My intention is to juxtapose the concept of social justice, as advocated by Marin Luther King versus that proposed by Glenn Beck. I also wish to demonstrate that the legacy of Martin Luther King is contested. Earlier this year, Beck attempted to appropriate the legacy of the civil rights movement and articulate it to a reactionary, conservative faux-populism, with his March to Restore Honor rally held at the The MLK memorial in Washington DC. I wish to challenge the continuity between King and Beck, and in fact, demonstrate the fundamental antagonism of Beck towards King’s underlying vision of a just society.
The original footage is of MLK, his final speech before assassination. Through running the tape in slow motion, and backwards, i am attempting to illumine that it is not king himself who is speaking, but the film maker. That his image is manipulable. The audio track running over the top is from a different speech, entitled Beyond Vietnam, in which King puts forth a critique of social injustice, quite radical, which is at odds with his hallmark-like “i have a dream” speech, which is more acceptable and useful to the status quo power arrangement, social, economic and political.
The intervention of Beck critiques the very notions which King is discussing. He attacks progressives, their “perverting” of the meaning of social justice, which is of course the exact position held by King himself.
I am attempting to demonstrate a war over meaning, and legacy.
The frame of king being seated after speaking is looped, 4 times. It appears to me that King near collapses from emotional exhaustion into his chair, and is helped to sit by a colleague. We know that this is his last public appearance before death. By running it in reverse, it appears that King collapses into his associates arms, but is then lifted back up. Collapses. Lifted back up. For me, this represents our political willingness to not leave King’s legacy to speak for itself, we keep pulling it (and him) out of his grave for our own political necessity.
The final segment asks, ‘who are these people?” in reference to a clip of protestors. I then flash to a flyer from ‘Occupy Los Angeles,’ a group i am helping to organize and am associated with. The idea is to connect king’s legacy with our movement, to reclaim his legacy, as a movement he himself would support, as opposed to Beck’s vision.
Tim, Glad I found these. I’n not sure the comments is the best place to comment on your own work (more like where people respond to you). Many people won’t look this deep and your words are a thoughtful addition to the piece. I do believe that you do demonstrate “a war over meaning and legacy,” as you say, but in this version, some of that war is highly structured (four times collapsing and reviving) and then sometimes less so, with a push and pull that is not fully clear to me. While I love the idea of the manipulation of a figure-head, I wonder if there is any self-indictment in your use of him, or a discussion of his manipulation, before a flyer of your event. In this sense, Tamara’s piece quickly comes to mind. I am impressed with the complex formal ideas that structure this piece and look forward to your ongoing refinement of this vocabulary in pursuit of a form of political representation that relies upon history (wihtout? with less? with clear?) manipulation.
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