In a packed theatre hall in central London, Gary Flavell, editor of media outfit Exposure, is nervously introducing his companies film ‘Revolution 2.0’. He has had to follow, to his clear awe and chagrin, a short film about Martin Luther King’s speech at the University of Newcastle after they bestowed the iconic civil rights leader with an honorary diploma. Revolution 2.0 is premiering as part of the Journey to Justice campaigns launch party, an evening of ‘music, dance and drama’ that pays homage to the civil rights struggles in America and its similarities to social protests in the United Kingdom.

Flavell speaks eloquently of the need for a ‘change of the mind’ to battle an unfair and often corrupt system. In order to challenge this order, he says, ordinary people must give their energy and time to constantly question what is right. His inspiration, and clearly the inspiration for the video, is Gil Scott-Heron’s poem ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, written in the 1960’s. Performed as both a song and a poem, the lyrics address the inability of media and consumerist culture to enable the shift in attitude that could create social progress.

The film itself uses a version of the poem, updated with the requisite One Direction and X Factor references, to present a frenzied, off beat montage of protests and riots from around the world. A white clad figure stands in front of the images, reeling off the lines on top of a hip-hop soundtrack, voice rising in volume and body jerking along to the music. The 2014 version of the poem talks of the Iraq War, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, clearly aiming to show the audience how individuals are challenging the status quo. According to Exposure, the revolution will put the ordinary man in the ‘drivers seat’, part of a mass movement against the opposition. Who this enemy is was not addressed directly, but one assumes that autocratic and opressive governments, corrupt financial systems and unfair social practices are all targeted by Exposure in its pursuit of justice.

Whilst I applaud the presentation and ideas of the Revolution 2.0 video, it is somewhat representative of our hyper-digitalised culture that the idea behind a poem titled The Revolution Will Not be Televised’ is being encourage by a viral video. If, as the clip states, the ‘revolution will be live’, why make a stylized and artistic video to promote it? Is that not inherently counterproductive?

Or is short, digestible viral marketing now the only way that social movements and ideas can be progressed? The final frame of the film asks what role the audience will play in the ‘Journey to Justice’. Exposure is clearly hoping to create some discussion around the idea of challenging the system, and such a crusade is an admirable one. However, whether it actually changes something remains to be seen. Exposure must expand on its ideas of a mass shift in attitude and ideas, or else this provocative video will fade into the digital background along with other calls to action.

 

See the teaser trailer for ‘Revolution 2.0’ here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAZvfqgD2cc

For more information on Exposure and its work, look here:

http://exposure.org.uk