This is neoliberalism’s revenge on young people in that it elevates profits over justice and the practice of moral witnessing and in doing so creates artists and other young people who mimic a racist and authoritarian politics and are completely clueless about it...reported
Celebrity culture is the underside of the new illiteracy in America, the soft edge of fascism with its unbridled celebration of wealth, narcissism, and glamor. My comments on Emmitt Till in the beginning of my book, “Stormy Weather.
Katrina and the Politics of Disposability” point to a different use of memory, one that engages in moral witnessing and tries to prevent justice from dying in each of us, in the public sphere, and in our relations with others. It is worth repeating as a counter narrative to Lil Wayne’s complicity with the modes of lyrical fascism that now circulate in the media like a poisonous toxin.
What was left of Emmet Till arrived home in Chicago in September 1955. Determined to make visible the horribly mangled face and twisted body of the child as an expression of racial hatred and killing, Mamie Till, the boy’s mother, insisted that the coffin, interred at the A.A. Ranier Funeral Parlor in the South Side of Chicago, be left open for four long days.
While mainstream news organizations ignored the horrifying image, Jet magazine published an unedited photo of Till’s face taken while he lay in his coffin. Shaila Dawn points out that “[m]utilated is the word most often used to describe the face of Emmett Till after his body was hauled out of the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi. Inhuman is more like it: melted, bloated, missing an eye, swollen so large that its patch of wiry hair looks like that of a balding old man, not a handsome, brazen 14-year-old boy.” The Jet photos not only made visible the violent effects of the racial state; they also fuelled massive public anger, especially among blacks, and helped to launch the Civil Rights Movement.
We live at a time when heroes of the civil rights generation such Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Angela Davis are now replaced by business tycoons such as Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and Henry Paulson.
The older pioneers sacrificed in order to alleviate the suffering of others, while the new “celebrity heroes” of the media drawn from corporate culture live off the suffering of others. Celebrity culture is a cesspool of greed, over paid financial looters, and spineless media pundits who reproduce the market-driven and politically paralysing sexist and racist grammars of suffering, state violence, and disposability.
Maybe Lil Wayne should read about the history of the civil rights movement before he fashions lyrics that sound as if they were written by the racists that killed this young man. Maybe the American public should go further and ask what kind of country creates people like Lil Wayne and what can be done to create a formative culture that would stop this kind of racism and sexism in its tracks, rather than reward it.