“Postmodernism theory is then dialectical at least insofar as it has the wit to seize on that very uncertainty as its first clue and to hold to its Ariadne’s thread on its way through what may not turn out to be a labyrinth at all, but a gulag or perhaps a shopping mall.”
— Frederic Jamison
— Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
There is a fine line between cultural advocacy and collaboration as a corollary to being complicit with colonization.
The reason is not complicated – Postmodern Capitalist Realism absorbs everything and inverts it to extract value and establish control of the process and sham discussion of its exploitation and colonizing tyranny.
Which brings us to the now defunct media company behind “Irish people try…”
Here’ an explanation and obituary:
“THE FIRM BEHIND the Irish-founded YouTube channel Facts has axed staff working on the unprofitable video operation as its young founder prepares to sell off the parent company and its assets.
Creative Nation, a Dublin-based firm, was founded in 2013 by then 17-year-old Shane Corry. The company produces its own viral videos for social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook under the Facts brand.
The firm also acts a ‘multi-channel network’ – a talent scout of sorts for online influencers – that advises content creators in exchange for taking a cut of their revenues.”
See the entire piece here:
Notice the language: “The company produces its own viral video for social media platforms…”
Translation: The company attempts to manipulate people into purchasing empty caloric injections of monopoly money, as ersatz packets of cultural meaning which can then, in turn, be repackaged and resold, and then injected again (as both financial heroin and a dirty needle) as the machinery cannibalizes itself and its users. The distinction between consumer and product is erased and a hall of mirrors is created, in which consciousness is hijacked – colonized, commodified, sold and resold – so that every action is defined in terms of its value – that is value in monetary terms because any kind of spiritual – or not for sale worth – value is exiled.
The conceit behind the bogus stock is that there is something intrinsically valuable, and interesting in watching Irish people try something.
Watching the videos one is struck by the extent to which American advertising – as a blunt instrument of market tyranny – has successfully penetrated and colonized the imaginations of others – in this case (or cage) the “Irish.”
Except for the accents, which often come and go, revealing an even deeper mixing with America Inc., the would-be influencers, offer opinion enhanced by local linguistic tics – fooking brilliant or now that’s luv-lee, or, da ting is, being common.
But nearly all of the participants also display familiarity with a set of products which they have internalized and reinjected back into the cultural stream, so that they sound American-ish. Thus ironically by sounding almost American and sort of Irish–ish, they become nothing specific; a cultural version of genuine imitation leather.
On the one hand this is the post industrial world of international trade, in which culture qua culture is a constant state of being ad hoc. In this fevered atmosphere authenticity is ridiculed because it expresses a state of genuine resistance to the tyranny of colonization. The result of that tension is the emergence of a lethal cartoon atmosphere in which pointing out that the product is not funny but deadly, is met with sarcasm and demeaning ridicule, and any and all rage that is generated is declared a kind of illegitimate hysteria. This rage operates on a spectrum moving from neo-fascist to the left, with vague iterations all along the way.
That it has, along with the wholesale gutting of economic stability also produced the neo-fascist tribalist rebellion of Bannon, Boris Johnson and Trump et al is no small thing (ting as the Irish would phrase it) but our focus (for now) is elsewhere.
The selling of the idea of an “influencer” is in truth the transformation of the individual into an advertising firm or ambulatory billboard, but one that is itself a subsidiary tool of a corporation that is itself a subsidiary and tool of the colonizing system.
Colonization is both a blunt force trauma and a subtly insidious manipulation of anxiety (an anxiety created by the colonizer) – both centered on the individual who feels inadequate and equates superiority with the customs of the colonizer, and also in a general atmosphere of anxiety in which, having been defeated the colonized inhabit a zeitgeist of inferiority, desperation and rage. To surrender is to admit defeat and to resist is to admit the fact of having been colonized – in other words, damned if you do and damned if you don’t; a prisoner of the soft dictatorship.*
Consider that in the videos the only things that mark the participants as “Irish” are as mentioned, the accents. Other than that they are indistinguishable from people almost anywhere – vaguely European, or North American or really, except for an abundance of nearly translucent white skin, they could be young and Asian or South American.
One of the characters is consistently attired in logo saturated clothes that are all adverts for America Inc. and delights in showing off his “deep cut” knowledge of Americana while both being worshipful and sarcastic as if that ambivalence is a kind of spiritual prophylactic. Thus, per Jameson, the Gulag could just a easily be a shopping mall.
As mentioned, the consistent unstated conceit that lies behind all of that is of course, the idea that there is something intrinsically interesting in their opinions because they are Irish.
In other words this is a Celtic twilight 2.0
Back in the increasingly misty days of Yeats and Maud Gunn, the invocation of a pre-modern, pagan Ireland was contextualized as a frame, that established an anti-British narrative of rebellion in the face of the blunt reality of colonization. Gunn – with the perfect name – ran guns and was a radical revolutionary and not, an “influencer” except in the sense that she might actually kill someone.
Fast forward a hundred plus years and Michael Flatley and Enya, and a host of other Celtic-ish products were viewed by some with contempt, because they were seen as regurgitations of Irish kitch in the service of a second wave of colonization. Masquerading as avatars of pure culture they were in fact kitch, and collaboration and exploitation.
And so, “Irish People Try” is a post-2008 crash (with the demise of the fabricated Celtic Tiger) regurgitation of Irish kitch, in which being Irish and having an opinion is declared in and of itself to be of value but is a new wave of an old form of exploitation, and collaboration, camouflaged as a unique cultural perspective. In other words there is to this a kind of Blackface minstrel show in which being Irish is a commodity.
That the company behind this was intent on creating “influencers” is a clear and unambiguous sign of collaboration with the colonization of Ireland – within the wider colonization of the world in the service of transforming all things into stock and product. With nothing left to sell, being Irish is commodified along with having an opinion.
The company, to no one’s surprise has folded, declaring a kind of bankruptcy.Taken as a metaphor for the neoliberal world order, as a subcategory of traditional capitalism, as an example of Capitalist Realism, this makes perfect sense. These are the new leprechauns selling themselves.
These are leprechauns in the mineshaft in place of canaries, but the result is the same. The air is fetid and collapse, rebellion and reaction, on a wide scale, are imminent.
*The soft dictatorship has of course the means, often employed, to use lethal force to crush and intimidate any genuine effort at rebellion.