The Internet has shaped the music industry in a number of ways and the whole point of Binary Beats is to show you how it has shaped it. My favourite is when the Internet is used to create awareness about something and something is actually done. When music is put into the mix… well… that’s when the whole game is changed and activism changes its whole methodology.
Jhatkaa, a new campaigning organisation “committed to building grassroots citizen power across India in effective and innovative ways enabling people ro as the tipping point on an issue” uses its website as an activism tool and its biggest activism campaign is “Kodaikanal Won’t” which is, supposedly, also a music video.
The organisation one-upped activism as we know it by releasing a music video MC’d by Sofia Ashraf using Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” which detailed how Unilever had contaminated Kodaikanal, a hill station in Southern India, with inadequately disposed mercury.
This lead to a number of factory workers from their thermometer factory suffered from illness due to the exposure (some even dying) and the soil in the area also becoming contaminated after broken glass thermometers with remains of Mercury which are believed to be the company’s were unearthed in a nearby forest.
The music video, which now holds 3.8 million views on YouTube raised worldwide awareness and viewers were asked to sign an online petition to show their support and it worked! In March 2016, Unilever agreed to compensate 591 ex-workers in Kondaikanal who were poisoned by the mercury left behind by the company in order to allow them to “repay past debts, meet medical expenses and finally start rebuilding their lives”, as stated in the website’s press release.
Seeing how well this worked, the organisation has now released a second and final petition requiring that Unilever clean up the mercury contamination in the Kodaikanal area as soon as possible. One music video, shared to the whole world through the Internet made it possible for people to reclaim their rights and their dignity and bring some progress to the 15-year old case.
The use of activism in the form of websites, music videos and online petitions all shared on the Internet reveals how activism is no more about protesting in streets and staging walk-ins and sit-ins (things that can only be participated by people in the immediate surroundings), but gives people from all over the world the power to make a difference just by sitting in front of a screen.
We no longer have to rely on screaming out slogans, but can rely on the power of the sharing on social media and through countless digital networks that exist on the Internet. Introducing music into the mix forms a different digital sphere that alters the activism industry and music industry.
The YouTube and online petition success of “Kodaikanal Won’t” aided by the sharing power of the Internet proves how multiple industries can form relations that can work together to create success.
The Internet has found a way to combine activism and music in a way that is making a difference and it is the successes of some campaigns that gives other campaigns the hope that they too will be the change that they see on the Internet.