The "Club of Morons" and crime chic
It's an oddity of our country's political culture that so many Americans like to think of themselves as rebels. Leftists think they are rebelling against a predatory US capitalism/imperialism, while those on the right think they are rebelling against a decadent society dominated by liberals/leftists. I think both perspectives are more or less delusional, but last Sunday's NY Times provides ammo for the right with an article legitimizing graffiti vandalism as "art" (Graffiti Cinema Turns Moody, S.T. Vanairsdale, Oct. 15, 2006):
To practice their art, they've had to live in the most extreme situations. They've been chased by cops. They've fallen off buildings. They've done their art amongst the homeless. They've been in alleys. They've been kicked out of their homes. To really do graffiti and to do it right---if you're a true lifelong graffiti writer---you've been through all this.
Oh my, they've even been in alleys! And they've "fallen off buildings"! A big fucking Boo and a big fucking Hoo! But we are on notice: The country's cultural left is inventing a new class of oppressed people---urban vandals!
Benjamin Morgan, who directed a film about graffiti vandalism, puts us in the picture, so to speak: "It's become more and more popular over the years because it's this ultimate form of urban rebellion...It's in your face and it's saying, 'I'm going to do what you don't want me to, and I'm going to make a name for myself.' " This is almost a dictionary definition of juvenile behavior, or "infantile disorder," as Lenin called the political behavior of the ultra-left in the last century.
But a new layer of political correctness is being laid over this childish, destructive "art" genre, as Vanairsdale notes that "the recent graffiti films often take place against a backdrop of violence, sexism and homophobia." Progressive help is on the way, as one new graffiti film features a young gay man, while another stars a young woman. These movies are a big step forward, because they have "this feminism aspect and the gay aspect. Other people need to know that there are people like me and him out there. It isn't just this macho club of morons and thugs and stuff." Gays and feminists can now join this Club of Morons. True equality at last!
Not to be outdone, even the Hearst-owned SF Chronicle is getting into the crime chic groove:
Inspired by images of gritty crime scenes compiled by the New York police Department, the Los Angeles photographer Melanie Pullen has re-created hangings, strangulations and drownings in 100 large-scale highly saturated color prints. But wait---isn't that model hanging from a telephone pole in a seedy alley wearing a Marc Jacobs blue plaid coat?...The images range from the subtle (a woman in a white dress lying in the woods who is shot from afar so it's hard to tell if she is sleeping or dead) to a full-length shot of a woman hanging from a noose..."People are willing to accept the death in her pictures because we get the beauty to go along with it," said gallery owner Stephen Wirtz, who is showing the artist for the first time. "Think of CSI," he said, referring to the popular TV show about a crackerjack forensics team. "The victims are usually beautiful women, aren't they? The commercialization of violence has turned into an industry in the last 100 years." (Fashion Victims of Art, Film, by Sylvia Rubin, SF Chronicle, Oct. 15, 2006)
Aestheticizing and commercializing violence against women and romanticizing vandalism that costs the city millions of dollars every year to eradicate. Oh, we are just so hip and cutting edge! And decadent.