pick which battles to fight. To pick which side we’re on. Do not follow blindly, but DO NOT blindly not follow.
Ok so that last part was a bit of a mouthful, but you get the idea. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this and while I understand the rejection of the movement, given the constant e-mails, twitter/facebook/myspace updates, even text messages reminding you to do something that you might not want to do, it seems to me extremely short-sighted and cynical to call all of the people who bought the single “sheep.”
One girl called me an idiot for my assertion that this event is an example of what people can do if they all rally behind a cause. Fair enough, but hardly anyone in this country hasn’t been aware of this fight for Christmas Number One. 500,000 people downloaded the single. That many extra votes for a political party could swing an election result. If people ACTUALLY CARE enough, they can do anything. As my good friend Alice put it, in reply to the people who have said that them buying the single won’t make a difference:
“the thing everyone forgets is – if everyone does it, it DOES make a difference”
She also said that life is too short to be cynical. I like that a lot. Its certainly far more hopeful than the aforementioned cynic who said “this whole rage against the machine, power to the people thing really ticks me off.”
I can’t remember the last time I heard such a sad sentence.