“You are what you eat” – grumpiness galore and “radical chic”

“If you are what you eat, I’m sweet”
Nation of Ulysses

What a sad Saturday night. I can’t be bothered going out although there would be so many nice parties to go to. My period sniped and kicked me into a weekend of catatonia. I will never get used to this. Also it’s bloody cold outside and I feel misanthropic. Of course this has to happen on the Saturday with the worst tv program e.v.e.r. Oh my. I’m all immobile and antsy at the same time and far too twisted to concentrate on reading. Anyway…..

The weirdest thing to read I came across today is an essay on M.I.A.’s terrorist chic. Actually the essay wasn’t that weird but that it is posted on a Guns’n’Roses messageboard somehow seems wrong. Here’s the introduction to give you an impression, you can read the whole essay here:

“Terrorist chic is the reconfiguration of terrorist iconography and aesthetics into commodities for consumption. It is becoming increasingly pervasive from the hooded sweatshirts of Anticon to the reappropriation of Hamas kaffiyehs by hip hop’s fashion elite. My aim with this essay is to challenge the idea that terrorist chic always operates to transform terrorist symbols and narratives into empty signifiers for consumption, through an analysis of the pop star MIA. […] In the first section of this essay, I will argue that MIA’s terrorist chic is a legitimate strategy for engendering a revolutionary politics from within commodity culture. In the second section, I will argue that MIA deterritorialises her own terrorist body and in doing so, transgresses the cultural/regional/political borders that prevent radical becomings. I will be discussing MIA as a machine in the Guattarian/Deleuzian sense. MIA as a machine is a cultural assemblage, the consumption of which brings MIA into the process of productivity production even as exterior elements define what the MIA machine is.”
And also from that board  –  I guess those GNR fans had lots of time to discuss other things while they were waiting for ‘chinese democracy’  –  comes this bit from an interview with Bruce La Bruce about his Raspberry Reich movie in which he tackles ‘radical chic’. (BTW That movie always reminded me of Stewart Home novels like Defiant Pose or Slow Death):

“Why did you decide to tackle the Radical Chic theme? When did you develop an interest in that?

Radical Chic has always interested me, ever since I took a course in university called Protest Literature and Movements. Part of the appeal of all the early equal rights movements – feminist, gay, black – was that they understood the importance of adopting a militant image and rhetoric that was both intriguing to the media and also politically charged, alluding to the kind of Marxist-based guerilla insurgencies that were happening in Latin America in that era. But the problem with working within the capitalist system by making these radical political movements alluring and even sexy is that it plays into what Marx called commodity fetishism.

Eventually each of these movements was subsumed and co-opted by the corporate media to the point where you have someone like Madonna manufacturing reputedly radical images of guerilla insurgency to sell millions of records, and the image of Che Guevera becoming a capitalist, sexual icon in the order of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. The political substance of these radical images has been excised, resulting in a set of empty signifiers which can only be seen as an aspect of fashion or style.

I think that’s the biggest problem facing any new radical political movement today, is to figure out how to avoid the co-optive powers of the media and make a sexy insurgency without succumbing to the merely cosmetic realm of radical chic. Nonetheless, you can now order the new Raspberry Reich t-shirts at www.brucelabruce.com featuring six sexy slogans: The Revolution is My Boyfriend, Join The Homosexual Intifada, Put Your Marxism Where Your Mouth Is, Heterosexuality Is The Opiate Of The Masses, Madonna Is Counterrevolutionary, and Corporate Hip Hop Is Counterrevolutionary.”

The whole interview is worth a read, check it out here.

Right now I’m too numb and tired to voice any thoughts but while I’m gathering pieces about this subject: There was this movie called ‘Get Rid Of Yourself’ that dealt with black block / radical chic/lifestyle etc. in the Genoa 2001 protests. Here‘s the movie for watching & downloading. Here‘s an introduction to it on the maker’s website, Bernadette Corporation. And here‘s another text about them and their understanding of art (this one’s in german).Also in german: Dieter Diederichsen picking up this movie when he gives a kind of history of fashion and dissociation and protest culture here.

Now I’ll simply give up on this stupid day, have a hot chocolate with arrak and some aspirin and go to bed. Nighty night everyone. Hope you have a better weekend. Meh.

PS.: I think I haven’t mentioned here yet: There’s a live recording of the first (and not the best I’m afraid) one and a half hours of my set at the Heilige Liga in December. You can get it from the Heilige Liga myspace.

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