clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
This is a simply fantastic post about the toxic legacy of the 60's, the benefits of selling out, and the value for miscegnation along with purity. Excerpt:

Straight Edge, with its reduction of counter-cultural opposition to an individualistic moralising (no longer is the goal a body politic in opposition to capitalism, but merely an individual body remaining free of the taint of consumerism), represents the most extreme form of the political bankruptcy of No Sell Out, alternative, culture. Clinging to a vision of purity without a desire for change (which is, after all, a type of impurity) means that not selling out is not a political programme, but an inward looking and ultimately barren form of 'merely cultural' activity. So let's sell out.

The worst sell outs, we would be told (if we were still listening to those who care about selling out) are the rappers, who took the beautiful nascent counter-culture of Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy and reduced it to bling and bitches. This ignores, of course, that 'sell out' hip-hop has brought us the beautiful (and politically astute) lyrics of early Jay-Z, or the pure insurrection of NWA and Eminem. More fundamentally, though, this criticism fails to understand where the revolutionary potential of hip-hop came from in the first place. Because perhaps the most interesting thing is that hip-hop has never been a counter-culture; it didn't start out as oppositional...

Here we have the revolutionary principle of miscegenation, the absolute eros which gave counter-culture its energy and threat, tied now not to separation but to infilitration (in both directions). This miscegenation has allowed hip-hop to be coopted by mainstream culture, no doubt, but it has also allowed hip-hop to keep reinventing itself as revolutionary within mainstream culture. Rap stil has the energy that revolutionaries can take and turn into a threat...think back to Nirvana performing on Top of the Pops. Pop culture energy with a gun in its hand blasting out of every TV in the country. That's the kind of sell out we should be working towards.

Great stuff.

That said, I obviously differ slightly in terms of the rhetoric and the assesment of the current situation, but then again I'm not interested in having a "revolutionary culture," so the fact that we're not there doesn't worry me so much. I'm also obviously not so big on seeing pop culture's sole value being in essentially subversive messages, since a) I don't think subversive messages are very effective, and b) I think pop culture as it is has a value in itself, since it's always been a forum for ambiguity. But this is just based on a possibly innaccurate interpretation, and I still say "yes yes yes" to the rest of it, which does seem to acknowledge the value in the pure energy pop provides:

Hip-hop provides an alternative to counter-culture, a new tactics we can use now that the culture of opposition is failing on the terrain contemporary pop culture offers us. Understand the energy of pop culture and we have the sharp esde to which we can add the politics of opposition to forge a real blade.