Saturday, 13 August 2011

Careless about Culture

H istorian David Starkey has told BBC's Newsnight ''the whites have become black'' in a discussion on the England riots with author and broadcaster Dreda Say Mitchell and the author of Chavs, Owen Jones. He also hit out at what he called the ''destructive, nihilistic gangster culture'' which he said ''has become the fashion.'' [1] Here's my two-penneth:

Corporatised culture of all kinds (whether 'Hollywood' or 'Street') restricts participation to the sanctioned route of possessing (buying) its marketised iconic objects. Rappers, movie stars, footballers (for eg) may perform messages of inclusion, but they also constantly show how they differ from their followers, especially economically. The 'culture' they promulgate is exclusionary, especially to the poor, because it is economistic.

If 'culture' is the concern, let's question the habit which equates the possession of proxy objects (either by purchase or theft) with a kind of cultural inclusion. Starkey does not differentiate between affnities, attitudes and objects, and thus reinforces a reactionary idea of a person's agency inside and outside "their" culture.

All cultures of identification can become false consciousness, can't they, especially when monetised?


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