Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Resistance is Futon

On a rather glum note, the graffitied chimney and urban resistance that impressed me on arrival are both virtually defunct. The chimney is in the process of demolition as I write, while the planned mall at St Kilda has got the go ahead. Of course the Save St Kilda campaign was always Nimbyism rather than an outlet of anarcho-syndicalist collective action, but it was the lesser evil against a behemoth of anonymous purchase power. Doesn't this country have enough fucking malls as it is? The forces of banalification win again.

I visited one of the places myself recently (all in the name of sociological research you understand) to go to Ikea. My God, how can one place inspire such contrary emotions? On one level, I love it. Everywhere you look there is elegant yet functional design, and all at low, low prices. Surely this is the realisation of the modernist dream? Well, you can almost convince yourself "yes", when you notice that everything in the store (bar the gourmet food items) is stamped with 'Made in China'. The products are so cheap not because we live in a socialist paradise but because some other poor bastard lives in a communist hell. They are produced not by smiling workers who get a fair share of their output, but by depressed non-unionised near-slaves, who work 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week in the grim factories of a pseudo-Maoist regime keen to swallow the phallus of neo-liberalism. What awfulness. And all around are pictures (not unlike Maoist icons) of the smarmy Scandinavian designers who have drawn up these sleek commodities. Their smiles beam out, as well they might, having been educated in the inclusive and affluent 'Social Model' before foisting the hard labour onto some faceless yellow-skinned drones. It was almost unbearable, but I soothed my soul by buying an excellent chopping board, in which the knife is hidden within the board itself! In an age when Slavoj Žižek writes copy for Abercrombie & Fitch what else would one do?

Sunday, 4 November 2007

In Loompa Land

Still two weeks to go and even a political junkie like myself is bored with this campaign. Thanks to a six month trickle of government propaganda everyone is worn out. I cannot even muster outrage at the Coalition's cheap anti-union campaign.

Last night I watched 'The Last Mitterrand' and I was struck by the President's declaration that "I am the last of the great Presidents, after me there will be only accountants and money men". Whether or not one regards Mitterrand as a great man the latter part of his statement is painfully true. In the post-Thatcher/Reagan West there is no room for great men, for grand dreams or proud goals, there is only finance. A dour Scottish bank manager rules Britain, making a mockery of the fact that he is a "Labour" PM. The greasy weasel Sarkozy is busy dismantling the Gaullist state, while in Australia the choice is between two dull-as-dishwater accountants. Howard's ideology amounts to little more than "keeping interest rates low" while Rudd champions his "economic conservatism", believing it to be the key to victory. And most likely he is right. There are no Gough Whitlams anymore.

The Melbourne Racing Festival began this weekend and showed the new breed of Homo Economicus in all its glory. Women in big hats have always dominated the landscape at these types of events, but the specimens on show here are particularly hilarious. Saggy, orange cleavage hangs out everywhere and Kath and Kim-esque screeching voices ring through the city as sozzled slags roam around following a day of drinking and imagined sophistication. They stagger on broken high heels, envisaging themselves as Princess Grace, wowing the crowds with their elegance whilst looking for the next glass of cheap 'champagne'. They're a walking billboard for the New Vulgarity. I thought that seeing a man with dribble on his cheek and a silk tie around his head Rambo-style was the lowpoint but I was wrong, the best was saved for a tv advert:

"Melbourne Cup Day:

Outrageous Behaviour: Safe Bet

(image of man in suit urinating in a bush despite men's toilets being in view)

Pashing a Stranger: Outside Chance

(image of man in suit dry humping woman with high-heeled bare legs splayed)

Enjoying an Unbeatable Taste: Dead Cert

(image of Nando's family pack)

Nando's: Pre-order your Racing Day meal now!"

It would be easy but unfair to blame this entirely on the Nouveau Riche, after all it's not just the monied-up plebs who have succumbed, as a glance at the Gen Y royals and the awful clubs they frequent will attest. We live in a brave new world where bling is king; the true legacy of the 1980s.

There was some controversy a few years back about whether or not Mrs Thatcher would get a state funeral. But wouldn't this would be an insult to everything she stood for? She is no Mitterrand. Surely the best tribute would be to let her body decompose and then sell the corporal mulch for fertiliser at a tidy profit. Perhaps they could even use that orange hair as dye for a fake-tan, rubbing her into the wrinkling tits of the rich. Thank you Maggie and goodbye.

What finer salute could we give?