Living Colour – Cult of Personality

A “cult of personality” refers to a personalized form of power, charismatic authority. This is power based on a person’s special, hard to grasp qualities: people that somehow seem “better” than ordinary people, like prophets and saints; people that seem to speak directly the word of their God, even. This impression may be built up by the mass media. We may tend to follow and respect charismatic leaders because of who they are, but note that the term means more than someone with Hollywood good looks, or as well, someone with the biggest gun.

Funk metal band Living Colour, back in 1988, sang about and interspersed audio clips of various personable and influential leaders, both benign and malevolent: African American humans rights activist Malcolm X, American president John F. Kennedy, Italian socialist politician Benito Mussolini, Soviet Union General Secretary of the Communist Party Joseph Stalin and Indian nationalist Mohandas Ghandi…

Does it seem jarring to lump democratic leaders with thuggish dictators in one song?

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