July 02, 2005

Business as usual

'Hi guys.'


Three non-events inaugurated the period of Restoration that has been in place for the last twenty years: Live Aid, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the first Gulf War.

None these things happened. On the contrary, their synchronized appearance on the global media screens meant that a new era was beginning, an era in which nothing would happen, forever.

Live Aid was the anti-punk, its ideological blackmail requiring that we give up on aesthetics AND politics. If post-punk had demanded, and for a brief moment, had got, everything - sonic innovation and/as political insurgency - then Live Aid convinced us that in a state of emergency such excessive demands would have to be suspended. Those demands were already receding, but Live Aid caught the mood, catalyzed a new ideology of feel-good conformity, sold us Capitalist Realism. Commensurate yourself to what is possible. Stadium rock: well, that arty stuff was always a bit silly, all we really ever wanted was a good time, admit it, and besides, it's all for a good cause. Eat a hot dog, chant along with Freddie 'Sun City' Mercury, save the world. Pop now nothing more than entertainment (what, you can't remember when it was ever anything different?), and entertainment is a component of a multi-national synergy, business as usual with a new caring face. The new model of 'having everything'. The postmodern superego: enjoy yourself, for everyone's sake. You know you want to. (Although, actually, couldn't the postmodern superego's injunction better be expressed as: let them entertain you?)

Twenty years on, and it is clear that submitting to that blackmail yielded almost nothing. The impact on Africa was minimal. But the cultural political impact here was immense - part of a gradual ratcheting down of expectations, a systematic subordination of every aspect of life to banal spectacle. Now it's Chris Martin, Keane and fucking Razorlight. Herbivore dinosaur rock as graduate career path. Snow Patrol. You have to ask yourself: is a world which has made Snow Patrol famous worth saving? And still U2 - always U2. The pious priests of anti-punk. The sound of the Restoration. Anthemic pathos. Nothing will happen until U2 are destroyed, destroyed utterly. Until it is much more embarrassing and shameful to like U2 than it ever was to like ELP or Floyd.

Blair and Brown must be rubbing their hands in glee. Aren't the 'politics' of Live8 the proof of Zizek's claim that 'Third Way social democracy ... effectively functions as the representative of capital as such, in general, against its particular factions represented by the different 'conservative' parties which, in order to present themselves as addressing the entire population, also try to satisfy the particular demands of the anti-capitalist strata.' Of course, Social Democracy's apparent inclusiveness is predicated upon the exclusion of certain possiblities: namely, any outside to Capital.

As an illustration: Martin's attack on shareholders a while back was eerily in synch with the structuring fantasy of Batman Begins, which correlated the disintegration of Gotham with the Wayne Corporation going public. What is the alternative? Not global communism, needless to say. Just nicer administrators. Philanthropic capital. Is that what pop is reduced to agitating for?

'Let me entertain you'. No thanks, you coked up twat.

Posted by mark at July 2, 2005 07:38 PM | TrackBack