Reconciling what it meant to be an anti-capitalist living in the Modern West, and especially America, has been a definitive time in my life (it has taken a while). As an artist, capitalism represents a severe form of exchange: something completely human (an idea expressed creatively) in exchange for something completely inhuman (money). Most workers are asked for at least one of their own, and most important, natural resources: time.
American capitalism has distilled itself into the essence of identity. What children study, what they are pressured to choose early on in life, what they are inundated by through young adulthood, are all social pressures based on the influence of money and not a personal truth. So while plenty of people build successful lives around these constructs, raise families of their own and the like, an emptiness remains among what was promised: Is this it?
Money will always interfere with quests for truth because it is a falsehood. It is a wholly invented and controlled yet singularly universal system of exchange. Deep down everybody knows this at some level (other maniacal institutions like organized religion tend to at least impress the dangers of gold, but usually it’s the wizard stories that attract an audience). It is not a natural phenomenon but we let it control the wonders and possibilities of our world. Money dictates the fate of all and for many it is the least but most important part of that life.
The argument for capitalism and globalism is that it stopped world war. However the tertiary wars fought by the Russians and Americans in the Middle East are just as destructive; they’re just easier to ignore. (Not to mention the irony of bin Laden’s CIA training and that these ‘off-site’ conflicts have now brought the world to a terrifying precipice of control.)
As capitalism threatens to destabilize western democracy – at which point I wholly imagine large, recognizably stable corporations to become ‘safe spaces’ and eventually ensure a global corporate state – it’s driving most of America mad. And I think it’s because everybody at some level understands the great lie that exists under all this horror; that somehow we sold our souls for this, long ago, and probably never had an option otherwise, and all that collective negative energy of feeling restricted by such a fabrication is beginning to show some teeth.
I may have changed my mind on Twitter. Since the service debuted I’ve been vehemently against it, because who really gives a fuck about 140 characters.
Now though, I’m beginning to realize why it’s poignant. There’s just no point to writing out extended blog or Medium posts. Discourse and any sensibility in logical, extended arguments are self-indulgent in this day and age. I don’t know many people in this fight willing to change; however I have noticed how many are confused by trying to figure out which side they are on.
Donald Trump has been useful for one thing, and that is showing who actually has personal conviction and who simply adheres to what their side of the media lines tell them. Those of us on the left who are anti-war find themselves aligned with Trump supporters on staying out of Syria, much the way there was an alignment against the TPP. This isn’t left and right as neoliberal America would define it so much as it’s anti-capitalists and anti-globalists finding similar ground. If Congress had more than two parties, this is where dealmaking would happen and governing would get done; differing ideologies need not be opposed at all sides.
But that just seems too complex for now. Class war is in full effect. It’s the capitalists vs the anti-capitalists for the allegiance of the middle; it will all come down to which side those who are too lazy to choose one are willing to die for. Fucked.
Marshall McLuhan called advertising corporate art. While he’s not wrong, I think his early views of advertising were based in an era where the ad remained a promotion of a product. Products in most ads these days are at least second to brand narrative.1 Enter the Fearless Girl, an abhorrent piece of corporate propaganda which has taken the concept of advertising to an entirely new level of cynicism.
Cara Sheffler did a great job pointing out why the work is an insult to feminism, not a promotion of it. Things being equal between the sexes and all, it’s also pretty bad at a societal level.
What the statue represents is submission to the idea the fight against power exists only within the confines the powerful approve of. This idea originated in a board room and was approved in one. ‘Fearless Girl’ has a presumed acceptance of capitalism; that we may stand up to the market so long as we remain in sight of it.
With ‘Fearless Girl’ now set to remain in the Financial District, we’re witnessing what the next generation of billboards will look like: corporate art in the public space, promoting a subtle dialogue of complicity not to any inspired place of imagination, but rather financial allegiance.2
The fact this dipshit President slashed the NEA funding in the new budget proposal should not be surprising to anyone. I feel like the conversation is still constrained to a very insular view of the world—that of not paying attention to governance outside America—and is hurting the very notion of art in this country.1
Existential threats to art aside, let’s just be real about state spending in the arts.2 This is only comparing the US and France, because it’s late and dedicating too much energy to pointing out the systemic issues with capitalism is exhausting.
Normally I’d enjoy this level of civic participation, but it all seems so displaced.
America is talking about the giant pile of shit that now dominates the Oval Office instead of the goddamn elephant of unchecked capitalism we’ve let use the White House as a dumping ground for 50 years.
It is important to continue a dialogue about not normalizing this administration, but believing in a corporate left (and the media that belongs to it) will only perpetuate the power consolidation by the rich.
The extent of my energy for politics after waking up and reading that America “needs to win wars again” is nil. This is about the art of cinematic storytelling.
I love a good movie. A solid script with the right cast as seen through an innovative director’s eye. And I want to believe in Hollywood, even with all the bullshit capitalism that has leeched on to the artform. I want to believe that the movie industry still puts the story first, even as it continues to bog us all down with hellish, under-written, re-hashed ideas.1
I want to believe that because of the industry side of the movie industry, some member of the Academy2 found themselves sitting around last week watching the news and realizing that nothing is as surreal as reality right now, and that the best way to give America the cathartic, completely unpredictable and absolutely perfect moment of escape would be to switch the cards on Warren Beatty.
It’s become almost standard practice to accuse the White House of lying in one form or another—a hell of a problem considering how much the President seems to change his mind. Some of his lies—the bigger, meatier ones—start with the truth. For example, his recent over-statements on his electoral win begins with the truth: he won the electoral college vote. Embellishment can be dismissed as gossip.1 Other lies are just blatantly false from the get-go.2 Like any other shithead salesman, everything is a negotiation. This negotiation just happens to take place over information, and what of it is accurate.
The press will cry about all of this for way too long, but I think the real story—and why Trump was untouchable by the media during the election—has been missed multiple times over. The cascading avalanche of lies is, at this point, better served as a distraction.3 What nobody seems to be talking about are the few times Donald Trump told the truth.
If you aren’t at least somewhat enjoying the White House cutting off certain press outlets from the daily briefings, then you’re just not having enough fun in show business. The journalism industry has spent decades marching itself into irrelevance, consumed by the revenue interests of corporate ownership.1 Now after months of doing the journalistic equivalent of kicking a bucket of shit repeatedly, they’re crying foul about a glorified meeting regarding memos.
Somewhere in Alabama