quarta-feira, outubro 21, 2009

A Note on Andy Warhol


The Nazi Reichsminister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels convinced Adolf Hitler that the status of capital of world fashion, art, entertainment and sophistication would fairly be transferred to Berlin after the invasion of Paris, where the Nazi regime would control and shape world culture. It is known today that among many of Hitler’s idyllic convictions, this one did not turn out to be real, not even during any moment of his period of power over Europe. The pen is mightier than the sword and by pen I mean freedom of speech, religion, thought, beliefs, life values and above all the individual right to free creativity. National Socialism banned the cultural and scientific elites away from the old Continent and with it celebrity culture. The United States of America readily became the safe haven of the free world, the only place where intellectual and cultural fresh breading was possible and safe. After World War II, even with the extinction of right wing totalitarian regimes, celebrity culture in the US and Europe suffered dramatic changes and the hegemony of Paris was lost forever. The big depression ended with the impulse on economy generated by the New Deal, the war effort and programs of international intervention like the Marshall plan. The industrial tissue was revitalized together with an increase in the average income of US citizens, which allowed the accessibility to new products and habits of consumerism. In this context, the raise of television (tv) considerably curbed the power of radio, making of image and motion major components in defining the style of celebrities that previously relied mainly on printed papers/magazines and on the ironed and aseptic tone of radio. The financial independence of women due to their increased presence in the job market was also a major factor in shaping celebrity culture.
From this period of dramatic changes in the popular accessibility to technology, information and luxury goods until today, Andy Warhol played a highly influential role in defining celebrity culture by understanding the changes that were occurring in the US and by finding a way of using and conceptually manipulating their significance in the daily life of every average citizen. The need for “15 min of fame came”, together with TV. Probably due to his intimate relationship with his mother, contrary to the highly sexist, misogynist and misanthropist Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol understood women and the public in general or at least knew how to address their needs. The way Warhol changed the lives of all citizens independently of their financial status is very controversial and in a cultural way as Socialist as Marxism, but it is consensually stated that he did it by manipulating celebrity culture to levels of importance that still exist today. In opposition to Europe, the cultural heterogeneity of the US is homogeneously distributed throughout the territory, where millions simultaneously access the same information channels. Warhol was an expert in the use of this highway of information to both understand and change the US. Today I ask my self if by understanding and changing the US, wasn’t Warhol understanding and changing himself? Where is the line of separation between US celebrity culture and Warhol? I think that today they are the same thing. Warhol’ ideas, way of action and fingerprints are alive in Hip-hop, in Paris Hilton, in Puff Daddy and all celebrity culture today; the pen is mightier than life.

3 comentários:

Nuno Vieira Matos disse...

Andy was perhaps more a catalyst to common people anxieties for self-esteem than anything else. Could I say that he was a false bohemiam? Perpetuating the celebration by others, industrializing creativity ad nauseum; presenting an alternative american dream and not an alternative TO the american dream. Warhol or the perpetuation of a certain ideology (a social reproduction as per Marx)?

alexandre disse...

Camarada, obrigado pelo comentário. Concordo com o que escreves, mas num contexto muito próprio que a meu ver merece um post. Vou nadar uns dias no meu mar das ideias e depois escrevo qualquer coisa sobre isso.
Grande abraço.

Nuno Vieira Matos disse...

E eu que adoro o teu mar de ideias só me posso sentir satisfeito por o agitar um pouco.
Grande abraço também para ti! Miss you