We might or might not do what you tell us

rage.jpgpic courtesy Ariba

I was at least 4 of the 300,000 or so people who downloaded Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of” as a Christmas Number 1 in the UK to prevent it being the predicted spin off of one of Simon Cowell’s reality TV series

In case you missed the whole thing, a good summary is here

It took me a few days to crystallise my thoughts (also I was IN the UK when it happened but wrote most of this when in South Africa).

I had quite a few discussions with friends/associates and read a number of threads (not to mention #ratm4xmas) in which I came across a wide range of opinions and perspectives about the whole thing. Mine follow.A summary of my thoughts:

I am not a great fan of RATM (not their biggest critic either – oh the joys of being in the middle) and there are many other more worthy anthems that could have been chosen, including perhaps something from the UK’s own heritage of protests against the ‘Machine’- Career Opportunities by the Clash anyone?

It could have even been the spark for someone to create something – most recently see Stephen Fry’s choice of winner for dontdisconnect.us – a ‘punk’ styled song protesting at the suggested Digital Economy Bill.

Conversely I am probably not Simon Cowell’s greatest detractor. He is:

a. quite a clever man, playing a pantomime baddy in a superficial industry, to get rich
b. genuinely exploitative, not very nice – and rich.
c. some bizarre combination with other forgettable qualities thrown in – and rich

none of which warrant him much of my attention.

But I don’t think that’s the point here

The thing with a protest vote, is that it is not really about the candidates – it is either a vote against the choice of candidates or a vote against the system itself.

Either way – my conclusions as a part of what may come to be seen as a remarkable first (Social media flexing its might – ie people actually committing effort and capital – in the new media landscape?) are that the best way to consider this is in terms of ‘musicality’ – a necessarily vague (ie not really thought out) way of describing how in its simplest terms, several tones combine ‘so that they are pleasing, expressive or intelligible’ (Webster’s Intermediate Dictionary).

In this instance it was a combination of:

A chance to have a swipe at a pantomime villain.

A simple idea with a call to action – ‘do this to make this happen’

Support and information – a lot of the information spread was based on finding easy ways to do something -lots of advice Eg “You can go on iTunes, you can buy from Amazon” etc.

A good cause – charitable donations to Shelter

A time limited goal – the difference between ‘joining’ something and ‘getting something done’

Rising momentum as the goal approached – ‘we only need x number to do it, latest figures suggest that…’

and the following totally unscientific diagram showing how the 300,000 downloads might have been distributed by motive…


Update: 4/7/10 – I have also just helped to send Justin Bieber to tour North Korea (hopefully)


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