Pop Culture and Manufacturing Dissent; Or, the Idiocracy is Today

I was at the gym, walking on the treadmill- what passes for exercise among the aged- watching an array of flat screen TVs. MSNBC, NBC, ESPN, a couple of broadcast stations. No Fox, this is SWPL land. And I was overwhelmed. Idiot sports, idiot entertainment, idiot news. All aimed at people with at least some post-secondary education. The mass stupidity of America is shocking.

Unless you have been able to completely escape this deluge of anti-information, you will have heard of the recent death of actor Davy Jones, best known for his role on the 60’s TV show “The Monkees“. The Monkees were assembled for a TV show about a Beatles-type band, copying the Richard Lester directed “Hard Day’s Night”. They proved popular enough to appear live, but nobody would mistake this for anything other than highly commercial entertainment.

A certain sort of person likes to feel superior to this sort of thing, and a free tabloid called the Stranger made a mocking reference, which upset a lot of people. The strong reaction to this shocked the sophisticates, who could hardly believe so many silly people actually loved the Monkees.

Well, us sophisticates know a real artist, don’t we? A trangressive genius who goes to war against bourgeois respectability. A man like Tupac Shakur, who appeared 16 years after his death last week at the Coachella music festival in the form of a hologram. Shakur was, as we all know, the ultimate gangster rapper, from the mean streets of the East Bay and a family of Black Panthers.

Or do we? Shakur was not what he appeared to be, or was marketed as. His aunt, Assata Shakur, was indeed a criminal and terrorist, now living in Cuba, but more of the champagne radical sort like our dear leader’s good friend Bill Ayers than a real ghetto criminal. His mother and father were also Black Panthers, but more poser types than real gangsters.

Shakur himself was none of this; he was a highly successful child actor. Moving to Marin City north of San Francisco, he attended the lovely Tamalpais High and wrote his own greatest role, that of a sinister but brilliant street gang leader. He was no such thing, and people who are don’t like it when middle-class people pretend to be them. Things got out of hand, and attacks and shootings on people not inclined to play in his pretend rule got out of hand, and in a few years he was killed.

Just how does pretend ghetto posing get to be such big business? If I knew I would be relaxing on my yacht and not writing this. There is a man who does know and is probably relaxing on his yacht right now, Jerry Heller. Heller was a pop music mogul of the 60’s and when he heard the original gangster rap group, NWA, he knew white suburban teenagers would eat it up, or more exactly, buy a lot of CDs at Sam Goody’s. NWA were more blue-collar than ghetto, but they were a lot closer to the street life than the Communist revolutionary family of Shakur. There is nothing quite so bourgeois as a Communist revolutionary.

Things like the Black Panthers and Tupac Shakur come about not so much organically, as because there is an audience for them. “Give the- people- what they want!” goes an old Kinks song, and so people who make stuff for white people who want to be scared and awed by the power of the black man give it to them.

The ultimate in dissent- black power revolution from the ghetto- is manufactured for us just like any other consumer product.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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17 Responses to Pop Culture and Manufacturing Dissent; Or, the Idiocracy is Today

  1. latteisland says:

    Yes, it surprised me when I learned a long time ago that Tupac Shakur had a fairly privileged upbringing. OTOH, Marin City is ghetto. Surrounding Marin County is one of the most upscale and pleasant areas in California, but I’ve never even been to Marin City, because no one goes there.

  2. latteisland says:

    I was surprised when I learned a while ago of Tupac Shakur’s relatively privileged upbringing. OTOH, Marin City is ghetto. Marin County is one of the most pleasant and upscale areas in California, but no one goes to Marin City.

    • I read a long time ago he was regarded by the locals there as a poser, and got a certain amount of rough treatment as a result. I think his desire to live up to his pose and his lack of real, lived understanding of ghetto rules of conduct led to all the violent incidents he was involved in.

    • That’s what always confused me about Marin City. It’s between Mill Valley and Sausalito, two of the most affluent cities in Marin (which really is saying a lot). Yet these towns are extremely liberal. That’s some extreme cognitive dissonance going on––somehow, they’re keeping the ghetto dwellers out, without ever consciously acknowledging it!

      • NoMarxismAgain says:

        The same reason SF has “Bayview/Hunters Point” and Palo Alto has “East” – a bunch of sensitive minds are worried about looking “too white” and not appearing “multicultural” enough, so they condone or create subsections for the scoundrels (but far enough away so proper residents could eat their gluten-free Vegan desserts without hearing “drive-bys”.) Revitalization? Much too “capitalistic” for them.

        Oakland is a similar case. The city name alone easily conjures up the mental picture of a hellhole filled with gangsta/thug miscreants, but it’s actually not so different from San Francisco’s neighborhood layout. In the northern (and hill) parts of Oakland there’s multi-million dollar homes, vintage art dealers and upscale restaurants. But once you’re west and east of Lake Merritt, it’s a clusterfuck of bad news (i.e. the “hippity hop” Oakland). I just feel sorry for the legitimate businesses that can’t afford to operate any place else.

      • Still, it’s an odd internal contradiction and I doubt it’s quite conscious. I remember there was some noise about extending BART to Marin and everybody knew, without it ever being quite spelled out, that the main reason for the resistance was that it would give black people in Oakland easy access to Marin. At present the only way to get to Marin via public transit is through Golden Gate Transit, which costs $5-7 if you’re crossing a bridge.

