I have a submission to make in this hot weather of opinions. I want to write about two seemingly unrelated events and perhaps argue that they are not only related but are mutually constitutive of each other.
A few days ago, Syrian Campaigners launched a new advertisement showing children of war holding Pokemon Go cards. The intent was to compel you to “catch them” as you go about catching Pokemon in real life. Unless and until you are living under a rock, you know that Pokemon Go is an Augmented reality game that is designed to allow gamers to go ‘outside of their homes and catch Pokemons’ – You unlock levels as you catch new ones. It’s a rage. I suppose the Syrian campaigners wanted to use the popularity of the game for their purpose and really focus on raising awareness about the ravages caused by the war.
When I first saw the campaign, I was appalled by it on so many levels that I wanted to throw up. I don’t want to criticise the campaign at all, or the campaigners or the idea behind it but I want to reiterate in this post how sickening this was for me. The real tragedy is that this is no one’s fault and no one gives a damn about it.
“Pokemon Go” in another context has broken all records, made its parent company billion times richer, changed the gaming landscape, brought strangers together and among other things helped in discovering dead bodies. It is extraordinarily successful because it appeals to everyone and even the harshest critics are being snagged into accepting that it may be the one reason why you’d want to go outside. That is just a sad defence of the game. But when the Syrian campaigners decide to appropriate the logic of the game – to go out and catch to unlock other levels of an unreal universe – I mostly stand baffled. And wonder, what compels us to not only be okay with it but widely share the pictures and empathise.
However, there are no moral claims to make here – it is quite a successful habit we have made for ourselves. An awesome product has an awesome brand value, and if anyone can piggy ride on it – it actually benefits the party. My problem is that it is operating in the same universe as consumer products. The campaigners not only reduce the children to an extended version of the brand but also help in actively propagating the game’s subtext which is, ‘to catch them’. Read widely, it means to ‘catch’ your attention to what has been the most horrible outcome of the war. Our ‘humanity’ it seems to me is reduced to the most basic of consumer function – to want to see tragedy as a commodity that we desire. In this sense, I am inclined to push it forward and write here that only when things are ‘sold’ are we aware of its form and nature. We cannot see war or the game for it is but for the desires it is able to produce. War and Game are reduced to each other’s most intimate logic. This is not a novel idea and I am not pursuing it for its novelty.
IN other news Donald J Trump has now been officially announced as the Presidential Candidate for the most important military position in the world. If it were the Zambezi, you’d have trouble remembering the political system operating there. Almost all important and influential media outlet has called out on his bigotry and orange head. His sexism, racism, and hate filled diatribe are renounced for ethical reasons and perhaps his grotesqueness is being called out as the worst in history comparable to Hitler. But Hitler was not Hitler for his people – and nobody cared about the Jews till Hitler decide to attack the rest of the world with his propaganda. It was an attack on sovereignty that really made Hitler what he was.
I digress – moving on to Trump. I think he is not a sexist, racist, bigot. Nor is he short sighted or merely a fool. Actually, he may be all of those things but he doesn’t have to be. More than anything Trump represents American capitalism at its finest – he is foremost a business man and he has not come to ‘politics’ to help the society. He has come to the political arena to win it and to win it like a BOSS. If you are an academic this may seem as a very simple explanation but really if the political outcomes of a system are dependent upon the qualities of its leader then Trump is telling us that qualities of a leader has never mattered. It is how you see your electorate that matters. Here are some American gazing notes, and I invite everyone to disabuse me if I am mistaken. After eight years, there is a rampant need for change, it is an
After eight years, there is a rampant need for change, it is an anti-incumbency desire which is merited because not everyone in the USA are like the democrats. So two successive terms later, it was only obvious that the Republicans will have a field day.No surprise, when the contest was from day one focussed on them and their possible candidates. As much as the media hates Trump, they also love Trump. No one had decided to ignore him and he was always jumping the guns to be in the news, because Donald J Trump is nothing if not a Businessman investing in the highest of all stakes, that he can in a ‘business’ that he can possibly be most invested in. Trumpism (please that’s what it is) is a belief that politics can be won on consolidating the most aspirations of a class that has been left alone for eight years. Trumpism is a form of politics that doesn’t care about the rest as long as the consolidation takes place. I consciously want to move away from mobilisation to consolidation – Trump gets on the stage as an arrogant brat, to tell us that our most intimate fears can be and must be conquered. He doesn’t care about building walls in reality, he wants to sell you that the walls can be built and that it is necessary that we buy in to the idea of building that wall. He is top notch salesman. He wants to ‘catch’ your fears and market it like it was a brand that can be bought. And he is doing it right.
He doesn’t care about policy, because his consolidated support doesn’t care about policy. They have been left out of it for eight years, they don’t even want to listen. In my opinion, humble at the very least, he doesn’t care about them either. He, however, knows that the people who want to support him do not care about it. So he doesn’t say what his policy is going to be, he says the key words – war, fight, USA. That’s all he needs to say. Donald J Trump is an American crisis.
The media is buzzing around him as if he was a queen bee, they want him to fail so bad. The media wants Donald Trump to be a nice man, to be a non arrogant politician wanting to do good for his country. They want to cover him excessively and widely so that they assume when he falls, he is embarrassed or when he rises, they are there. This is an America sponsored freak show. For my part, I don’t think he will be less arrogant if he loses the elections, in fact he will be remembered because he had the courage to be an American entrepreneur who had enough to contest the highest office.
The Syrian Campaigners and Trump can be said to occupy two very different life worlds – one appealing to humanity and the other appealing to your hate. But both of them are essentially using the same strategies to capture our imagination- strategies and tactics that are not outside of the pervasive universal ideology whose motto is ‘to sell’ and how, ‘to catch our attention’. We are living in a world which does not require more opinions and suggestions, it definitely does not require more hate it also most definitely does not require lectures on moral conduct. But, we are constantly being dragged to want all of these and to always build on it.
When you look in to the eyes of the Syrian children holding a Poke Banner, you are not looking into the child, you are looking at the banner. You are looking at a moral collapse of a world that does not differentiate between the banner and the child. Businessmen like Trump who have been at the peaks of this moral collapse know this and contextualise it for their most immediate needs. We are not against the war, we are against the deprivation caused by the war. We are not against arrogance, we are against an arrogant politician. We are reduced to the most basic.
And maybe we are very basic, but this is my rant, and I am not saying I am happy with it and do not find problems with it. Of course I do, this is not intended as an academic or journalistic piece of writing both of which are not only demanding but require a certain distanciation from passion. My rant is a whine for the world around me, for the need to understand its radical potential to transcend them, and to appeal that you don’t have to buy in to everything but in to a respectful deliberation that at the very least may allow us to account for the unfolding of our times.