…We just call it a blockbuster now.
“B-movie” (1981, off Reflections) has always been my favourite Gil Scott-Heron track, far more so than his most well-known “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1971, off Pieces of a Man), which now has lost it’s spark in any case through far too many ironic, counter-ironic and mangled quotations and misinterpretations. Obama’s election to presidency of the USA, for instance, led to many people saying that, finally, the revolution was being televised, trying to show they are hip to Gil Scott-Heron but taking a dig at him – his song had finally lost its ostensible analytical edge. Few paused to think that the famous line really means that if it is televised, it is not a revolution. Which is really what the song, as analysis of the entertainment industry, is saying.
Anyway, back to “B-movie”. I like it because it is longer than the other track, thereby giving up more of Gil Scott-Heron’s voice. How can one resist that voice…
It also comes a decade after “Revolution…” and Scott-Heron is far more mature. Whereas “Revolution” was all breathless in line upon line of the same satirical bent – “The Revolution will not be X; the revolution will not be Y… No, the revolution will not be televised…”, “B-movie” leavens the satire by basing it on political, economic and cultural analysis that stretches beyond the entertainment industry, while seeing the role of the entertainment industry in manufacturing and maintaining Reaganite hegemony.
As rap it is really a prose poem, rendered in a laid-back style. It is a laid-back soapbox rant, it is a sustained ‘schooling’, by a voice with authority, charm and wit. Check it, as well as “Winter in America”, another favourite:
Winter in America