The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

A prophecy from the prolific Gil-Scott Heron deciphered for the events of today

Joshua Edward
7 min readSep 4, 2020


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Oftentimes used as a famous catchphrase or a hook in several rap songs or movies, the infamously prophetic poem turned song that was written by the extraordinarily influential and undercelebrated poet and musician Gil-Scott Heron, is now playing out in real-time.

As a kid, I probably heard the words “the revolution will not be televised” at least 100 times, as a joke, at parties, or as a summation of a semi-deep discussion amongst adults who were under the influence of alcohol.

Today, these words are no longer just a slogan for social capital, and I am now wondering if Heron actually gave us a crucial indicator as to when events will no longer be contained, and instead become truly revolutionary.

Today, the extraordinary events taking place across America are still being recorded on Twitter, YouTube, and the multitude of media news outlets around the world, all of whom depend on advertising revenue for their lifeblood. But none of this reporting is real, and only serves to sustain an emotional disconnect from the reality of what is actually unfolding.

But Heron warned us. He told us that after a certain point, the fake world will become the real world, and at that point, no one will be able to escape.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre
And will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because
The revolution will not be televised, brother

Just as George Orwell complained about British society continuing to promote consumerism while simultaneously fighting Nazis, Heron saw the absurdity in believing that a true socio-cultural revolution could occur while the mainstream media continued to prop up capitalism. In 1940's Great Britain, despite daily bombings and thousands being routinely killed, the message to citizens was:

Buy stockings and lipstick, don’t stay home, keep the economy going!



Joshua Edward