      • NoMarxismAgain says:

        That just proves the hypocrisy and how it’s all just for show – Marin County can claim black integration, and yet the “black community” is a ghetto far away from areas of opulence. In other areas of Marin County and even Sonoma County there’s neighborhoods with violent Chicano gang activity, but those ‘hoods’ are also isolated from the fine wine, dine and luxury districts.

        The ulterior motive behind this scam? With ghettos and crime comes legal counsel and/or public employee opportunism.

      • Perhaps. But for me it still doesn’t make sense to have the ghetto in Marin City of all places. If you drive up 101, you see Marin City on the left, Sausalito on the right. They’re separated by a small freeway underpass. The Marin City kids to go to Tam high school. There’s a bike path leading from Sausalito straight to MIll Valley. So how do the residents take steps to protect themselves (and the tourist dollars) without engaging in massive cognitive dissonance?

        My off-the-cuff guess is that any black person seen walking around these towns would be stopped, questioned, asked for ID, etc. by the cops. People would be overly friendly in that “I’ve got my eye on you buddy” way. But still, inquiring minds want to know!

      • NoMarxismAgain says:

        Well, like you said, because there’s no BART line that runs into Marin, that means less hardcore contraband being funneled in or out. Hence, that limits the types of crime the Marin City hoods can commit. According to the MC Sheriff’s dept website, the majority of offenses seem to be mostly theft/burglary related:
        http://www.marinsheriff.org/about.aspx?gi_id=129

        As far as Tamalpais High School and the M-City denizens that transfer in – that, I don’t know. I can speculate that it might be the same deal that’s gone on in the East Bay: Some “better-performing” high schools have long allowed out-of-district transfers (translation: thugs) in, and while it looks like”social mixing”, many of the schools are divided up in such a way so that “advanced placements” (i.e. future state-paid sociologists, “civil rights” attorneys, poverty pimps, etc.) are concentrated in one building, while everybody else is in another building, and the “at-risk” kids (the transfers) might be in that same environment as well.

        It was a classic case of NIMBY (for the “elite” advanced placements) and inflating school attendance so some pseudo-teachers can have jobs, but we all know they’ll never admit to that.

      • That seems to be how “magnet” schools work. Provide a special program for SWPL children in an inner-city school, to show statistical racial mixing, but the two groups never actually interact. Sandra Tsing Loh wrote in great detail about how she got her daughter into such a program.

  3. Sector 19 says:

    Very true. This is primarily why Eazy-E broke with Dr. Dre, Snoop and Death Row Records. It’s all explained here: http://youtu.be/KdHD3tIR3X0

    This was from a diss album after their break. It’s very easy to see who was the more authentic street thug… Especially when you compare it to the mediocre studio style response from Dre and Snoop.

  4. seedofjapheth says:

    That guy Kanye West tries to act like a gangster too and he is of a normal middle class background. He grew up in a middle class neighborhood and his mother was a teacher. I don’t think anyone is better or worse because of their social class and neighborhood they grew up in but it’s pathetic for people to pretend to be something they are not.

  5. DD says:

    EXCELLENT POST! I think pop-culture determines 99% of what is going on and can even give biology a run for it’s money (in the short term only though). Check this out Thrasymachus:
    http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/nwsltr93.html

    It is part one, just keep clicking for the next parts, very interesting with regard to posing.

  6. NoMarxismAgain says:

    The Bay Area. HA! HA!

    If one wants to see Liberalism in its fugliest feminist, most ghetto gangbanger form, one should look no further than the cities of Berkeley and San Francisco. Being raised in the Bay Area, I could you that the media’s portrayal of the “San Francisco Liberal” doesn’t do any reporting justice: the amount of Socialist-Psychosis there is actually a LOT worse. I was forced into believing all of that shit during my entire adolescent and teen years, even if – deep down – I was in quiet defiance to all of it. Unfortunately, ORATED free speech only applies up there if you agree with that same brand of Left-Fascism. Your opinions are not welcome if you want to (just examples) criticize Islam, criticize the sanctuary policies for illegal immigrants, or you don’t want to allow crack-addicted homeless people to urinate and defecate in front of your family’s business.

    I do remember that whole Tupac/Smalls thing from 1996/1997. And then of course there was the 2004 “popping” of Mac Dre, who (according to the Wikipedia bio) created the “hyphy hip hop” genre. It’s really no different from other hip hop – it’s pretty much just a bunch of “fools” getting wasted on cheap cognac, smoking a bit of “sherm”, doing illegal street shows/racing with an old ratty car and then getting involved with shootouts if it takes place on a “rival’s turf” (which is likely the main objective, otherwise “it don’t be hyphy enough”). I’m sure the cognac is hot, the cars are hot, and the MetroPCS phones that they use for invitations are hot, too.

    But silly me. We must be tolerant about this kind of behavior and learn from it. After all, “It be hella Machiavellian and shit, cuz” and “in the YAY area”.

  7. Blah-Nehisi Bloats says:

    After all, “It be hella Machiavellian and shit, cuz” and “in the YAY area”.

    -Sheeeeit son, big-ups 2 da YAY area. WHAAAAAT!

  8. Mang, dis blog be uh mothuhfuckuh!

  9. Pingback: The Black Art of Shock and Awe; Or, Black Radical Art and the Double Bind | Deconstructing Leftism

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