Sunday, 12 April 2009

Counterculture goes mainstream

Has the counter-culture actually taken over? If you watched the police batons hit the heads of protesters on April 1 then you'd struggle to agree, but there is something weird going on with politics today.

People today seem increasingly opposed not just to the government - which is understandable given the point in the electoral cycle - but anti-politics itself.


Richard Curtis' new film 'The Boat that Rocked' is pretty ordinary (though has some good tunes) but its portrayal of 'the people' as salt of the earth while politicians are sterile, nasty kiljoys is even more normal. Film-maker Adam Curtis has a curious theory about why this may be so.

He thinks that during the 1970s and 1980s a countercultural movement developed, which sidelined normal politics. It's icon was Bob Geldof and it's signature event Live Aid.
When the Cold War ended, TV journalists lacked a grand narrative. No good, no evil. So they picked up the counterculture theory of pure individuals and evil politicians. This worked to explain the revolutions of 1989, but then Rwanda happened. This showed that even normal people were bad. So in recent years bad things have not been explained, simply shrugged away.

"When there were no good or innocent people to support any longer, the kind of news reporting invented in the 1990s made no sense because the news had given up reporting them as political struggles.

It meant there was now no way to understand why these terrible events happen, instead political conflicts around the world, from Darfur to Gaza, are now portrayed to us as simple illustrations so a mindless cruelty of the human race about which nothing can be done, the only response is 'oh dear'. It is like living in the mind of a depressed hippy."

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