Sitting at a piano, decked out in Ray Bans and a black suit, Nicolas Cage sings his heart out about “Pachinko”. A sort of cross between a slot machine and pinball, Pachinko is, like your favorite late seventies rock band, big in Japan, indeed it is part of the fabric of modern Japanese capitalism. Gambling is illegal in Japan, yet Pachinko is tolerated. Instead of winning money at Pachinko parlours, players are awarded golden tickets which are thus exchangeable for cash at other locations affiliated with the parlours themselves. The industry, targeting poor and working-class people not unlike video terminal gambling in North America, is primarily staffed by ex-police.Read More
The internet has caught the Kon-Mari virus. While the book was already a huge best-seller, nothing is really big these days until it hits Netflix, and the TV series of the Mari Kondo getting people to carefully curate their possessions has got everyone talking, and her name has become a verb: kon-mari. Is it reactionary garbage? While Kondo’s brand of de-hoarding is super specific and not even necessarily minimalist, its certainly caught up in the same trends of #minimalism, tiny houses, and getting rid of all your material possessions so you can put them in a backpack, travel the world and work on your laptop trends. Is this stuff actually a bunch of reactionary nonsense? Is it the aesthetic of the condominium industry? Can poor and working class people afford to get rid of their stuff?Read More
There is something rotten in Hollywood. If anything has been proven by the events and revelations of the past few months, it is that. It is also clear that the rot goes far deeper than Harvey Weinstein. Though he is clearly the worst kind of predatory slime. Or any collection of creepy, entitled individuals with a measure of power. It is a culture in which abuse is not just accepted but often rewarded, or at the very least invites no consequence.Read More
At some point or another, every artist ponders their purpose. Do they matter? To whom and in what way? What does it even mean to be relevant? And as the world changes quickly, will their art, their music, their words, continue to have an impact?
Algiers consciously ask these questions of themselves, and are constantly aware that doing so both is and requires a struggle. One of the things that makes them such a notable act is that their consciousness of this both ideologically and structurally.Read More
Star Wars stands out as perhaps the most popular franchise in the history of science fiction and fantasy. George Lucas' original trilogy did what even Stanley Kubrick's 2001 failed to accomplish: it made Hollywood executives look to speculative fiction as a genre worthy of investment and promotion.
One can easily date the origin of Hollywood's current reliance on the genre for the profitability of the industry itself to the original film. With the rebirth of the franchise at the hands of director J.J. Abrams the cycle has come full circle. Abrams’ The Force Awakens is a direct homage to the original film, boasting an almost identical narrative structure keeping with the saga's “rhyming” tendency.Read More
Contemporary capitalism has produced stark and contradictory forms of development that by extension produce equally contradictory ways of understanding culture and the phenomenon of cultural exchange. The exchange of commodities, ideas and forms of artistic expression has always been a feature of capitalist development. Neoliberalism, however, has accelerated and accentuated these phenomena; therefore the left must reconsider the way we engage with questions of culture and cultural exchange.
The term “cultural appropriation” is one such attempt at engaging with cultural exchange, and one which has moved into common parlance among the radical left over the past decade. However, much of the theory that has emerged to explain cultural exchange, although rooted in an anti-racist instinct, is a product of post-colonial theory.Read More
Red Wedge was founded in the wake of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. Despite any number of heroic struggles, most notably (in the U.S.) Black Lives Matter (BLM), things are far grimmer today. The weakness of the workers’ movement the radical left is mirrored in the weakness of the artistic and cultural avant-garde. This two-sided problem, of course, has a major impact on Red Wedge, rooted in our belief both in the independence of art and the possibility of a revolutionary socialist project.
A defeated and marginalized left bears little fruit. A false dichotomy between theory and activism pervades the left. There are the academics who look down on concrete activism. Then there are the oddly anti-intellectual activists who have internalized diminished horizons. The latter are those who might say the “workers don’t want to read/think/look” at that...
In late May 2015 Red Wedge editors Alexander Billet and Adam Turl spoke at the Left Forum in a workshop on "Neoliberalism and the Importance of the Radical Imagination." The above audio includes the presentations by Billet and Turl as well as the discussion that followed — touching on how neoliberalism has narrowed the radical imagination, the relationship of labor to culture, as well as possible practical and aesthetic strategies for contemporary art and culture.Read More