Artists are the culture

Film, music & art are highly personal & aesthetic tastes. With that said, there are objective processes to all of them. It’s the objective material forces of imperialist capitalism that are acting on all artists, and what we get is a reflection of that in their work. The best artists understand imperialism from a Trotskyist perspective and can make great art that will have lasting influence. The creators of House of Cards (S1-5) are an example of great art. Those who can’t (won’t) understand the world as it really is are limited by that. That’s why most movies & television today is unwatchable.

The Velvet Underground (2021) documentary speaks about 1960’s music, art & culture. The VU, Andy Warhol, Captain Beefheart, the Stooges, Sun Ra, etc, were considered & labeled ‘subculture’ by the mainstream press & entertainment industry. But Jonas Mekas makes it clear in that film that these artists were (& still are) the culture. These are the visionaries who pushed things forward in an era of Beatles-style hippie idealism. Drummer Maureen Tucker speaks about how the VU despised naive hippies who thought they could change the world by wearing flowers in their hair & smiling at everyone. They were right.

And gay rights, that started with Andy Warhol & the VU– as Lou Reed was bisexual. David Bowie pushed through his sexuality in the 1970’s and by the end of the decade it was okay for Elton John to be gay, at least in Hollywood. These are the true artists who re-invent our culture. To carry that artistic torch, you have to be influenced by them.

Under capitalism, corporations eventually appropriate the culture (created by these mostly unattributed artists) for itself. It censors what it doesn’t like, and filters any progressive content into its propaganda through identity politics. It was female alternative-rockers & hip-hoppers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that established women as artistic & earning equals in music entertainment. When Madonna was attacked for “Justify my Love” and such, she became alternative-influenced and arguably made her best albums while the feminists mostly hated on her.

In sports, it was the 1999 USWNT that made ‘soccer moms’ a phenomenon that has stayed. They did it all with passion, as there was very little money. For years when the USWNT were WC champions (1991) and #1 in the world, no one knew or cared. It wasn’t any easier for race car driver Danica Patrick, who broke though by competing against men (and attracting sponsorship) for many seasons in Indycar & later NASCAR. The feminist crowd had nothing do with any of these iconic sporting moments & cultural advances, as they ignored Danica Patrick getting intentionally-wrecked weekly in NASCAR, yet they claim the be the infallible arbiters & guardians of all culture. That’s their big lie. The artists & athletes create the value, but only those who “play ball” are recognized & compensated. Corporate wins in all these cases.

By the 1990’s, the kids had gotten the message, largely through music & sports culture: men & women are equal, don’t be a gay bigot or racist Nazi skinhead, etc. Gay-themed shows started appearing on network TV making homosexuality mainstream because the kids had (largely) already accepted it, but that didn’t stop the networks from taking credit for this sudden phenomenon of gay awareness. That’s what they do.

Since then, it’s been about getting MORE rights for these elite gay, feminist & black groups, so they can be more equal than others in Orwellian doublespeak. Identity politics is about unequal rights for those making the demands. Equal rights isn’t good enough for them, and that’s the fundamental issue with all reactionaries & philistines.


Indianapolis 500: 2024 notes

I now watch the Indianapolis 500 annually. That event far eclipses anything NASCAR has to offer. The political purpose of the race is to promote nationalism & militarism on Memorial Day weekend. I try to block the politics out and focus on the sporting event, but that’s somewhat impossible in racing. All this high-performance machinery was developed by (& for) the military, and professional circuit racing is an ancillary of this.

People love racing, and that isn’t going to change, but I watch these spectacles to observe the spectacle in all its glory & decadence, not because I love motorsports. Going fast doesn’t appeal to me, but I do appreciate the innovation and what it can do for humanity– if it’s equally shared. When the sponsors & mouthpieces for the Indianapolis 500 talk about “tradition & respect,” they use the same tone & moral authority that Genocide Joe & university officials use to talk down to student protesters before sending in the police. With that said, it was a great race and congratulations to the winning driver & team.

As for the NBC broadcast: I love Mike Tirico, he’s the best (with Jim Nantz) so you hardly notice his corporate shilling. Danica Patrick is now becoming stiff. NBC needs her for sure, but she asks fake questions with fake interest & name-drops too much. Jimmie Johnson, who had to leave early for the Charlotte 600, wasn’t fooled. She does much better when the race starts as that’s her passion & aptitude. You can see that Danica Patrick lives entirely in an elite bubble, surrounded by security & handlers, even during the broadcast with all those fans there. Class divisions are out in the open & in your face every year at the Indianapolis 500.

One of my favorite broadcast moments was pre-race when NASCAR’s Jeff Burton was trying to explain how important it was for Kyle Larson to run in the Charlotte 600 that evening. “It could affect his playoff points,” etc. All complete nonsense, as Kyle Larson has won a race which locks him into the playoffs, and from there it’s about finishing well & winning in each round, not “bonus points” going in. I think Jeff Burton’s idea was for Kyle Larson to skip the Indy 500 when the rains came. Hilarious NASCAR stupidity & arrogance, promoting the idea that the Charlotte 600 is more important than the Indianapolis 500 to Kyle Larson. Kim Coon (whom I love) stood next to Jeff Burton, but stayed quiet on that…

Storms held off the race (and pre-race ceremonies) in Indianapolis for ~4 hours, so it’s a long day just to watch. “Adjust your schedule and do something else” is my attitude when that happens to an event I want to watch on TV. When the race finally got going, it was a mess for the first third or so. Danica Patrick correctly stated that too many drivers appeared to be too caffeinated coming out of the rain delay. For me it was like a ballplayer popping too many greenies, and then having to wait out a rain delay when wired to go. Adderall (or an equivalent) is the PED choice of professional race car drivers.

I’m getting ready for bed, and I decide to flip on Fox one last time. It’s total darkness in Charlotte and NASCAR has their jet-dryer trucks mopping up the track after a spring deluge. No sun to dry the cold, wet track; so Mike Joy & Kevin Harvick (love them both) are talking about the Ricky Stenhouse Jr/Kyle Busch team fight last week and how NASCAR promoted it to the point where no one remembers who won the million dollar All-Star race. I’m thinking, “They’ve run over half the race, why haven’t they called it? They can’t get this track dry! No bleeping way I’m waiting for the ‘re-start’ they are promising fans. Christopher Bell is the winner of the rain-shortened Charlotte 600.” Click.

I wake up Monday morning, and check ESPN dot com to learn they called the race sometime after. This was all about Kyle Larsen getting into his car and driving laps at Charlotte. That (& the fight) are the only things NASCAR old-guard cared about promoting on Memorial Day weekend. Having some “sports sense” will tell you when a story is over and thus spare you the agony of staying up late for nothing, such as the finish of the 2024 Charlotte 600 with Kyle Larson running laps.

Kyle Larson’s performance illustrated the difference in competitiveness between Indycar & NASCAR. If you make a mistake which sends you to the back, you are finished in Indycar. In NASCAR, Kyle Busch & Denny Hamlin are regularly caught speeding on pit road, etc, and are sent to the back of the field, but they always get right back up front after not-too-long because their cars are so much faster than two-thirds of the grid.

At Indy yesterday, we saw a few engines blowout & some rookie mistakes in the back, but you had to have a great car with not too many driver mistakes just to be top-20. Kyle Larson was busted for pit road speeding and that took him from top-5-ish, to a lap down and he finished 18th. Actually, it was a very good performance for a rookie at the Indianapolis 500, but NASCAR is humbled by it. He’ll try again next year. NASCAR hates it on a certain level which I’ve explained, but they also recognize how it helps them so there’s nothing they can do to stop him.