Ideological kitsch

In an atmosphere where the lights are dimmed and with a mojito in hand, I can enjoy songs that in another context would seem hackneyed and pretentious with their corny lyrics. I put the critic in me to sleep and let myself go, if the situation warrants it, for those themes that rhyme “hurting sore” with “I adore,” and “makes me cry” with “must he die?” I can tolerate the romantic kitsch, but bad taste in politics is something I find intolerable. The abuse of images and slogans, repeated until they lose the emotive charge they once had, accentuates the abundant schmaltzyness in societies extremely dominated by ideology, like ours.

Some brief footage of a “Revolutionary Art Bazaar” on a main street in Old Havana, confirms my hypothesis about the decorative elements associated with an ideology. To buy, there, any of these insignias identified with a process, you have to pay with a different currency from that we are paid for our work. Curiously, the “icons” of selfless dedication to a social project are sold based on a clear relationship between supply and demand. In this way the money is transformed into a sweater, a cap or a backpack which is then exhibited like a relic, like some sliver of wood from utopia.

The faces that you see in this small shop are for many people—outside of Cuba—part of a counterculture to confront the status quo. They are the emblems which some call on in an attempt to change what they dislike about their respective societies. But on this Island it is just the opposite, those who look out at us from the posters and T-shirts are, for us, those who created the present order of things, the promoters of the system in which we have lived for fifty years. How could you wear any of these symbols without feeling that you are assuming the culture of power, the emblems of the masters?

16 thoughts on “Ideological kitsch

  1. It is a shame that in other parts of the world Che is also sold, other parts of the world where if people wanted could find out who Che really was, a cold blood assessin…A los cubanos de las generaciones pos Castro no los culpo porque se les adoctrina desde ninos a creer que el Che es un ejemplo a seguir, tengo mas de 20 anos fuera de Cuba y todavia recuerdo el lema que me ensenaron desde los 6 anos Pioneros por el comunismo, seremos como el Che… si esto no es adoctrinar, entonces que es? It is a shame that we Cubans are brainwashed since kindergarden to believe Che is a heroe when indeed he was all the contrary. Is is a shame this kind of merchandise still sells. Stop buying it! Che is not a heroe…

  2. Actually, you can buy the same Che-Guevara t-shirts all around the world – mostly because he looks so good there, partly because of the myth. I did not meet anyone wearing that t-shirt, who would know about Guevara more then “it was a great revolutionary, perfect man” etc.. People who know more do not wear it :-)
    I guess a t-shirt with Fidel won’t sell as well even in the shop :-))

  3. Love the irony of selling iconic t-shirts. promoting a socialist project through the underlying capitalist market or supply and demand . . . great translation!

  4. Yesterday I heard an interview with Olga Tañon and indeed, all that showed was having a negative IQ of -100.

    She compares the suffering endured by the daughter herself is sick, which is very sad, as only a mother can know how much pain is felt with a child under those conditions, but Olga’s trying to say that the rest of the world, they have to suffer like her,,,, that’s a very selfish thought,,, very stupid, because in his words “God sent him a daughter well and she has had to endure and go forward with such a punishment.”

    Olga,,, now I tell you, that the Robolucion, the Castros, and their mafia gang, were sent by the Devil!!!! , although we are all aware of your pain, you have no right to try to export such a tragedy to everyone else , including the Cubans, much less those in exile.

    The tyranny of the Castros, has nothing to do with pain and tragedy of yours, since for example, the Jews were suffering a million times more than you during the dark years of Hitler and his extermination campaign against the Jews people and the Cuban people have suffered millions of times more than you for over 50 years of repression, where thousands have died escaping to freedom, thousands have been killed, thousands have died in foreign wars Castros posted as “cannon fodder”, thousands have been sent to prison for expressing their thought, thousands have been forced into exile, thousands of mothers and fathers were not more to see their children or their children never saw their parents.

    To sum up this comment,,, Olga I’d like you asked the mother of the young man who was shot a few years ago, along with two others for trying to steal a boat to sail to the USA, but were captured and after a trial of 24 hours, the tyrant and his gang of mobsters sent him to shot,,, ask that mother!!!!,,, how and how great is her pain,,,, you at least, still you have your daughter, She has no one, they snatched, they killed him ,,,,, as if they were gods, evrything was executed with total impunity !!!,,,

    Olga, be brave, stand against this mother and ask her !!!!!!!

    Candido

  5. Dear friends,
    It’s possible that Panfilo’s unfair condemn has been commuted to a confinement in one of Havana’s Psychiatric Hospitals.
    We all know that it is a much worst punishment then been locked in jail. In a psychiatric hospital Panfilo will be “put under medication” without need it, he will be “helped” with electroshock without need it, he will stay there for undetermined time.
    We all know this kind of “medical treatment” designed for break the opposites will, we all know the case Mederos…. one of the torturer of Havana’s Psychiatric Hospital that was recognized living in Miami and was judged and condemn with the help of the victims …. so, do not stop asking freedom for Panfilo because now he is worst that before……. Freedom for Panfilo!!!!

  6. I hope the concert does not go to waste and that Juanes joins in when people start shouting Libertad! Otherwise the concert will have been useless. Since the only war in Cuba is one of terror and misery, not of an armed struggle, it follows that a “Peace” concert should advocate the harmony that can only result when fear, hunger and sensorship are eradicated, and respect for human rights restored.

    So come on Juanes, tighten your belt and wear your pants well as the Youtube song says. Do your job on the stand, as you yourself proclaim and explain what peace means – i.e. ask for peace, which can only be obtained with full liberty which equals human rights.

  7. Karel:

    Nothing unexpected is going to happen , may be some shouts heard of Freedom, Down Fidel, things like that, but nothing more.

    The only surprise admissible, would be if all the crowd gathered there, laden march to the Presidential Palace that is behind the Plaza and [edited out by your friendly English translator….], but above all, [edited out by your friendly English translator….].

    Candido

  8. Machete:

    Thanks for your kind answer, I was a little bit confused when I read your comment,,,,, coming from you, that always are supporting the cause against Castro and his mafia gang, I was took by surprised!!!

    Thanks for clarify my mind!!!,,and my wrong interpretation!!!

    Candido

  9. No. Someone just sent me the link for the Kanye thing and I thought about putting this blog into it. You can do it with any website. Sometimes I wonder about the internet though. Its pretty dumb sometimes. Useful in certain aspects …. but really freekin dumb sometimes.

    But no I love Yoani’s blog, I wasn’t making fun :) Mostly just continuing the Kanye West meme. :)

  10. Machete:

    I’m not sure, that is why I’m asking first, before I get any final conclusion, but , are you mocking or criticizing this blog?.

    Please, let me know.

    Thanks

    Candido

  11. Yoani’s post reminds me of the Tianamen square event in China, when students, having built their version of the statue of Liberty from pictures of the existing one, they had seen, but not knowing any popular or folk music due to airtight censorship, started singing the Internationale, Chinese national anthome, etc.

    Having been raised practically as caged chickens, sadly, it was the only music they knew, so they used it to express solidarity for their cause.

  12. Se enteraron de la sorpresa que hay preparada en el concierto de Juanes ??. Hasta Amaury Perez lo ha confirmado !! … todos los cubanos sabemos que sera el pedido del GRITO DE LIBETAD, LIBERTAD, LIBERTAD ! pregunta a tus conocidos si saben algo ?

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