Barack Obama And The Return Of The Hooded Figure Factor

A new generation of Americans

January 31, 2008 in U. S. Politics | Comments (0)

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The Eminem video of “Mosh,” which made it’s unscheduled early appearance on the internet just before the election, is a call for born-once Americans of all colors to unify, to fight, to march, and also, incongruously, to vote against George W. Bush. It took me way back to the early days of Vietnam and the impact of music like Bob Dylan’s “With God On Our Side.” It is portentous.

I saw a religious suggestion in the “Mosh” video, reminding that Karl Rove and the Evangelical Republicans don’t have a monopoly on Judeo-Christian values. The animators filled the last half with an increasing number of black-hooded figures. They’re not grim, not death, not shadowy, not Klan, not Abu Ghraib. They are monastic.

They are angry. They are politically motivated. They are gathering, marching, protesting. The first hooded figure is the rapper himself, saying: “Come along / Follow me / As I lead / Through the darkness.”

I know: kids wear hooded sweatshirts all the time, and the style is entirely secular. A hooded sweatshirt is a cheap way to keep warm. But in places like New York City, it keeps you safe. I mean, the hunched figure walking on the street in a hooded sweatshirt might be a white girl or a black man. The fashion is an equalizer, a real-life symbol of the new impoverished generation, and that’s it’s effect in this powerful video.
But for me it also had a religious expression. Maybe that’s because I happen to love the Benedictine monastery of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico, where the monks dress like that. They are not born-again evangelical Protestants. No way.

There is a significant difference. Monks, whether they be Christians in hooded gray robes or shaved-clean Buddhists in saffron robes, give up their worldly identities. The evangelicals do not. The born-agains are of this world, and it’s a family values world.

Significantly, you’ll notice there’s a family in the “Mosh” video – father, mother, two little kids. But the father is a soldier, who comes home to a notice that he’s been reassigned to Iraq, and the mother receives an eviction notice. They join with the hooded figures, marching toward a building that looks like the Supreme Court of the United States. Then, suddenly, they form a line up the steps to sign their names in a book. And the video ends with a message: “Vote November 2.”