Big Brother Is Still Watching You

Hip Hop Satire in Defence of the Web

Graphic Paku Daoust-Cloutier
Rap News tell the word about what matters to them through hip-hop satire.

Without a single hack, leak or whistle blown, the guys from Juice Media are throwing up their fists, or at least their words, to fight for what they consider our greatest tool—the Internet.

Juice Rap News is an in-your-face, off-beat, hip-hop news channel parody aired over YouTube to a constantly expanding audience, co-produced by Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant from their backyard studio in Melbourne, Australia.

Using hip hop and video to breach a wide range of topics from the global economy, indigenous issues, Kony 2012, Wikileaks and global politics, the guys of Rap News keep the issues of Internet security, online democracy and freedom of information on the forefront of their fight to inform. Some heavy subjects made not only easier to understand, but infinitely more watchable with the liberal usage of silly costumes and well-timed rap verses.

“We really want to contribute to making the Internet a better place by contributing what we regard as valuable content towards this global discussion,” said Nanni.

While Nanni works mostly behind the scenes to write, edit and mold the message behind the show, Farrant creates the rap, the flow and acts out each erratic character on the program, including host Robert Foster, a fictional Internet anchorman and rhythmic mediator behind each Rap News episode.

“We’ve tried to act as defenders of the Internet, and Robert Foster is very much an Internet character,” said Nanni. “In many ways this is sort of Robert defending the very medium that has permitted him to exist.”

The most recent episode, titled “Big Brother Is WWWatching You” delves into the storm of information surrounding the current state of international spying, global intelligence and online surveillance—all the while employing a chain-smoking George Orwell and a foul-mouthed general from the “Pentopticon” to deliver the message.

“We decided to run with this sort of literary satirical crossover,” said Farrant. “We wanted to pay our respects to George Orwell, the master satirist, but also resurrect the warning shot that he fired in the 20th century—we wanted to fire it again in the 21st.

“We wanted to make the fundamental point that tools do exist nowadays which can permit you to fight against Big Brother and the threats to our rights.”

Orwell, played by Nanni, joins the video for a live broadcast via the “Juice Channeling Portal” to deliver a direct and foreboding warning.

“An open and universal Internet is the most effective tool you have to address the issue that afflict the world at hand,” raps the re-imagined Orwell, who later refers to himself as “Torwell” in reference to the anonymity network Tor. “Therefore, protecting it is the most essential task that stands before your generation.”

Orwell’s message comes from concerns that spurred the guys of Rap News to begin this project in the first place.

“The Internet has only been around for a few years, but people already take it for granted, as if we’ve always had it and we’ll always have it, and we may as well not care or worry about it,” said Nanni.

“But humanity has to recognize it for what it is–an incredible window of opportunity that has only just opened, and if it shuts it could really leave us in the dark.”

For more info and updates on JuiceMedia, check out their website.