Last week I was talking about how stylistically-challenged the Occupy Wall Street movement is, and how important style is to any radical manifestation. Well, I was so busy fretting about the style deficit of these disheveled, bedraggled, drum-beating revolutionary dilettantes that I didn’t even get a chance to address the real 800-pound gorilla in the room: advanced capitalism. That’s right, unregulated, unrestrained, evangelical, fundamentalist free market capitalism, the kind that is about to plunge the world into a tailspin of economic hardship, austerity, and widespread poverty. When soviet communism failed and the Iron Curtain fell, everyone was eager to bury communism forever. Now that capitalism is threatening to destabilize the world order, why isn’t it also being recognized as a failed political system? Just asking.Unfortunately I’m not qualified to lead a debate about world systems of governance. But I am qualified to lead a debate about the fact that according to the website Celebitchy, Kanye West wore an outfit worth over $30,000 dollars last week when he went downtown to express solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. WTF? He was covered in so much of what used to be called “bling” in the 90s and swathed in so many designer schmattes, it was like if Marie Antoinette attended a bake sale in support of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Call it what you will—limousine liberalism, champagne socialism, Gucci Marxism, Cristal communism, Abercrombie and Fitch anarcho-syndicalism—this is the very essence of the disconnect between being part of the problem and part of the solution. The oppressed have truly become the oppressors. It kind of reminds me of when Michael Jackson fancied himself a champion of the impoverished children of the world while simultaneously styling himself as the South American Tin-Pot Dictator of Pop (I’m thinking of the HIStory album cover) while having sleepover dates with pre-pubescent teenagers. The message was decidedly mixed.
Anyway, I’m pretty jet-lagged, and I have to leave my hotel room now to give a lecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, so what I’d like to leave you with this week is a manifesto I wrote a while back. It was originally published in a Canadian arts magazine, and pretty much sums up all the modern contradictions I can think of concerning advanced capitalism, celebrity, and revolution. It’s called “The Purple Resistance Army Manifesto.” You can also download it here and plaster it around your neighborhood. Or you can write a manifesto of your own. Whatever works.
The Purple Resistance Army (a.k.a., the PRA), and it’s auxiliary wing, the Purple Menace Society (PMS: women’s division) is a united and federated grouping of members of different races and genders and socialistic political parties of the oppressed people of The United States of Canada and America, who have, under homosexual and minority leadership, formed and joined The Purple Federated Republic (PFR) and have agreed to struggle together on behalf of all their people and races and sexes and political parties’ interests in the gaining of Freedom and Self Determination and Independence for all faggots and others. The PRA declares revolutionary war against the Fascist Capitalist and Largely Heterosexual Class and all its agents of murder, oppression and exploitation. We support by force of Limp Wrists the just struggles of all oppressed fairies for self-determination and independence and hereby offer to all sexual liberation movements, revolutionary workers’ groups, and people’s organizations our Total Aid(s) and support for the struggle for freedom and justice for all people and races and genders!
On behalf of all its constituents and affiliates and various sissy sycophants, the PRA hereby identifies and extrapolates upon the following pop cultural positions that should be followed in order to activate and actuate the aforementioned principles in an opportunistic and propitious fashion. Attention must be paid to the following edicts in order to gain membership to the Purple Resistance Army. Failure to adhere to the general principles delineated herewith may result in humiliation, teasing, taunting, in-house gay bashing, cuckolding, cold-shouldering, and a general reading to filth of the individual in question.
1) Never Trust Anyone Under 30. A reversal (see: Counterintuitivity) of the old proverb from a previous generation that exhorts fellow comrades never to trust anyone over the age of 30, this neo-axiom of the PRA is designed both as an historical broadside against the age-ism that has become endemic to society since the advent of the industrial revolution, and as a reminder that, under the new world order, tender youth, a formerly fairly reliable bellwether of rebellion, anti-authoritarianism, and non-conformist behaviour, has long since lost its counter-cultural compass and can no longer be trusted or relied upon to instigate or disseminate revolutionary ideals a priori. Although it may be misinterpreted as an encouraging sign that voter turnout in the eighteen to twenty-five year age demographic has dwindled in the past several decades in western democracies, it is by no means a dependable indication that the youth of today is anything less than a vast, empty cadre of reactionary, close-minded clones who will swallow any sort of predigested pablum that is placed in front of them, including, but not restricted to, badly realized computer-generated images (see also: The Aesthetic Dementia), political doublespeak, marriage (including, sadly, the gay kind), commercial pandering, substandard reality television, corporate hip hop, pre-fabricated celebrities, hyper-violent video games, respect of property and copyright, and other untold forms of popular prestidigitation. The current ‘youth revolt’ in France, wherein young people are fighting for the right to gain permanent job security (whilst in their twenties! See also: Revolutionary Reactionaries) is a far cry from the events of May ’68 in which a popular uprising of French people from diverse ethnic, cultural, class, and age groups, including communist and anarchist factions, roused to action by a continuing trend of western imperialist adventurism in Southeast Asia, sought to challenge the very control of the ruling classes by espousing ultra left wing causes, including educational and social reform and the advocacy of sexual freedom and free love.
