Case Study: Letter to the Free

Common is an Oscar and Grammy award winning hip/hop rap artist who wrote Letter to the Free as a soundtrack to The 13th – a documentary by Ava DuVernay named after the American 13th amendment (the abolition of slavery). His output is highly politicised, existing in the context of a variety of social and cultural movements aimed at raising awareness of racism and its effects in US society (e.g.: Black Lives Matter). Letter to the Free is a product which possesses cultural and social significance. It will invite comparison with other music videos allowing for an analysis of the contexts in which they are produced and consumed.

  • Q1:How can you apply the concept of Orientalism to Common’s Letter to the Free?
  • Q2: Can you apply Fanon’s 3 phase plan of action to this music video?
  • Q3: How is the audience called / addressed / hailed (interpellated)? Use examples from both the lyrics and the visual grammar (shot, edit, mise-en-scene) to show how audiences are drawn into a specific subject position / ideological framework?

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