Che and Beret…part one

I can’t get that annoying little ditti by Kylie out of my head today – na na na, na na nana na… And I have to go give a talk later at Aga Khan University about music. This does not bode well. In the afternoon I might swing by the Victoria & Albert Museum for the exhibition that has just opened, that Peter Conrad wrote so annoyingly about in the Observer this weekend. He did mention some of the images I planned to use, but won’t now. I was going to do a riff on berets. Starting with the ones PC mentioned – Cher (just ad an r – heh heh Pete, what smarm-charm you have) I guess he means the one where she is on the Sleaze Nation cover. Then the Madonna Life one – Madge, whom bell hooks described as like a kind of plantation mistress for her tidying up of dance music etc – note she also managed to bring so-called ‘Asian’ music into the big house too, back when she did that album Ray of Light, wailing seemingly about Heidegger (‘your eyes only see what your eyes want to see’) in the Tundra of the song Frozen… (Virinder and I rant on her career redeeming [?] South Asian turn here)…

Then there is Che himself with camera, which shows a certain charm. And its not something the left was not fully cognizant off, long before the V&A retrospective… as can be seen from my pic from an ESF stall year before last… It seemed the stalls witht he most Che t-shirts were from our italian comrades, and I guess with the cost of life in London, we hope they made some sales….

The funny bit is of course that Che has a beard, but Gerry Adams appearence was considered inappropriate for the opening of this exhibition (well, I guess his mates did bomb a few of Old Vicky’s relatives on the way to forcing them to the negotiations table…)

….continued… in pt 2 (cos blogger cannot seem to cope with more than a couple of pics at a time)…


2 thoughts on “Che and Beret…part one

  1. [I still don’t get this blog system, let me try this again…]

    Here is something post-structuralist Dr. Mimi Nguyen once wrote about the Che shirt:

    I am thinking about the “ironic” display of revolutionary memorabilia, in terms of supermodel Kate Moss wearing Che t-shirts in the same manner she might wear a Judas Priest t-shirt — for the “irony” of once relevant cultural icons made, according to the leveling effect of this irony, into kitsch (whether figured as “revolutionary” or “white trash”).

    I say “once relevant” not because I believe Che is no longer relevant as a political figure, but to note that this is how the logic of this particular version of irony works. This leveling effect depoliticizes the social powers and conditions that produced these subjects as agents and as icons, and the South American guerilla and the heavy metal progenitors are made to occupy the same horizon as commodity images or “arrested moments” divorced from their specific historical significance.

    I don’t think a Che t-shirt necessarily means anything until it’s given a context (e.g., what if Kate Moss is actually a big fan of Che Guevara? how does her social status as a fashion icon impact how we might read her in a Che t-shirt as a “necessarily” frivolous gesture? what does it mean if she –or any other individual– mediates her identification, however uneven, with Che through this commodity image? etc.).

    I can’t stand the “what if Kate Moss is actually a big fan of Che Guevara?”. I can understand the extreme relativism since it’s a post-structuralist who wrote this, but I think I am right in assuming her wearing of the “arrested moments” T-shirt is nothing but “a ‘necessarily’ frivolous gesture”, unless explicitly proven otherwise.



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