Considering Commodification

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://sociopoliticonurd.blogspot.com/2012/04/considering-commodificatio... Nurd</a>

About a year ago I worked on a research project for my qualitative research methods class where I spent time with members of the electro dance music scene. When I started the project I had no idea what it meant and what it still means to be a raver or even what a 'real rave' was. After about a month of spending time in the scene I started to believe that the venue, people, and scene I was studying were not the things I thought they were. I entered the project with the understanding that I was studying ravers; it wasn't until I spent some time studying and observing the subjects that I realized I was studying the product of a commodified subculture. The venue wasn't an authentic venue for 'real raves,' instead of a warehouse the events I attended were hosted in clubs. Instead of cultural beliefs like PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect) constituting the collective conscious, drugs, sexual activity, etc. were. And instead of collective self-organization playing a role in the events, business owners were planning and throwing the events. Despite the fact that raves lost many of their core qualities, electro music was never able to be kicked out of the culture.</td><td><img title="1) so? 2) been there, done that" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/jeepboys.jpg"></td></tr></t...

This is the role of commodification; to turn something, a service or item, into something that can be sold -- but more importantly, sold to the masses. Throughout history we have seen the commodification of products, services, and subcultures (punk culture), destroy the things we loved and needed. This was my reaction when I realized the rave scene had been commodified, packaged, and sold to the masses. But what I have recently realized is that by commodifying raves, electronic music -- one of the pillars of the rave scene, electronic music was able to enter the mainstream -- something that I assume the first DJs thought never could happen. Even though raves have been commodified for the masses, 'real raves' still exist and are being sought out by individuals who were reeled in by commodified raves.

Drawing from this example and the idea that commodification is the act of turning a product or service into something that can be sold to the masses, I feel that political subcultures can gain political power by commodifying their ideas for the masses.

COMODDIFY YOUR POLITICAL SUBCULTURE!

Comments

Too stupid to even comment.

you're telling me that you think the biggest PR, marketing, and Ad agencies could not convert the masses into anarchist? I bet they could.

all you got to do is manufacture consent

i'm reminded of:

Nightclubs are hell. What's cool or fun about a thumping, sweaty dungeon full of posing idiots?

8/12/2007
Charlie Brooker
guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/aug/13/fashion.comment

"Anyway, back to Saturday night, and apart from the age gap, two other things stuck me. Firstly, everyone had clearly spent far too long perfecting their appearance. I used to feel intimidated by people like this; now I see them as walking insecurity beacons, slaves to the perceived judgment of others, trapped within a self- perpetuating circle of crushing status anxiety. I'd still secretly like to be them, of course, but at least these days I can temporarily erect a veneer of defensive, sneering superiority. I've progressed that far.

"The second thing that struck me was frightening. They were all photographing themselves. In fact, that's all they seemed to be doing. Standing around in expensive clothes, snapping away with phones and cameras. One pose after another, as though they needed to prove their own existence, right there, in the moment. Crucially, this seemed to be the reason they were there in the first place. There was very little dancing. Just pouting and flashbulbs.

"Surely this is a new development. Clubs have always been vapid and awful and boring and blah - but I can't remember clubbers documenting their every moment before. Not to this demented extent. It's not enough to pretend you're having fun in the club any more - you've got to pretend you're having fun in your Flickr gallery, and your friends' Flickr galleries. An unending exhibition in which a million terrified, try-too-hard imbeciles attempt to out-cool each other.

"Mind you, since in about 20 years' time these same people will be standing waist-deep in skeletons, in an arid post-nuclear wasteland, clubbing each other to death in a fight for the last remaining glass of water, perhaps they're wise to enjoy these carefree moments while they last. Even if they're only pretending."

---

keeping in mind that Brooker started the article with:

"I went to a fashionable London nightclub on Saturday. Not the sort of sentence I get to write very often, because I enjoy nightclubs less than I enjoy eating wool. But a glamorous friend of mine was there to 'do a PA', and she'd invited me and some curious friends along because we wanted to see precisely what 'doing a PA' consists of. Turns out doing a public appearance largely entails sitting around drinking free champagne and generally just 'being there'."

which is not a positive reflection of his choice of friends.

and i remain convinced that commodification is fundamental to The Problem and counterproductive to anything approaching adaptation, survival, a solution or an answer.

though i do agree that proffering alternatives is paramount, i also recognize that any reasonable alternative to the nightmare of the amerikan dream will be dismissed out-of-hand by the masses.

the masses want to fix the dream when the dream is the nightmare.

it's the definition of insanity which posits doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

the modern, human primate is hopelessly stuck in the negative feedback loop of capitalist, imperial civilization (propped up by the myths of "growth" and "progress").

this culture of make believe will not voluntarily change course, no matter how obvious the danger is in not drastically changing course.

enjoy!

dance, dance, dance the night away...