2) Get To Know Your Asshole. The Purple Resistance Army entreats all males, but particularly the self-proclaimed “heterosexuals” (also known as “breeders”, although this term may now apply occasionally to “homosexuals” – See once again: Revolutionary Reactionaries) to get in touch with their assholes, by any means necessary. Marcuse might have had something like this in mind when he talked about the surplus repression imposed on its people by an “affluent society.” In an industrialized society which has reached a point of abundance that is characterized by the production of “unproductive goods” – tech gadgets, excess waste, planned obsolescence, luxury items, excessive military build-up, etc. – a certain repression over and above the one necessary to advance culture is forced on its citizens in order to exert a particular notion of “normalcy” that is more aligned with conformist social and institutional attitudes rather than ideas of individual fulfillment. The redundant, unnecessary work upon which advanced capitalism is predicated, characterized by a deadening or stupefying effect – a kind of zombie state when performed by the working or middle class subject, or, in the case of the white collar workers, by a moral indifference and callous aggressiveness – results in a distraction from their own personal and sexual needs. A person who functions normally in such a sick society is himself sick, while it is only the “nonadjusted” individual who can achieve a healthy acting out against the overly strict restraints and demands of the dominant culture. It is such a society that prevents constitutionally bisexual men from exploring their homosexuality, and in particular, from getting to know their assholes. Many men can spend their entire lives not experiencing the pleasure of the anus, when it has been well documented that it is the very location of the male G-spot and thereby invaluable for healthy orgasmic release. Neglect of this region leads to poor prostate health, general irritability, spiritual malaise, or worse. A carefully placed finger or fingers up the ass of any one of a number of members of the Bush or Harper administrations would greatly reduce expenditures on the military and Star Wars technology, curtail the doctrine of preemptive aggression against oil-rich, Middle East nations (most of whose leaders are already well acquainted with their own assholes and those of their Gulf Coast neighbours), and a whole host of other bellicose, morally insupportable policies based on surplus repression and anal indifference. Members of the PRA are encouraged to help any adult male over the age of consent to explore and befriend his own asshole so that others do not have to suffer as a consequence. Anal Liberation Now!
3) Discourse Sucks! Although it may fly in the face of conventional wisdom concerning the predisposition of homosexuals to the appreciation of art and artistic practice (See: Counterintuitivity), the Purple Resistance Army does not in general support or condone artists or, in particular, art discourse, although bullshit artists and their discourses are provisionally accepted. The art world has become a purely reactive and reactionary institution whose trends and tendencies are determined and circumscribed by the broader conservative cultural forces and socio-economic policies of an exploitative capitalist ruling class, having long since foregone its function as a vanguard or avant-garde, or as serving a therapeutic, cathartic, or even critical function, let alone a political or revolutionary one. Devised by a laissez-faire haute bourgeoisie, art discourse, an Emperor dressed in what he believes are the most au current designer clothes, gets lost in the elaborate, solipsistic layers of his own nakedness, lording his self-importance over an unwitting and uncomprehending public whose idea of art is the fruit in a slot machine. Modern trends in art include escapist folk fantasies involving psilocybin unicorns and golden-tressed maidens with dirty feet locked in pornographic carnal embrace, a new twist on a purely decorative seventies throwback that reinvigorates questionable commodity fetishism. More conceptual, “dialogic” art, including the use of readymades or relational art practice, while less commoditizable than traditional art objects, is nonetheless reified and marketed by the same hierarchical economic institutions and international exhibition superstructures that confine it to the amusement of an insider elite. As an alternative to the art orthodoxy, the PRA promotes finger painting, free range graffiti, tattooing (although not on pigs), home movies, ad hoc shrines – or, for conceptualists, practical jokes, pranks, hoaxes, and public nudity not organized and sanctioned by institutionalized art stars.
