Playful politics and politics of play
Protestant work ethic versus dilemmas of collective hyperactivity.
Gamification versus temporary autonomous zone.
PLUR, summers of love, Genesis P-Orridge
Situationists, Marcuse, Lettrists, punks, voguers and ravers.
Culture jammers, adbusters, zinesters, tactical media.
Guerilla gardeners. DIY. Grime and hip hop.
Leisured classes. (I bet Adam Curtis has something to say about this.)
Commodification of dissent.
Mishan. Bey. Jaromil.
Gentrification, hypergentrification, hipsterism,
Mark Greif: what was the hipster?.
The problematic of proponents of this type of engagement interacting with (and
idolising) those who might not have choice about their “playful” engagements -
e.g. the trendiness of Zapatistas for hipsters.
The mining of creative resistance for new strategies by the dominant.
* Gavin Mueller: Silent Majority Music:
But there’s one important sound that has been removed in this refurbishing
EDM trap is mostly instrumental.
By dispensing with the rapping, EDM trap effectively silences the black
voices that kept the style connected to the stories of the American
It’s the auditory equivalent of kicking out a poor family so you can live in
their classic brownstone.
In the words of one of the dance underground’s sharpest figures, Rizzla DJ:
“Damn, son, put that back where you found it!”
Thaemlitz’s approach to DJing is uncomfortable, because it doesn’t just
question our aesthetics, but forces us to re-think our entire notion of the
dancefloor experience, to leave our comfort zones and become active
participants instead of passive consumers. If that doesn’t sound like an
explosive cocktail, then you clearly haven’t been out dancing for a long time.
I wonder how much this is due to one of the less-often-quoted corollaries of
the neoliberal/market-oriented mindset of the recent few decades:
the idea that anything of value is traded on a market, and everything is a
convertible hard currency, this time applied to cultural capital.
It used to be that cultural capital and economic capital were separate
spheres, and absolutely not interconvertible.
There were no cool rich kids, or those who were hid their economic capital.
(The word “cool”, in fact, originated with socially
and politically disenfranchised African-Americans;
in its original meaning,
the word didn’t mean chic, fashionable or at the top of the status hierarchy,
but referred to an unflappability, an unwillingness to let the constant
low-level (and not so low-level) insults and aggressions of an
institutionally racist and classist system be seen to get you down;
as such, it was, by definition, the riches of the poor, the exclusive capital
of those excluded from capital.)
[…]with the dismantling of free education, the rise in income inequality,
and the gentrification of “cool” areas full of the young and creative, […]
soon it was a good thing that having economic and social capital didn’t bar
one from cultural capital, because having a trust fund was increasingly a
If Mater and Pater bought you a flat near London Fields for your 18th
birthday, and if you had a reserve of money to spend while you “found
yourself”, and the likelihood of being able to land an internship on a career
track in the media once your Southern-fried-hog-jowls-in-katsu-curry food
truck failed or you got bored of playing festivals with your respectably
rated bass-guitar-and-Microkorg duo, then you had the freedom to explore and
develop, and that development could take a number of forms;
travelling the world’s thrift shops, picking up cool records and playing them
at your DJ night, spending the time you don’t need to work for money getting
good at playing an instrument (and recent UK research shows that people in
wealthier areas tend to have better musical aptitude), or just growing a
really lush beard.
With the rolling back of the welfare state and the “race to the bottom” in
wages, these quests for self-actualisation are once again the preserve of the
gentry; it’s rather hard to develop your creative voice when you’re on
zero-hour contracts, and spend all your time either working in shitty jobs,
looking for work, or commuting from where you can afford to live. And so
economic capital has colonised cultural capital, and what passes for “cool”
now belongs to those with money.
It’s not quite like a Gavin McInnes troll-piece about the coke-addicted
bankers’ scions who form the Brooklyn scene or a Vice_Is_Hip parody tweet
about the coolest bar in the Hamptons or the latest sartorial trends from
Kuwait’s hippest princelings, but those are looking less and less unbelievable.
See original: Playful politics and politics of play