Monday, 13 May 2013

no myths anymore

It's a question of bread and water, 

energy and anti-energy,

weapons and armor. 

What was it to you? 

Was it somewhere to draw strength to face the day, was it where the last shreds of politics were making their last stand, was it the only thing around that said, "Me too", slashing through the barriers of country, class, race, gender and sexuality, which are presently being made ever more formidable.

Did pop tell your stories and struggles when others refused to even acknowledge you existed, was it a flickering pilot flight in the dark, was it a galaxy of dancers and dancefloors?

What's it to you?

Politics has been cored-out of everyday experience, most obviously in pop culture. What are the decades blogs if not a testament to the once-prevalent fusion of culture and dissent. Echos remain if you now where to find them, in smaller places and smaller arguments.

Struggle. Class. Race. Gender. Sexuality. Politics. Weapons & Armor, and the correct use of these for the purposes of hacking and slashing.

We want something uncomplicated, neat and clean and not frustrated.

What if you weren't lucky. What if you knew you were trapped and had no way to get out: past generations at least had the option of rattling their cages. The politics of clinical depression, the lifestyle of joblessness. The agony of hours of fuck-all to do and knowing that it doesn't matter.

We've all been hurt and we've all been damaged.

Retreat, hold territory, survive.

That's what retromania might be all about really, knowing that pop culture won't save you anymore, has ceased to be enough after the clampdown: your vintage clothes; your 40-year old guitar licks; your movie references.

A lot of 2000s pop culture is about secret damage, barely concealed wounds, knowing something's being taken away without you quite knowing the how, who, or why.

And everywhere signals everywhere: "Look away, look away, look away."

There's some retro I think I can live with.


David W. Kasper said...

I take it this refer to Alex's recent Fantastic Hope post?

I'd argue there was a 'millennial aesthetic' in pop (and pop movies - Linklater, The Matrix etc) all over the place up to around 2002:

... quite political in its focus, filled with foreboding, militantly multicultural, filled with doubt about what 'the (capitalist) real' actually entailed. Very much aimed at 'the multitude' that came out the other end of the 90s without illusions but deeply insecure about larger global illusions.

I've mentioned this before, but 9-11 and the wars it heralded clamped down on that very suddenly. There was a weird cultural trauma left in the wake of Bush and Blair. Not as immediately apparent as with Thatcher and Bush. But the horrific, militarized monoculture we now have on both sides of the Atlantic is its legacy. It's like most of us are still too numbed to see it for what it was.

It wasn't just subculture that's been wiped out (that process started a little earlier) but 'pop culture' in general came to mean virtually nothing, outside a far more direct kind of Ideological State Apparatus.

Paul Hebron said...

It started off, of all things, as a defense of certain mid-2000s British indie bands I thought used retro influences in an interesting way to provide: a) a critique of society that a lot of experimental music's been dodging; b) used retro to create propulsive, good music. Then it sort of got away from me once I'd read what had been posted elsewhere. I don't know. As far as retro goes I'm as guilty as anyone, I mean I wasn't around in any sort of music criticism golden age: I've never felt compelled to pick up a music mag.

To people my age, who were children when 9/11 happened, I don't think it's consequences can be underestimated. We talked about it for weeks, made games of it. In the talk I link to by Kulkarni he talks about post-9/11 the country becoming a more fearful and racist place.

Deep psychic consequences. I remember the invasion of Iraq, when I started secondary school. Bad men wanted you, your friends, and family dead. I remember the night of it happening, fireworks just like the millennium. Images: tanks on highway; soldiers blowing apart a sniper's nest in a minaret; collapsed buildings and rubble.

I remember when 7/7 happened saying "they've got one the bastards" when the police shot de Menezes. I remembering having a lot of Islamophobic thoughts too.

The early 2000s were an extremely bad time to be growing up in politics terms.

Paul Hebron said...

Realised all of that was more or less an unfocused rant. I'm getting a knack for those.

Ie. subculture there was a time when around rave music the CCCS white working class men experience (mosty anyway, Angela McRobbie talked about working class women, Dick Hebdige has a bit about black youth culture/rastafariansim, and Paul Willis did a bit on middle class hippies) was thoroughly discredited by ideas about tribes, personas, or scene conceptions of youth subculture.

Subcultures haven't so much as died as they've ceased to evolve/emergewith anything like the frequency they did: or the images they create to form subculutres around are less precise. Paul Hodkinson's wrote a lot about goths and how they've maintained a subculture that, while more or less stuck, can be sustained because for whatever reason goths tend to be more middle class and affluent.

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