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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Would Hate Myself If I looked That Different 20 Years Ago

This was once really cool

Ever since what I was ridiculed for in high school--wearing two earings and tight clothes--became cool again, I have been bemused by how undisturbed everyone else is by the near universality of fashion sense. Watching Live Aid today, EVERYONE in 1985, from the great artists (Bob Dylan) to the mediocre artists (Phil Collins) to the useless (Hall and Oates), to the cameramen and audience, wore the same style. Apparently, we are not supposed to be concerned because, after all, it's just style. But if you're like me, and like theorists such as Baudrillard and Nietzsche, you understand that style influences concepts and judgments. Indeed, concepts and judgements are styles.

How can you not be disturbed, however, by the fact that those you rely on to hold their integrity in important decision-making sitautions all dressed the same in 1985? It means that our judgments are grossly affected, by osmosis, by the world that is given to us, immediately, around us. This is no secret to Heideggerians, of course, but it should still be disturbing. Are you less disturbed by the fact that if you weren't gay in 1985, you also made jokes about queers? Or that if you live in in 1960 you thought communists were the enemy? You'd like to think that you could never be racist, but unless you were an absolute visionary, you didn't want Blacks to vote in 1820. And don't get me started on the women who think they are feminists, but whose strict adherence to the 2008 sense of Woman proves that in the mid 1800s they would have firmly stood against women given political responsibilities.

Are you a visionary today, in 2008? Perhaps we should think about what is merely stylish now, but which we think is part of our unflinching identities. What is the equivalent of homophobia and racism today? Here are my guesses: I think that 100 years from now, we will scrunch our faces in disgust at the provincial closed-mindedness of people who made drugs illegal (as we do now at those who made one of them--alchohol--illegal 100 years ago). I think we will laugh at those who defended capitalism as the most just system of economic distribution. I think we will look upon as monsters those who denied global warming, and those who drove SUVs, those who continually vote against tax hikes in Los Angeles to fund a real subway system.

No trend is 'light enough to let go' if you are not aware of how it crept inside your system of judgment. Before you laugh at a mullet hairdo from 1983, remember that in 1983 journalists who turned against Lou Reed described his music as for sickos, drug users and faggots. The herd mentality is never a light matter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If we look at SUV drivers as monsters then we'll probably also look at those who drive any kind of car across the country (or fly internationally) for fun as equally monstrous (and hypocritical).

The Sacred Dice - A Revolutionary Salon

The Sacred Dice is a salon of musicians, scholars, poets, sound sculptors, activists and artists of all kinds committed to art that is committed.  That could get us committed (to an asylum).  That disdain's art for art's sake and artists who have no idea why they do what they do.  We know why we do what we do--to create and celebrate community in a country still stuck in capitalist fantasies of individualism.  If you want in, you're in.  If you want out, don't worry--you already are.