Sunday, October 14, 2012
Jeebus Christmas dancing on a tasty Ritz Cracker, the Intertubes (or at least parts thereof) do not understand the concept of "metaphors."
Posted above is a brilliant video by Boots Riley and The Coup called "The Guillotine." The entire video is metaphorical, of course, given its invocations of "The Wiz" and "Les Mis" and who knows what all. Boots and The Coup are Oakland, CA, artistes, and you don't mess with them. You just don't.
So hotflashcarol posted the video over at FDL the other day along with a link to an article on it at Wired. This caused something of a stir because one of the mavens of the site became enraged at the "suggestion of violence" in the video and commenced to denounce and renounce the video, everyone involved with it and hfc and all their works and descendants unto the seventh generation. Or something.
I've run into this situation a surprising number of times in my perambulations around the InterTubes and Teh Webs since dirt was new. The use of metaphor simply escapes the consciousness of certain individuals who assert some kind of "authority" within the Web-O-Sphere, and typically something like All Hell breaks loose as various posters try to edumacate their stupid asses.
Trouble is, it never works. There is no learning curve whatsoever. Whoever is objecting to the metaphorical statement or video or whatever typically never does anything but object, denounce and renounce and then disappears. There is no interaction, discussion, or engagement. Thus, there can be no learning, and that seems to be the point: simply declare, upon Authority, and be gone.
So it was at FDL.
The individual who objected is known there as a curmudgeon and spoil-sport in any case (there are a number of such high in FDL's hierarchy; it has always been so, sadly. When it was first manifested, it really made me wonder about Jane's judgement, let alone the judgement of those she delegates, but I have since learned it's a somewhat more complicated situation than might first appear to be the case...)
hotflashcarol removed her content from the post, stating that she didn't want to get involved with the Objector, as she was well familiar with his ways, and she wanted no truck with him at all. The post and thread however was maintained for sometime afterward -- the post with no content, the comments mostly slamming the Objector for idiocy and stupidity and celebrating the musical and visual dynamism of Boots Riley and The Coup. And, importantly, mentioning over and over again that "it is a metaphor."
You would think after a while it would sink in, but as is the way on the InterWebs, it never does. I'm convinced it's because there are some online devotees who are simply incapable of comprehending the concept of Metaphor. It doesn't -- and apparently can't -- occur to them that artists (especially) utilize metaphor all the time, it is their stock in trade, and that the Metaphor is not a literal evocation or invocation; it is a means to more fully appreciate and understand... something.
The objection was to the "suggestion" of violence in the video; the "suggestion" was that of the Guillotine, a widely recognized Metaphor in Revolutionary and Resistance circles. No one I know of is actually advocating the employment of guillotines, at least not as they were used in the French Revolution. But their image is apparently a powerful one, and certain people are -- perhaps justifiably -- terrified of them. The Guillotine gives them the willies, bad. The image of the Guillotine, and its use as a metaphor for the Power of the People makes some people believe that the Mob will start chopping off heads any minute if they are not curbed and controlled. No such thing is the case, but the fear is somehow overpowering to some people.
As many people pointed out, the Guillotine Metaphor is not a literal invocation of violence, nor is it meant to be. It is an invocation of Power, the Power of the People. "We got the Guillotine" -- they've got (ie: the Authorities have) the army and the police. They impose violence on the People each and every day, without let or hindrance, and that is the real violence of our current condition. The Guillotine Metaphor suggests their violence against the People is subject to interference.
But all this should be obvious.
Really, it should.
Unfortunately, on the InterTubes, especially in the so-called Progressive Sphere, it isn't. Never has been. I'm convinced it never will be.