This passed Saturday, I attended DC's Zinefest -- a little get-together of both writers and readers of indie mags. I didn't register for a table so I couldn't properly pimp my own wares (speaking of which, BUY MY BOOK) but I could still look and listen.
And boy did it ever piss me off...
The most aggravating thing about holding left-wing political views in America is that your nominally fellow leftists are almost always navel-gazing, well-fed white kids. These in particular -- they had the rhetoric of the revolutionary and they certainly had the smell of the revolutionary, but all directed to an obvious and sickening self-aggrandizement. Marxist punk journalism always revolving around how cool and edgy the narrator was for something like taking a dump in a shopping cart, crudely drawn comics excused as an assault on the bourgeois standards of beauty, Adventures in Menstruating -- really, I have no comment on that one. And all of this was acceptable, the normal subject matter of a clearly exclusive and insular scene.
This is a distinctly American narcissism. I saw it before once in Charlottesville -- some long-haired art student was trolling the Downtown Mall in a shirt that said "Stop Bitching And Start A Revolution." Being legitimately poor at the time -- not just slumming at Goodwill -- I was quite interested in this implied violent uprising so I talk to him. Turned out he was with Zepho or Zydeco, a commune just outside of town for people to affect social change through conceptual art and film.
So figure giant puppets of Bush and Cheney as Nazis or something. I asked what weapons they had and he scampered off.
See, I've had enough experience with these types to know the revolution talk is just that -- talk. This isn't a movement, it's a subculture that grew out of the early '80s punk scene when a bunch of disaffected youths who'd never known life without running water decided they were going to smash the imperial capitalist state by not bathing, living as squatters, and declaring any band that got paid for a show a sell-out. Zines were a big part of that culture and apparently still are -- old media that never reaches a new audience, consumed by 21st century hippies who stridently refuse to acknowledge the internet as a much wider and faster medium of communication because it's too bourgeois.
Revolution don't work that way, kids. It's a long, ugly process that won't score you any emo chicks. It's not for the ego-driven and that means it just ain't gonna happen in America. For all their leftist posturing, the Zinefest crowd are more interested in status among their own echo chamber -- never debating their stances, never engaging the opposition openly -- just like the screwheads in the Tea Party.
But at least the Tea Baggers bathe.