Jello not light on issues

By Matt Oakes

"Lonely? Bored? Go out and cause trouble. Meet people."

Sat., Feb. 3, Jello Biafra struck a chord with a sold-out MacEwan Hall Ballroom full of like-minded enthusiasts and cautious skeptics with such advice.

Biafra, an irreverent social critic and former lead singer and song- writer of the punk rock band The Dead Kennedys, used every moment of his four-hour rant to comment on the current state of affairs in North American society. He lived up to his billing as an artist and an agitator.

Although the focus of the speech was to be his latest spoken word album Become the Media, Biafra delved deep into controversial issues like music and censorship, politics, the protest movement, privatization and the justice system.

First on the hit list was the U.S. Presidential election.

"It was hilarious–a typical Florida election, only this time they got caught," said Biafra. "I love to see how low the empire gets."

Biafra believes the low voter turnout was a result of a lack of choice between the two candidates.

"They should both join into one big ‘corporate’ party called the Republicrats" he said. "We should demand all our politicians plaster their bodies and suits with the corporate logos of all their sponsors, like race car drivers."

Also, Biafra has a few questions with respect to "King George II’s" new mandate for America.

"Bush and the right wing say that they believe in ‘family values’–does this mean that after your kids are born we won’t pay to educate them, but we’ll pay to execute them?" he asked. "Why do we teach the 10 commandments in school? We make our kids repeat over and over ‘thou shall not kill’ so they can graduate and become Marines and police officers and go kill people."

After the intermission, the focus of the talk shifted to the corporate control of the mass media. Biafra believes that we are being duped.

"NBC is owned by General Electric, which is one of the largest arms producers in the world," he said. "Should a military company have control over the content of the evening news?"

Biafra sees the corporate nature of the media as its inherent flaw.

"A poor little Cuban boy is the popstar of the summer–we can’t admit that there are poor people [on television]; that would hurt our advertising."

So what are we supposed to do about it? Biafra offers his solution.

"Don’t hate the media, become the media."

He believes the rise of independent media centres from the ashes of the WTO protest in Seattle are crucial to the public having access to the truth.

"Join the camcorder truth jihad. It’s easy–anyone can join. Spot police brutality or go to Mexico and [film] sweatshops and voila–you have become part of the truth jihad."