The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious Writing The Spider Monkey - Issue One
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Spider Monkey

The Spider Monkey is pot - bellied, spider - limbed, worried - faced and independent. They have very long legs and tails and are extremely agile. In the tropical rainforest of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, they live in communities that can break into sub-groups of 3-4 individuals. Spider monkeys live in trees up to 35 metres above the ground. Probably only gibbons exceed spider monkeys in agility in the trees. Acrobatic and swift, spider monkeys move through the trees, with one arm stride covering up to 12 metres. They have a prehensile tail, which acts as a fifth limb, able to grasp objects or hold their entire body weight for long periods.
They eat fruit, nuts, seeds or leaves but they will take insects or small animals if they are readily available. Maturity is reached at around four years, with females coming into season every four weeks. Gestation is 7-8 months. Newborns cling to their mothers' abdomen and then travel on her back until independence. The average life span for a Spider monkey is around 20 years. They are closely related to the other monkeys in the family cebidae, including capuchins and howler monkeys.
They have been known to shake a vine occupied by a predator to cause them to fall. They have also been seen breaking off dead branches weighing nearly 5kg and dropping them on the predator.
Reasons for their decline include hunting for food by locals, the use of infants as pets, and habitat loss due to clearing of forests for agriculture and human habitation. They are vulnerable because they have low maturation and reproduction rates. Their habitat, mature rain forests, is being lost to farming at the rate of 35,000 acres a day. Preserving the rainforest in South America will help save them from extinction.


Rage Against the Machine and the Synergistic Media

Jeff Valois

Rage Against the Machine's "No Shelter" is an extremely powerful song with an equally powerful message. In an age where media giants control a majority of the news and entertainment that the public consumes, Rage Against the Machine's purpose was to fight back against the powers that be through their music. Not only did they provide a powerful message, but they also gave everyone who listened to their music outlets through which to take action.

The first half of the song's first stanza sets the tone for the entire song and has important meaning in itself:

The main attraction, distraction,
Got you number than number than numb.
Empty your pockets, son.
They got you thinking that,
What you need is what they sellin'.
Make you think that buyin' is rebellin'.
From theatres to malls on every shore,
The thin line between entertainment and war.
The front line is everywhere,
There be no shelter here.

The ideas in the first few lines of the song are similar to the theme of the Affluenza video. The companies advertising their clothes or other material goods make the consumers feel as though they need that particular product. Without it, the consumer is inferior. The advertising company may even turn the tables and make it seem as though their product stands for rebellion against corporate America. In fact, that very company is most likely owned by one of the media conglomerates.

One of the more thought provoking lines in the entire song comes from the refrain:

Cinema, simulated life; ill drama
Fourth Reich culture; Americana

The "Fourth Reich" phrase is in reference to Adolf Hitler's Third Reich Nazi regime. Before World War II, Hitler bombarded his German citizens with enough propaganda so that the majority of the people believed that what they were doing was justified. Rage Against the Machine's Zach de la Rocha compares this to the propaganda that American citizens get attacked with on a daily basis. It is not limited to the United States, however. These huge companies attempt to spread the American gospel throughout the world using similar tactics.

Like any high budget film, Godzilla, which carried a price tag of $125 million, was first heavily marketed as a movie. However, not far behind were Godzilla products such as books and toys as well as an enormous marketing campaign with Taco Bell. It seemed as though Godzilla was associated with every second product shown on television. The massive monster even made its way onto MTV in Puff Daddy's music video for Come with Me, which was also featured on the movie's soundtrack. It was nearly impossible to surf through the channels without coming across a commercial for some type of Godzilla product.

The irony here is not in the song itself, but rather where the song appears. It was not released on any of Rage Against the Machine's six albums, but rather on the movie soundtrack. It seems very contradictory that a song that takes such a powerful stand against the American marketing approach would appear on the soundtrack for such a heavily marketed American movie. While the movie and its products are being heavily promoted, marketed, and pushed into the American consciousness, one of the most popular songs on the soundtrack is taking a stand against that very marketing approach. "They fix the need, develop the taste. Buy the products or get laid to waste," the song says. It even mentions the movie itself in the line, "Godzilla, pure motherf*ckin' filler." Critical analysis may suggest that the lyrics convey the message that the movie has no substance to it.

