Real political subversion will be hidden from you by the media. When do you see a current celebrity interacting with rioters, or a mob of angry protesters? Never? There you go.
No “celebrity” would do such a thing. It’s too dangerous. Isn’t it funny how every time there’s a serious horror in the news, like people in Britain getting their faces burned off with acid, some wacky item hits the headlines, custom-made to distract everyone? Suddenly Katy Perry is having a near-breakdown, or young women who work at Marvel Comics are innocently drinking milkshakes. Makes it all go away, one share at a time.
Except it doesn’t go away. It gets worse.
There is no band in 2017 equal to Dead Kennedys in their prime. Everything you hear now is under corporate control. The most controversial lyrics you’ll encounter are “I guess that cunt gettin’ eaten”, from a non-white non-male, to buffer and control the outrage. A website that expresses opinions outside of the “media narrative” will be brought down by a paid hacker. Paid by whom? The same ones who start riots and angry protests, then disappear once the handcuffs and tear gas come out.
I learned all of this from Dead Kennedys, decades ago. It’s every bit as true today.
Today, protesting exists in a nebulous Never-Never Land. Go to a college campus, hunt down the raging freshmen with nothing to lose and too much energy, and whip them into a frenzy. Give them picket signs and black bandannas. Play on their innate desire to tear down and destroy. Watch them get beaten half to death by cops in riot gear and sent to prison for the rest of their lives. Witness the resultant furor over social media, which lasts a day before vanishing down the memory hole forever.
Move on to the next college.
Protesting is your right as an American. The trick is to do it in a way that doesn’t place you in mortal danger. Protests over the past two years have been indistinguishable from “gay pride” parades. Footage of a teeming mob of lunatics, perfect for frightening the squares in the fly-over states on the evening news. Futility incarnate.
The titans of 1960s underground comix mostly lived to ripe old ages, even though their art was even more subversive than any lyric Jello Biafra ever sang. Spain Rodriguez and S. Clay Wilson wrote about brutal motorcycle gangs and anarchists like the Weathermen. R. Crumb and Jay Lynch drew the decline of American life and family, in detail. That’s the key; they drew comix about it. They provided commentary on the rioters smashing windows, rather than smashing the windows themselves. That’s why their work endures today. It has to be read and absorbed. It doesn’t make you think you’re about to be brutalized, or that your house will be burned to the ground.
Allow me to modify Jello Biafra’s quote (from Peter Kuper’s classic World War III); if you’re allowing a company to modify your opinions so you can keep your job, then you’re not an artist. Any comic book company you hear about on the news is not devoted to free speech. They are devoted to the bottom line. If you don’t think the way they want you to, you are punished with the loss of your income. You might even be held up as an example of bad business for it, and pilloried on social media.
The Simpsons was once subversive. There were jokes about peyote and “golden showers”. There was even a wonderfully nasty jab at Disney in the excellent Simpsons Movie. Now, The Simpsons is mainstream. There’s an expensive theme park to promote. A lifestyle to maintain. Time to file down the rough edge on the humor, and write a guest role for whichever dildo Fox wants to prop up this week. Enjoy Family Guy while you can; it’s legitimately the closest thing to underground comix on TV. If it offends you, be grateful. One day nothing on television will. Or anywhere.
I’m not saying you can’t protest. I’m saying, be mindful of the danger of manipulation, by forces outside your control. Be sure you’re not doing what they want you to. If you’re concealing your face, coercing citizens and destroying property, you are the fascist. That’s why the cops gas and beat you. That’s why you’ll be forgotten, in prison. It doesn’t matter how just your cause is. You are in the wrong. You used the right of protest to embrace your inner bully. You broke protocol, and in doing so, insulted every single person that ever held a picket sign peacefully. That’s why everyone will turn their backs on you. They have to. You’re a monster.
Everything you need to experience in a riot is captured within that song. It could only come from experience. Listen to how the tide suddenly turns, when Jello whispers “shit”. The barricades spring up from nowhere. Tomorrow you’re homeless; tonight it’s a blast. He repeats this lyric over the coda, weaker and weaker, until it sounds like a question. Tonight’s it’s a blast, right? Right? What was it all about again?
The above video features a riot filmed by a street crew. You’ll never see this kind of footage on the news. Unless you can take a beating, you wouldn’t want to be present. Oh, and by the way; you can’t film like this anymore. You’ll be sued, because you caught footage of the plant who started the whole party. Before you can put the pieces together, you’ll either get hacked, or accused of possessing child pornography. More people understand those things than they do your cause, or your case. That’s how they “disappear” you; bombard your life with manufactured ugliness, until you roll over and submit just to end the abuse. Someone was told that their job depended on you being forced into obscurity and destitution, so they did it. They didn’t want to lose their job.
Every single person you cry to will say the same thing. “Why didn’t you just stay home?”
By that point, you’ll wish you had. In prison, you’ll have plenty of time to muse over it. You’ll realize that true American protest comes in print, or in song. You’ll look around you, and see how easy it is to be used as a blunt instrument by malevolent political forces. You’ll turn your back on your principles and become a totally different person. Institutionalized. Broken.
There will always be bad people, who want to stay bad; the trick is to be smarter than they are. There will always be forces beyond your control; the point is to keep going, freely, before they grind you into the earth. There will always be human hermit crabs, who crawl inside an identity or ideology of their choosing, and attack all who approach.
There will always be a moon over Marin.