Quora Answer : Why does the media act like black celebrities are our leaders, especially rappers?
Celebrities have a lot of attention. Which makes them de facto leaders.
Well, if you think about it, rappers are basically oral story-tellers. Which is a very ancient tradition in human culture.
We've always valued story-tellers. But for many centuries, we've had a written and print culture. Only writing and printing scaled. So these mediums began to dominate the official thinking of our culture. We valued writers over orators.
However, with the invention of recording and broadcast technology in the 20th century, the pendulum started swinging back. We began to value and listen to "broadcasters" ... talking heads on radio and TV. The oral reasserted itself.
That continued for a few decades but for a while the high cost of getting on to radio and television meant that there were wealthy gatekeepers deciding who could speak to us.
Now the internet has removed the gatekeepers. Anyone can go on Twitter and YouTube and Instagram and TikTok etc. And these social media now accept audio and video and bring them to us as easily as they bring text. Writing and print have no advantage over speech and dance in the 21st century.
So, in this world, the oral storytellers are back with a vengeance. The immediacy, the tone of voice, the body language when we see them, the performance etc. These all attract and hold our attention.
The other fact of social media is that it is increasingly micro-chunked into small bite-sized pieces to fit onto our phone screens and into short burst on our feeds as we scroll through them.
That increasingly means that the story-tellers who can get a message across to a large number of people, in a small, easy to grasp and assimilate fragments of speech and music and movement, are those who capture most attention, and become "leaders"
Rather like Donald Trump, another successful example of this phenomenon, rappers are seen as having "authenticity". Now not authenticity as you might imagine it. We all know that rappers' lifestyles are "fake". (So is Donald Trump's) But the aspirations seem authentic in the sense they seem to match up with those of their audience.
People are not bothered that the kid doesn't own the gold-chains and the sports car. But they relate to the fact that the kid values and WANTS the gold-chains and the sports car. Because they do too. This gives the rapper / celebrity a kind of "ethos" (in sense used in the study of rhetoric) that engages the audience.
The rapper expresses the hunger that the audience have that other forms of communicators and other people held up as role-models don't seem to valorize or legitimate. Much as for fans of Donald Trump, he expresses a dissatisfaction with the modern world and desire to reassert an old fashioned order that other parts of the media and politics seem to reject and repress out of political correctness.
So "the media" (and you have to remember that "the media" are now us, on social media) hold up black rappers as leaders because they are leaders. They are the cutting edge story-tellers performing the desire that many many poor and disempowered people, of all races, have for wealth and status and sex and happiness. They represent the last flickers of an American dream that poor kids can get absurdly and embarrassingly rich.
In practice, the only people getting obscenely rich in the US already come from privileged backgrounds. And the rest of the media won't even pretend that a poor kid from the inner city can be successful.
But rappers will. They'll get on social media and tell you, through their words and videos and music and Instagram feeds etc. that poor kids from the inner city can still fulfil their dreams.
And that is why they are the leaders.