Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Art, Hipsters, and Cultural Production.

"Israel is luring international artists to Tel Aviv to advance a false claim to being a civilized democracy." Desmond Tutu

In the absence of social movements, critical masses, and revolutionary struggles, culture emerges as one of the most effective tools of silencing dissent.

The monopolization of cultural spaces such as film festivals, concerts, art galleries, and publications by an social economic class obsessed with maintaing the status quo produces art branded in a particular way.

Irrelevant, self obsessed, isolated works are heralded as masterful creations while more poignant and powerful pieces are dismissed as being too literal and immature. The existential elite love to wade in a cesspool of abstract asthma, where concepts touch each other for the sole purpose of sensual stimulation. At times, when questioning tyranny is trendy and safe, glimpses into counter culture are allowed, but not long enough to invoke a consciousness that would threaten the existing establishment.

In the world of contemporary cultural production, money is the most popularly used colour, the most recognized musical chord, and the most dominant writing style. The death sentence issued by capitalism to free thinkers, determined to use art as a vehicle for change, means that the sell out train is overcrowded with greedy talent. It also means that the means of producing and distributing art are painfully beyond the reach of those who need to express themselves the most.

From Hip Hop to Cinema, the consumption of historically radical content by apathetic racist youth over the years has caught the eye of large corporations bent on reaping profit off anything. The appropriation of critical art by the same companies that sell everything from cookies to cars has seen the emergence of sound posing as music and movements mistaken for film.

To support this newly found industry, two things have had to open. The systematic breeding of horrible artists, many of whom we are guilty of liking in the same way we like our favourite soft drug; numbing, neatly packaged, and conveniently found everywhere. Secondly, the culture industry has had to ensure the reproduction of infinite generations to consume all this horrendous art.

A particularly painful product has been the emergence of a relatively affluent consumerist bloc that is obsessed with romanticizing poverty and other people's struggles through their patterns of buying material goods. They are hipsters. First seen in the 1940s in the United States, young educated white Americans grabbed the radical might of Jazz and strangled it until it was nothing more than a whitewashed cocktail of cymbals, high hats, and trumpet blasts.

Today, hipsters pose as Kaffiyah clad vegan vultures that have the honour of being the single most important sector of society that has maintained the dominant system of manufacturing and selling culture as a means of oppression. And this applies to all the wealthy parts of the world. From the dehumanized neighbourhoods of Manhattan to the bourgeoisie bubbles of Beirut, mobs of privileged sheltered youth masquerade as militant minds, holding up images of Bob Marley and Chairman Mao on overpriced T Shirts as part of their comfortable part time resistance.

Their presence is specifically excruciating because of their take on and role in worldly affairs. To hipsters, East African food is good, but the colonization of Africa is none of their business, and in fact, might have never happened. In Hipsterville, the Sitar is a beautiful instrument, but any knowledge of it beyond how it looks from a distance, is just too much to handle in their busy schedule of consuming watered down Buddhism and other post colonial kitsch.

But, with hipsters, their racism is not just a passive byproduct of their ignorance. In the Arab world, messy haired maggots with differently branded shoes will regularly be caught in double speak between flowery praise for the rights of women and talking down to South Asian workers on the streets of the Gulf.

In the end, being cultured means being able to buy other people's culture and use it to uphold a system that oppresses those from which they appropriated their latest fad. In turn, most cultural institutions emerge as shopping centers that service this psychopathic derivative of colonialism.

Until next time, find a wall and write on it, and locate some canvas, and start a fight on it.


  1. hermanito

    good piece.

    two articles that I would submit that are pivotal in understanding the role of culture in both resistance and oppression.

  2. Very good post... I do like it a lot thanks. However, the same may be said on those who write poems, blog posts about resistance and lead virtual resistance :) The same also applies on conferences and events which may be made around the world... The same may be said on demonstrations as well... My point is that you are defining resistance and activism in a way (which I agree with) but then we dont have to undermine others who have a different definition no matter how inaccurate it may be...

    As a real resistance fighter in actual war about your efforts in the field of resistance and I think s/he may (or may not) end up writing a very similar post to this post...

    I certainly dont know anything about you so I dont want to assume anything...

    Was just sharing my thoughts

    Keep up the great posts

  3. Many thanks!!! The truth is helpful when it clearly cuts through a blatantly gross and hypocritical culture-industry. The privilege of ignorance steeped in escapism confounds me. Much appreciated post.

  4. Good post!

    Does invoke one to think about how they behave, and whether they are true or hypocritical in their actions