Posted: November 22, 2011
interviewed by Chris Richards, Nov 2011
Giordano Nanni & Hugo Farrant have potentially created my favorite news show parody of all time. They provide intriguing political analysis and critique, all through hip-hop and raps done by the fictional online personality Robert Foster. The music is awesome, the analysis is awesome, the video production is awesome. All i can really say, is if you haven’t seen it, watch it now:
And for your reading pleasure, here is an interview with them!
Greetings, can you give us a brief explanation of who you are and what it is that you do?
We are Hugo Farrant and Giordano Nanni, co-writers and creators of ~TheJuiceMedia Rap News, an internet based topical musical comedy show broadcasting on our website, thejuicemedia.com and on the youtube channel, www.youtube.com/thejuicemedia. Based out of Melbourne, Australia, the show is primarily concerned with providing a satirical take on current events through the medium of a rap debate show. The most distinctive element of Rap News is that the entire news broadcast is carried out in rap; and all the characters in the show are impersonated by a single actor, Hugo Farrant, in a series of ever more ridiculous costumes. The principal character is the affable, gentle but determined anchorman, Robert Foster – the kind of anchorman we wish we had on the evening news; who upholds the ideals of free, morally upstanding media. A creature of the internet, Robert has already fast become a cherished and oft-quoted cyber-personality, one of his chief concerns being the preservation of the internet as a frequency for free speech and global communication. The show also features two other regular in-house characters who are even larger than life: the rabid Conspiracist hippie, Terrence Moonseed; and the flag-waving, trigger-happy Pentagon spokesperson, General Baxter (both played by Hugo). Rap News has also hosted real-life characters such as Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Rumsfeld, Julian Assange, Alex Jones, Berlusconi and Ron Paul (all, again, impersonated by Hugo). Regardless of status, gender or creed, all characters on Rap News are made to expound their point of view on a particular issue in the form of a rap battle against their ideological nemesis. The outcome of such encounters – as one might hope – is a sight to behold. A typical episode will generally see Robert Foster introducing a topic and inviting several guests onto the show to rap their opinions about it, allowing them to duke it out, and then stepping in to provide his take on the issue, normally by asking a series of pointed rhetorical questions to finish up. To date we have produced 9 episodes over two years, dealing with issues such as the Environment, Wikileaks, Revolutions, the murder of Osama Bin Laden, and lately the elusive state of the Economy. We operate mainly as a two man team on the project, sharing the creative and writing process and relying a lot on each other’s ideas to create an even blend of sound facts, dope rhymes and comedic content. We also have a number of associates who provide invaluable work in departments such as our graphic designer, Zoe Tame (from VisualTonic), and other talented peeps who do our make-up, costumes, music – and recently, animation.
What goals do you have for Rap News and its impact on the world?
We created the show with the objective of encouraging our fellow humans to take an active interest in world events, and become participants in the interesting times in which we live. As the show’s tagline says: ‘history is happening’. Rap News brings a different perspective to world events, using comedy, rhymes and biting political commentary to distill, demystify and question some of the most pressing issues of our day, from War and Propaganda, to Conspiracy Theory, the Environment, the Media – and the whole human experiment in general. We don’t try to school our audience however; we believe that there are many people out there who already know or feel the same things we do. We are just letting them know, ‘hey, you’re not alone!’ In view of this, our primary goal for Rap News is to keep creating the absolute best content we possibly can, keep pushing the boundaries and expanding our skill set, and keep people’s heads nodding to the beat, even as they shake it in disbelief. We would absolutely love to arrange lives and realities so that Rap News could be a full time project, and that we could respond more rapidly to events as they happen. As for the impact of the project on the world, we are taking it as it comes. However, we strongly feel that with increasing connectivity of the world, as evinced by global communications and the like, there may be some truth to this idea that 2012 could be a momentous year for humanity. Whether this is due to some mystical or geological causes, it’s impossible to say, but with so much attention focused on one time, with the idea that massive change will occur, surely this represents an opportunity for something to happen! Of course, it’s all dependent on people participating in it (even Jesus and the galactic federation will feel pretty discouraged if they materialise to find a bunch of lay-abouts). So we would love to use our show to contribute to building the participation levels of the populace of this new internet nation. That’s a lofty goal, but we’ll see how it goes.
What first led you to the decision to utilize your gifts as a tool for expressing your personal views on social and political issues?
If by “gifts” we are talking about our ability to use words and music to express our views, the initial spark was probably provided by the pleasure which we gained from listening to some of the awesome thinkers, talkers, musicians, poets, artists, writers and comedians from whom we learnt so much over the years – people who have used their art to incredible effect in order to question social and political trends, and sometimes even fundamental aspects of our culture.
