Flick Harrison on Mon, 24 May 2010 23:18:49 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> "Critical strategies in art and media" gets it wrong

I have to put in a word for Rock and Roll here in relation to May 1968.

Was it progress to hammer african-american culture into the mainstream of global discourse, and deify a few key figures of the genre, or was it all just a corporate minstrel-show on a grand scale?  Judging from the state of pop music today, and to quote Mao's analysis of the French Revolution, it's too early to tell.

But if crumbling boundaries between races in the US was accelerated by rock music (and its precedents), on a subconscious and behind-the-scenes level, then that has stronger implications for the civil-rights movement and May 68 than any explicit Bob Dylan / Mommas-and-the-Poppas love connection.   In that sense, art has had a direct kinetic influence on politics, and May 1968 in particular, by creating community around shared values.  Did that put committed radicals into bed with horny dilettantes?  Absolutely.

And don't forget, that while the didactic, world-wide peace and love rebellion against the Vietnam Revolution (can we call it that now, please?!) and colonialism in general, may have had a high-water mark in the West in May 68, the sexual revolution that emerged from the porn industry's synergistic, century-long confrontation with Marxist-Feminism was played out on the dance floor all through that period.  The collective sexual trance of a rock concert provided the social maquette of the 60's mass protest.

"It’s hard to believe, but the word clitoris did not appear in Playboy magazine until [May] 1968, in an interview with Masters and Johnson, the famous sex researchers."  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/books/26book.html

Rock music, corporate opportunism, Free Love, communications tech, etc all succeeded, together, in smashing down a certain social stasis that had taken hold, certainly in north america.  The neo-puritan Leave-it-to-Beaver hallucination that covered up valium addiction, alcoholism, child abuse, church sex scandals, lynching, colonialism, etc etc etc: good riddance to that bad baggage.  Hippies certainly took up that culture war in earnest, but the rockers were way ahead of them.


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