4) Counterintuitivity. The Purple Resistance Army, a militant band of insurgent sissies, must not succumb to the current cycle of cynicism and apathy that has infiltrated and destroyed the spirit of resistance, subversion and highly civil disobedience that was once at the very core of the homosexual psyche. In today’s topsy-turvy, wrong is right, revolutionarily reactionary world, the members of the PRA must learn to use counterintuitivity to fight its enemies. The dictates of common sense are no longer to be trusted in this poisoned environment.
5) Death to Celebrity! Celebrity culture has become the biggest boondoggle of the modern world, and members of the PRA must do everything in their power to destroy it. Much of the blame for the rise of celebrity culture has been laid at the dainty feet of Andy Warhol (peace and blessings be upon him), whose famous phrase “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” has been wildly misinterpreted as an endorsement of celebrity for all as a kind of democratic principle in a capitalist context. His real prediction for the future was probably more along the lines of an Orwellian (or perhaps Kafkaesque) dystopic nightmare in which each individual in society is forced, by means of an assembly line or factory model, into a limited window of fame/labour precisely fifteen minutes in duration, none more significant or important than the next, each turned out like so many car parts and discarded when it has outworn its usefulness. This is the same model Warhol used to produce his early movies and art work: objects assembled by a series of poorly paid workers and manufactured in his “Factory”, mass-produced and sold in a free market economy. (Although Warhol was, himself, an artist, celebrity, and capitalist nonpareil, the Purple Resistance Army grants him enormous leeway for his overwhelming contribution to hypersensitive, tortured sissyhood.) Today, the worship of celebrity has become a kind of neurotic compulsion that turns otherwise salient and reasonable human beings into slavering, sycophantic boobs who care more about the excruciating minutiae of the lifestyles of the filthy rich and unjustly famous than about their own, infinitely more authentic, everyday lives. Celebrity itself has become a disease that mangles and maims the egos of those who suffer it, reducing them to delusional paranoiacs who should be at the very least, not paid very much attention to, at best, deprogrammed. Down with Overexposure! Up with Anonymity!
6) Show Business is Politics/Politics is Show Business. Awards shows receive their own special category of condemnation from the PRA for their smug self-congratulatoriness and crass commercialism, propping up, as they do, the celebrity infrastructure by lording the wealth and power of the privileged few over the increasingly impoverished, debt-ridden anonymous masses. There are now more award shows and presentations than there are categories to define them, each one a cleverly contrived and predetermined spectacle designed by the various industries who manufactures it to present the illusion of democratic process and free market competition. The Oscars have become the Holy Grail – or golden calf – of the entertainment industry, an award conferring on its recipient both increased status and bargaining power as commoditized icon. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but the free gift bags handed out to celebrities at such awards are worth considerably more than the yearly income of the average Canmerican family.) Celebrities now campaign for major awards like seasoned (read: corrupt) politicians, hiring teams of strategists and publicists to promote their cause, while politicians, an increasing number of them crossing over from the entertainment field, are styled and cosmetically sold to the public like programmatic B-list movie stars. The PRA holds special contempt and condemnation for George Clooney, a liberal star posturing as the rebel dissenter. Recently accepting his Oscar, Clooney eschewed any overt political statement – while his country is bogged down in an unjust war – in favour of professing his proud support and admiration for “The Academy”, the ultimate Hollywood establishment organ that controls the film industry in the elitist and cabalistic, hierarchical style of Freemasonry. Gone are the days of the likes of Vanessa Redgrave (peace and blessings be upon her), who, while accepting her supporting Oscar in 1977 for playing a Jewish freedom fighter during the Nazi occupation, gave a shout out to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Even the most overtly ‘political’ stars today remain inside players who perpetuate the corrupt, nepotistic plutocracy that is Hollywood by not only showing up to every conceivable promotional event, but also actively campaigning for awards and accolades. The PRA strongly encourages homosexuals to challenge their faggoty predilection for organizing and participating in any and all parades, festivals, pageants, and ceremonies that support and promote corporate enterprise. Death to the Hollywood insect who preys upon the life of the people!
