Elvis Presley and the society of hate
"The so-called 'King' is a poor hero"
Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother f___ him and John Wayne.
- Public Enemy, "Fight the Power"
A distant relative of mine went to see the very last Elvis Presley concert, which was held in June 1977 at Market Square Arena. From all accounts, it was a travesty of a show. Elvis was fat, half-dead, bloated and sweating, tossing soaked scarves into the audience, walking through cruel parodies of his songs.
Nevertheless, the distant relative said it was like being in the presence of a great man, an almost holy man. Other people just saw an overweight drug addict in his last, most pathetic performance.
A few months later, Elvis died a junkie's death, all alone, like junkies before and since. Yet he is a hero.
That's one thing I've never figured out. When black rappers like Chuck D. or 2Pac become famous, it scares a lot of white folk. Even Minister Louis Farrakhan, a true holy man, is seen as a threat. But look at the heroes of some of us Caucasians.
In some circles, the cops who beat the hell out of Rodney King are heroes. Some people would have been happier if they'd killed him. To some sick people, James Earl Ray, the killer of Martin Luther King, is a hero.
In some parts of town last week, Elvis Presley's birthday was celebrated as if it was a holy day.
Along with J. Edgar Hoover, a fellow sexual deviate and drug abuser, Presley has come to symbolize pure and absolute corruption. In Elvis' case, he did it up Vegas style. All that is bad about America has its fulfillment in Presley. I've got a reason to believe we all won't be received at Graceland.
There has never been a worse role model in America than Elvis Presley. A fat, bloated drug addict who took every drug in the Physician's Desk Reference and ate every piece of fried food he saw, he died for the sins of two generations of racist Americans.
He sold himself, his beliefs and his talents to a two-bit huckster, drained the passion from his music and became a puppet for Vegas sleaze-oids. His career was the definition of "sell-out" and "prostitution."
Like Brando in On the Waterfront, Elvis coulda been somebody. He could have used his celebrity like John Lennon or Bob Dylan did, for a positive purpose. He could have done much to bridge the gap of understanding between blacks and whites by teaming up with somebody like Ray Charles or James Brown.
But he didn't. He bought Cadillacs, shot at TVs with shotguns and took bottles of pills at a time. What a waste. If Elvis was alive today, he'd be dead, because he was a junkie and junkies die. That's a rule that has been true for 2,000 years or so.
Point blank, Elvis, our so-called "King," stole most everything he knew from black people and black culture, just as America itself became rich and prosperous through the use of slave labor. King Cotton and all that.
But since he was what they used to call a "gentleman Southerner," Elvis had a guilty conscience. Not enough, mind you, to actually stop him from being a racist, just enough to keep him sleepless most nights.
That's why Elvis is popular to this day. We like to feel a little guilty, but not too much ‹ the guilt of the plantation owner. Elvis owned him a big plantation, built on the back of the blacks.
You read old books and you see accounts of how the Indians were massacred, how Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II, and you can see why 50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong.
America has participated in genocide against certain people for more than 400 years if you check. That's murder now matter how you look at it. We've destroyed entire cultures, captured and enslaved groups of people of all colors and even unleashed radiation on our own people. So should it be any surprise that instant karma has hit us and knocked us in the head?
It's the Hate That Taught Hate, or, What Comes Around Goes Around. If you don't understand that there's still blood on our hands, and that we have to account for the past as we move into the future, then you're behind the times and you'll end up on the losing side in this one.
The rebellions in Los Angeles in 1992 weren't isolated incidents. There's a new kind of music out there, a kind Elvis wouldn't understand. It's the New Horn Beat. The horns blare out of cars, wail out of sirens, boom out of speakers. They explode out of guns. It's a kind of music that's different from the old school, the way guys in the ¹60s and '70s acted.
People are much more violent now. People won't take it anymore. The cities are due to explode again next summer, and both sides seem to be getting ready.
Elvis will not be a factor in the outcome.
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