Friday, July 18, 2008

Juvenilization of Political Critique

There are countless attempts to introduce agitprop media onto the internet for wider distribution. This sometimes based on the rather naive notion that to place something on the internet is to literally make it available to all.* I have recently become acquainted with two instances of this as phenomenon which involve cartoon cats and puppets discussing neo-liberalism. These clips below are two rather clever instances of these efforts.

Neoliberalism (as per Hardt & Negri), w/ Boing Boing TV

The Pinky Show, on Illegal Immigration

Certainly they are only cursorily aimed at children and perhaps the cartoon and puppetry at work in these pieces is aimed a kind of low-budget production with some aesthetic effect--to inject seemingly subversive material in the inauspicious trappings of children's programming. Moreover, there is clearly a history of radical comics, cartooning, and puppetry (as Art & Revolution and Bread & Puppets will remind). However, I wonder if the overall aesthetic suggests the pursuit of some ideal addressee for the didactic--the juvenilized viewer addressed as if approaching the hermeneutic situation without prejudices. Along with the double function of introducing uncomplicated versions of leftist argumentation, I wonder if we do not also accrue an addressee whose image can only be a child. Might we read these as representative of some crisis for the left in the West smacking of Takashi Murakami's claims that the infantile obsession in Japanese culture emerges from an experience of national "castration" by the United States? As if leftist critiques in the faces of the radical restructuring of global capitalism and le pensee unique (aka TINA) can only emerge from the mouths of anthropomorphic kittens and sock puppets.

* which already assumes too much, as if search engines were without heirarchization or algorithmic meddling with results. As is the common assumption of college freshmen, still in love with twitter and facebook. Not to mention the radical global inequalities the underpin internet access in the first place despite misguided efforts to produce crank-powered lap-tops for the Third World.