Dr. Dre and NWA were part of a music revolution. Now Dre finds himself on the receiving end of a different kind of revolt – the information age. Rap was world-shaking, but for all its rage against the machine, it was still part of the machine. There was hype, even as we were told Don’t Believe the Hype. There was misogyny, and there were beatings, even rape, all kept out of the public eye by managers and record companies.
Hiding bad behavior has become a lot harder to do.
Dr. Dre’s victims have come forward, each one made bolder by the next one’s story. They are able to do this because the media gatekeepers – like record companies and publicists – can’t stop them from posting to Twitter and Facebook. The media powers-that-be can’t police every blog. They can’t suppress every writer. At one time, we could believe that Coke is It. When a big company made a bold assertion, that made it true. Now we’ve learned that Coca-Cola is involved in a grand deception, paying scientists to say that we should worry less about cutting calories, simply exercise more to stay fit. Hillary Clinton thought she would set up a private server for her email and nobody would ever know. Bill Cosby, at one time the most trusted jello salesman in the country, drugged and raped women.
The words of the victims, particularly the victims of acts of aggression and rape, have a powerful connection to one another. When she spoke out, I knew I could speak out. They’ve told their story, now I’m telling mine. We are hearing the voices of individuals whipped by pixels and bits into a worldwide conversation.
It’s been said that rumors, by repetition and polishing, can take on the gleam of truth. We are going to need a different definition of truth, and of rumors. The rumor mill is not exclusively a negative thing, because individual voices are telling the truth about the world’s biggest lies. Individuals of little to no authority by the usual standards are becoming voices of authority by their ability to hear each other on social media, by amplification in number, and sometimes by shock value that can cut through the noise.
Those with the biggest megaphones, governments, corporations, PACs, wealthy political candidates, faceless media empires, real estate moguls who are lunatics (you know who you are, Donald), can no longer bend the truth to their own North. A gigantic self-correcting technology is now in play.