All of a sudden, ponchos are in fashion. My mother’s been wearing those things for years, enduring people’s “Clint Eastwood” jokes, but now all of a sudden it’s the thing to do, cultural appropriation notwithstanding. But who said so? Where did we learn how to dress? Somebody’s telling us what’s right and what’s wrong; when you’re a fashion plate, and when you’re a fashion victim.
There’s FCUK, with its constant old and tired puns on the F-word (ooh, teehee!). There’s Von Dutch and Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger and all those brands that say we’re of a certain status even when it’s a blatant lie, and we’re not (thank fcuk). But how we look is so important, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what goes on inside; it’s all about the image. The guy wearing a t-shirt with Ernesto Guevara on the front doesn’t even know the countenance is that of “Che,” just that it looks “cool.” I wonder if Kylie Minogue even knows what he represents (when she’s in a photoshoot wearing his image)? I’ll tell you, Ms Minogue: violent revolution against capitalism! You hear that? You like him now? Eh? Eh?
This is what our culture has done, time and again, be it with “Che” or “CCCP” or “Revolution” or even James Dean and Marilyn Monroe – it has sucked the meaning from such symbols and left them as shallow and hollow facades; fodder for the fashion industry. True symbols have to be utterly raided of their meaning: twist and contort and pervert them into some kind of sick postmodern figure of fun, leaving them bereft of any meaning they once had. Che, for example, now represents a line of clothing for “townies” to wear, not a revolutionary force for Cuba! CCCP has less to do with the Soviet Union and more to do with being a brand name on clothing, like Nike. And even the word “revolution” itself has had to be overused in order for it to lose any meaning; like an Andy Warhol print of multiple Marilyn Monroes. Vodka Revolution. Club Revolution. T-shirt revolution.
After all, “revolution” was a dirty word. So, use it for nightclubs, use it in advertisements and commercials when it has nothing to do with revolution; use it in any way to belittle it and ensure nobody believes in such concepts as feasible and achievable and, well, real.
Socialism is a dirty word, too. It’s what Tony Blair moved his political party away from in order to get into bed with the big businesses who were formerly loyal to the Tories. Feminism is also a dirty word; if a girl tells anyone she’s a feminist nowadays it’s presumed she’s a librarian or a lesbian (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
But it doesn’t matter. Whether it be Che on a t-shirt worn by a towny guy in a nightclub about to have sex with a stranger he knows nothing about nor wishes to…or whether it be a Fox News Network fireworks display coverage of the attack on Iraq with its faceless nameless citizens…or even if it’s “reality” television shows putting celebrities in absolutely any situation that doesn’t require us to think… the aim of the powers-that-be is to remove all meaning, all inspiration, all thought. But that’s their mistake…because our thoughts are something they can never take from us.
Hasta la victoria siempre