I find myself reminded of two things:
1. The essay in "We Are an Image from the Future" about the connection between raves and the anarchist movement in Greece
2. My personal experiences with rave culture

The former is pretty self explanatory. That rave culture has something that could be tapped into is obvious, it's just a manner of finding how.

The later is more relevant to the anecdote of this article. I first got into electronic music from the SPAZ website, so my understanding of rave culture was biased in that direction (though to this day I haven't gone to a SPAZ sort of event). When my friends who are heavily into rave culture brought me to my first rave, the first experience I had was of some random person walking up to me, grabbing my wrist, and putting two fingers to my two fingers and saying "Peace," making a heart with our two hands, "Love," meshing our fingers together, "Unity," and then transferring kandy (a home-made rave bracelet) from their wrist to mine, "Respect," and walking off. It was pretty bizarre. My friends were really into the whole scene though, spending most of their time making kandy and practicing light shows and finding new music or chemically testing pills.
I didn't go to very many raves after that, and a couple weeks ago I bemusedly recalled the story to them. They all just looked at me and shook their heads, simply saying "People don't do that any more." I then realized they were right--none of them made kandy any more, the light shows were more spectacular (as in, less engaged), music was more divisive, and their drug use habits had profoundly changed. Many of them have stopped rolling because they're on probation or parole, and it's not uncommon from the ones who do still pop to hear "I think there were roofies in that batch" or "I don't like those because of the bits of metal they put in it." PLUR to them now stands for "people look ugly rolling." When asked what changed things, responses range from "LMFAO" (the band), "Skrillex," and "the people who show up."
I think it should be pretty obvious to us that commodification is precisely what caused the change. The problem being that it changed an entire culture into a bunch of people listening to electronic music in a room.

So even though the writer thinks that "new recruits" or whatever is awesome, it's fairly obvious to even an observer such as myself that gentrification of this sort isn't a fucking good thing, even if "real" raves are still out there.

On a similar note, I once asked one of my very few anarchist friends what they thought would happen if we commodified attack (my train of thought being 'ways to use capitalism against itself'). Their response: "Ever seen 'A Clockwork Orange'?"

spaz

because capital letters unjustly reign over the lower case

This really lines up with my experiences raving. There is (or has been) a lot of radical content to the movement, especially back when these events were generally all-night squat parties of thousands. Now they're club nights. What stands out most for me is the difference between being at an 'undergound' party where people were generally well-behaved despite a total lack of security, cops, bouncers or other authorities, and parties at legal venues in which a steady stream of people were dragged out by bouncers or on stretchers. It's commodification and spectacularization in action.

I must say, though, that I've seen this in just about every other kind of music scene I've been involved with. Few use openly class-war terms, but commodificaiton of this kind is the bane of hip hop, punk, and so many others... Anybody with much experience 'putting on shows' can tell you a long list of ugly stories about club owners, labels and "promoters" destroying the free and inspriational qualities which had originally drawn everyone in.

This is a message from Void Network / Athens section:

Free People Rave On! Strike! Total Strike! Discover Symbiosis! Destroy Commodity!
Zero Economics! No Debt - No Profit! Erase Money! Add your own Noise! Goin' Underground! Rave On!

(...)

Also, as about "the rave business and the assimilation of ALL Art Forms from Capital and the existing Economy":
our fast amd furious answers ABOUT METROPOLIS are:
1.
#FREE FESTIVAL culture: as many free people gathered as many free things happened
and
2.
non-employment relations on production: as long as the people that participate at the creation of it DON'T WORK FOR IT(!)/ and they don't get paid for it(!)... all work done for it is perfect!

Void Network [ http://voidnetwork.blogspot.com ]

p.s.

a note as about the writer of the article
and all possible "freak out brothers and sisters" :

Try to go at a "real FREE rave party"... You even admit it that you didn't found them... For the best possible understanding of rave culture try to go to some "rave parties" in the jungle or nearby the ocean... Travel alone more than 9.000 miles to any possible direction from your stand-point for a FREE rave in the jungle or nearby the ocean...Then come back to Babylon and finish your project about "raves", "commodities", "political ideas" and Anarchy

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