Monday, March 02, 2009

Socialist Chic

We've been made clearly aware that the fashionistas and celebrats revel in the idea of socialist thought as expressed by Che T=shirts, Mao purses and a variety of capitalist ideas put to work using socialist, communist and fascist imagery. But it's free speech, right? Sure, but what message is it sending? I ask this because many of our college and high school aged citizens are blissfully unaware of what havoc was wrought on free speech under the likes of the USSR, GDR and countless other nations that imposed a narrow economic mindset on its citizens. When President Reagan said "Tear down that wall," he was speaking literally and figuratively. For years the nations that owed allegiance to the tyrannical power of the USSR held their citizens captive. There was no free speech, no free press, no organized dissent that was respectfully tolerated. Think Tiannemen Square. But then think back earlier to Czechosolvakia, to Bulgaria, to Yugoslavia. There's a reason that communism fell and continues to fall as China moves away from the narrow ideal of Mao.

But Hollywood, New York and Paris and their related celebrities haven't gotten the news. Such regimes would shut them down. They wouldn't tolerate the loose cannons like Sean Penn. Nor would they welcome the carefully couched criticism from George Clooney. They would lock these folks away. And that's not American. Or at least that wasn't the America that I grew up in. Yet today, there are those who think it's perfectly alright to limit someone else's free speech if it doesn't agree with your own. And they try to make such views chic by putting the images of the monsters who oppressed millions on wearing apparel. There is a certain level of irony here, but there is also a serious information disconnect. How can anyone wear on their body the image of a tyrant and not at some level promote the ideals of that person? And the bigger the celebrity, the more exposure.

Read more here

Excerpts

"...If you believe in the freedom of the press, the right to belong to a political party of your choice, the due process of law, and/or private property, then Che Guevara was a monster, plain and simple. But even with that knowledge, it's unlikely that Johnny Depp will get rid of his Che medallion. And it's unlikely that all the pseudo-hipsters who buy their Che T-shirts at Urban Outfitters will stop wearing them. No. These T-shirts send a message, which effectively boils down to this: I have vague left-wing sympathies but don't read history. I am educated enough to want nonconformity but not intelligent enough to avoid conformity. I believe in supporting the wretched of the earth but happily purchase products from multinational corporations..."

"...Cameron Diaz is not, of course, a communist. She's a ditz — that's her ideology. Her Mao bag was tasteless, not evil. And she's far from alone in her tastelessness. The coolest literary bar in New York is KGB in the East Village — the 92nd Street Y for young writers — and it's full of Soviet propaganda. In Toronto, I was once in a bar called Pravda that had, alongside Lenin and Che, a picture of Felix Dzerzhinsky on the wall: He founded the Cheka, Lenin's secret police, and described his own job as "organized terror." There are communist-chic bars and restaurants in Melbourne, Australia, and Singapore, too, and the trend has recently returned to its birthplace. In Berlin, the hotel Ostel re-creates, in minute detail, the experience of living under Soviet rule in the GDR. You check in at "Border Control." Images of party leaders stare down from the walls like the Big Brothers of yore, and Ostel even has a roll of GDR-era toilet paper under glass in the lobby. Hilarious. Nothing shows the defeat of tyranny more thoroughly than its reclamation by nostalgia...."

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