Rage Against the Machine would not have appeared on this album had they not been signed to the Sony Music label, which is under the giant Sony Corporation umbrella. Not coincidentally, Godzilla was produced and distributed worldwide by Columbia Tri-Star, which is also a part of the Sony conglomerate. It is a common practice within the music and movie industries to fill movie soundtracks with artists and bands that are signed to labels owned by the same company that owns the production studio.

Also part of the Godzilla marketing blitz was a book published by Random House. Although Sony does not own Random House, there is still an obvious connection. Bartlesmann owns Random House and also owns a 50% stake in the BMG music label. Sony Corporation owns the other 50% (Columbia Journalism Review).

This is an excellent example of synergy, which happens more than the average consumer realizes with movie and television marketing. When a media conglomerate owns or has access to multiple media outlets such as movie production/distribution companies, record labels, book publishers, and other manufacturers, they are able to unload a marketing blitz and make money off of each and every item or product.

Disney is notorious for its synergy. With the massive amounts of media outlets to which they have access, even the most mediocre of Disney animated films can turn a profit. They are able to mass market the movie itself as well as the books, soundtracks, toys, clothing, and memorabilia to go along with the movie. The biggest difference between Disney and some other media giants, however, is that after they market all the products for a specific movie, they can then turn around and sell those products in their Disney Stores nationwide.

This systematic approach to selling products is far reaching. Commercialization has perhaps impacted the music industry more than any other. As Robert McChesney writes in his book, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, "The 1990s have seen a systematic rationalization of the commercialization of the music industry into every possible aspect of its operations" (pg. 36).

Today, popular music groups have become much more than just musicians. As McChesney refers to them, they are almost brands themselves. Bands with widespread popularity, such as the Spice Girls and 'N Sync are used to market products such as clothes, toys, school accessories, and even food bearing their names and images. "Increasingly, these hypercommercial activities are seen as mandatory for commercial success in the music industry," says McChesney (McChesney, 36).

Some musicians agree with media critics who hold commercialization responsible for the huge change that has occurred in the music industry. "Rock 'n' roll is great because it's the people's art, but it's not ours anymore. Right now, rock 'n' roll belongs to business. We don't even own it," Patti Smith, a singer, commented in 1997 (McChesney, 37).

The same commercialization forces have also taken radio hostage. Rather than DJs playing their own play list or whatever they feel is right for the mood as they did decades ago, they are locked into a preset list of songs. Neither the DJs nor station managers predetermine this list. It is the result of market research on the behalf of numerous consultants.

The entire music industry has changed at the hands of giant media conglomerates such as Time Warner, Disney, and Sony Corporation and as a result of deregulation. One company is allowed to own and run its own operation in any of all of the media outlets that it wants. This creates synergistic media environment that consumes us today.

As a result of the massive amount of corporate deregulation, it is rare to find a band able to be so outspoken on that very topic. That is part of what makes Rage Against the Machine's No Shelter such an important song. Not only was it musically appealing, but also the lyrics were greatly important both on the surface and even more so upon closer inspection.

Rage Against the Machine
"No Shelter"

The main attraction, distraction
Got you number than number than numb
Empty your pockets son
They got you thinkin' that
What you need is what they sellin'
Make you think that buyin' is rebellin'
From the theatres to malls on every shore
The thin line between entertainment and war
The front line is everywhere; there be no shelter here
Speilberg the nightmare works so push it far
Amistad was a whip; the truth was feathered and tarred
Memories erased and burned and scarred
Trade in your history for a VCR

Cinema simulated life; ill drama
Forth Reich culture; Americana
Chained to the seat, they got you searchin' for
The thin line between entertainment and war

There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere

Hospitals not profit full
But market bulls got pockets full
To advertise some hip disguise
View the world from American eyes
The poor adore keep fiendin' for more
The thin line between entertainment and war
They fix the need, develop the taste
Buy the product or get laid to waste
Coca-Cola was back in the veins of Saigon
And Rambo, too, he got a dope pair of Nikes on
Godzilla pure motherf*ckin' filler
Keep your eyes on the real killer

Cinema simulated life; ill drama
Forth Reich culture; Americana
Chained to the seat, they got you searchin' for
The thin line between entertainment and war

There be no shelter here; The front line is everywhere

American eyes; American eyes
View the world through American eyes
Bury the past; rob us blind
And leave nothin' behind

Just stare; Relive the nightmare

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