7) The Tyranny of Stylists/The Aesthetic Dementia. Modern styling has become particularly offensive to the PRA and the PMS, especially considering that it’s an invisible fifth column of our tragically misguided misogynistic homosexual brothers, from stylists to designers, who have dictated and enforced the grotesque style imperatives that now govern the image of women in the western world. From the unimaginative, uniform blond frosted tips and streaks, to the blow-up sex doll collagen-injected lips and over-inflated fake bosoms, to the grotesquely immobilized Botoxed faces and plastic surgery disasters, a new model army of faux lap-dancers have willingly conformed to the style of the hyper-objectified woman, thereby capitulating to the male gaze in a way that might previously have only occurred in the worst nightmares of Laura Mulvey. (Cruelly, the advent of high definition media technology only serves to exaggerate and intensify the monstrosity of these highly engineered viral vixens on television and, to a lesser degree, in the movies.) The PRA and its affiliates always encourage personal style and individualism over tiresome trends, particularly when those trends encourage women to approximate the image of female porn stars and strippers who are themselves already a distorted and hideous manifestation of the female image as conceived by the exploitative, male-dominated adult fantasy industry. Autonomous and/or amateur sex trade workers with personal flair and a feminist sensibility are, of course, welcome members of the PRA. Although there are too many to enumerate, two other areas of modern aesthetic dementia have been singled out for formal castigation by the PRA. Firstly, the advent of digital effects and CGI is a particular effrontery to the delicate sensibilities of our lavender membership. Even a technology in its infancy should not be responsible for this much garish, crude, and meretricious imagery. The perpetrators of CGI also have the dubious distinction of removing all the visceral stimulation and sense of adventure from the popular media. Nothing can replace the excitement, in the glory days of analogue, of a vacant model or actor being forced to share the same temporal space as a man-eating feline or a predatory bird eager to pluck out his or her eye. The manufacturing (i.e., faking) of high-risk stunts digitally deprives the audience of its most precious form of entertainment: the potential evisceration and/or termination of overpaid, privileged, and totally expendable celebrities. Secondly, the PRA calls out the exhausted kingdom of hip hop for its negative contribution to fashion and style. From its ostentatious signifiers of “bling” – ridiculously enormous gold dollar signs slung around slouched necks; tacky, overstated jewelry and accessories; pimped out, gas-guzzling showboat cars – to its propensity to engage in stylistic excess, infantilism, conspicuous consumption, and rank gangsterism, the hip hop and rap contingent has taken nouveau riche posturing to new levels of banality. Compare this to the sleek and elegant, militant quasi-Marxist style of Angela Davis and the Black Panthers from the era of true black revolution and you may be inspired to burn, baby, burn your Fiddy Cent and The Game CDs and paraphernalia. (Incidentally, no conscientious PRA member should buy CDs, hip hop or otherwise: free downloading from the internet not only challenges the corrupt profiteering of monopolistic music conglomerates and the enforcement of overly strict copyright practices, but it also reduces the use of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials unnecessarily used in the packaging of entertainment products. File sharing is not only true democracy in action, but it’s also environmentally friendly! And remember, intellectual property is theft!
8) Club Pamela Anderson. By Club Pamela Anderson, the PRA is not referring to an organization represented by or supporting the over-hyped star. It means club her, like a baby seal. From her recent appearance on the Comedy Network as the subject of a celebrity roast (with Courtney “Doll Parts” Love, by her side – Kurt Cobain must be permanently spinning in his grave), to her hostessing gig at the underwhelming Juno Awards, which presented the sad spectacle of Canada’s rad indie rockers salivating over her enormous pair of commodities (see: Never Trust Anyone Under 30), Anderson represents pretty much everything that is wrong with western free market capitalism. She needs to be, if not regulated, garrotted.
9) The Charm Offensive. Counterintuitively, PRA members must always be kind, courteous, and polite. The fact that the world is going to hell in a Kate Spade handbag is no excuse for rudeness.
10) Down with Revolutionary Reactionaries. A relatively recent phenomenon, the term revolutionary reactionaries refers to formerly radical groups of disenfranchised minorities and/or oppressed peoples who are now fighting, sometimes violently, for the right to be conservative, stable, and inert. From the aforementioned French riots, during which so-called socialist youths donned balaclavas and sacked the libraries of the Sorbonne (the very site of the genesis of May ’68!) to promote their fight for sedentary, entrenched job security; to angry gays and lesbians struggling to participate in marriage – a traditional social and legal institution designed to bind and control its citizens – and to adopt family values; to black thug rappers transforming hip hop, a previously unruly and subversive form of spontaneous, rebellious street communication, into a corporate enterprise characterized by good old-fashioned corruption, greed, and internecine violence (Proof RIP!): the oppressed are doing a pretty good job of oppressing themselves these days without the help of hegemonic states, bureaucracies and institutions. The Purple Resistance Army urgently implores you to Wake Up and Smell the Tear Gas!
Bruce LaBruce for the Purple Resistance Army