Perhaps the rest was out of necessity for in order to pose some of the most pertinent and necessary questions about our culture and ways of life we often need to transcend the boundaries of discourse which prevail in the fields of academia, journalism, and politics, etc. Hugo and Giordano both came to these realisations separately. While working as an academic historian, Giordano found that there’s a lot that you simply can’t say when writing an article for a peer-reviewed journal, or within the confines of an academic essay. Upon entering the world of art, he found that it also has certain limits, but that those limits are less defined; in fact, if the art is based on a sound foundation, they can even be pushed. Meanwhile, Hugo, as a budding rap artist through the noughties, was hopeful that he would find a use for his nascent skills that would exceed his own non-academic, somewhat Moonseedian perspective. On meeting Giordano and hearing his elaborate rants on the nature of geo-political and colonial history, it was pretty clear that this stuff would make for some awesome Rap verses. Eventually combining these paradigms in this project, we have managed to bridge several areas of the artistic and academic spheres at the same time. Near the beginning of the project, hopes and visions notwithstanding, it was impossible to predict that this idea would be a useful tool for effecting global reach. But the results of the early episodes in terms of reception and creative pleasure were incredible, and therefore led to more episodes, and the building of an ever more solid partnership. Being able to engage with as many of the aspects of the cultural memesphere as we feel like, and indulge any obscure rap or comedic whim we deem appropriate, all the while posing unasked questions not just of politics, but of this entire civilisation itself, is an amazing privilege, and one which we are honoured to use to its fullest. But more importantly, as we said before, we are just huge music and comedy fans, so, ultimately, the decision to utilize art and music to get our views out was probably determined as much by our love of the medium as by necessity.
What place does art, media, and creativity have within building a resistance movement?
We’re no experts in building a resistance movement, but we suspect that art, media and creativity play an absolutely vital role. Independent media is like the artery that carries the information juices from one place to the other, linking people on the frontlines (whether they be battling harpoons on the high seas or defending ancient trees up on tree platforms) with their supporters in HQ – whether they be community radio stations or a youtube channel in some suburban home. We have a huge respect for the people who relay and upload that information to the rest of the world – they help paint a clearer picture of wtf is going on around the globe. It is worth noting that one of the most powerful tools of media communication the world has ever known – television – has been thoroughly appropriated by corporate power structures; and it’s unlikely that we will be able to turn TV into an open and democratic channel of information in the near future. But what we can create, use and nurture, are alternative channels of information – such as the internet. Without a doubt, one of the key strategic battles of the 21st century will be over the control of the internet, which is fast becoming the information lifeline for hundreds of millions of people around the world, and thereby also a direct threat to established power which relies on the control and centralization of information. 2010 and 2011 have been the years of cyber-revolutions: we’ve seen the effect of Wikileaks, the Arab Spring, Anonymous and #OccupyWallStreet, and hopefully this is only the beginning. Well, if the media is the technological bloodline of a resistance movement, art and creativity are its spirit and soul. Surely, if we want to plot a new path and story for the world it will need a head-bopping soundtrack to go along with it. The imaginative and clever use of images, culture-jamming, subvertising, street art, theatre, film – all these forms of activity, especially when deployed with hefty doses of wit, technique and dedication, have the power to move hearts and minds. Beautiful art and creativity nourish people, inspire movements, replenish energies, feed the brain, warm the heart and – when combined and channeled through a strong and independent media – keep the world sane. So, yeah, they have a pretty important place, in our view.
Do you feel that using your art for social and political purposes has been successful? Howso?
We feel successful in the sense that we have managed to make headway into a brand new medium, carve out a pretty good niche and get across some sizeable chunks of the overall message of ~thejuicemedia in the process. There have undoubtedly been successes during this journey. The creation of each of the episodes feels very much like a victory unto itself given the amount of energy we put into them, both in pre- and post-production. As for how successful we have been in using our art for social and political purposes, that is another matter entirely, and we’re not sure we should be the ones to judge. We have received really great feedback via emails and youtube comments, from people saying that they appreciate the efforts we have put into highlighting important issues and perspectives, that they felt inspired to become more informed and engaged in the world around them because of the show. If that’s the case for even a small fraction of the people who have watched the show, then we would certainly count that as a success.
How important do you feel it is for artists or writers to communicate and discuss these topics and themes through art as opposed to spending time directly involved in a resistance movement? Can you do both?
Again, we’d feel that advising participants in any given movement would be pretty far outside of our remit. Nevertheless, the balance as we’ve struck it has been to commit far more time to the creative endeavour than to directly involving ourselves in resistance movements per se. We’ve recycled some of the funds from the project by donating to causes that we felt required support – like thepinkyshow, submediatv, and the peeps who run the Livestream feed from #OccupyWallSt, Globalrevolution – and we have used the platform of our show to express support for figures that we have deemed worthy (sometimes hidden under the satire a little too well for many of our more casual viewers). In terms of being able to do both, it is certainly possible, but we would probably argue that it is impossible to add a third element to that mix – full-time work – and we look forward to the day when we can get rid of that particular shackle, in order to answer your question from the vantage point of personal experience.
Is there any hope for success?
Meh… It’s funny, maybe one of the most significant cultural effects of the Obama era has been to make people distrust the word ‘hope’. Can we ever feel the same about that word again?! Perhaps we need to think less about hope for success than about the desire for it. It’s a simple question that we, as a species need to ask ourselves: do we want to stick around on this planet, and perhaps, one day, travel to others? If so, we’d better get our shit together and start showing that we deserve the privilege of being here. Hope, in this sense, is not a helpful tool; because success will probably be determined solely by our ability to become collectively aware and responsive to the massive challenges that face us, and lie ahead of us. To sit back and hope is exactly what we can’t afford to do right now. Hope is the last alternative. We hope that we’re not at that stage yet.
Giordano & Hugo.
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