Sunday, September 5, 2010

Devo and Batman, Inc.

Arguably the biggest punk-related event of the year (New Wavey though it was), measured at least in part by how many people care, was the release of a new Devo studio album, Something for Everybody, ostensibly issued, once more, from the mysterious conglomerate Devo Inc.

And arguably the biggest comics-nerd-type event is the impending start of the Grant Morrison comics series Batman Inc., which finally makes good on the common-sense idea that occurred to almost all of us geeks as children: If Batman is a product of training and technology — not any special, accidental superpowers — why not franchise out the name and m.o. and have Batmen all over the place? Already, DC Comics has elevated former sidekick Dick Grayson to “Batman” status, so there are at least two skulking around.

My vague zeitgeisty impression — and my vague zeitgeisty impressions tend to be correct, if I do say so myself — is that the longstanding tendency of lefty-anarchist-hipster types (like Devo and Grant Morrison) to use corporate tropes ironically is becoming just a bit less ironic. Could a sea change be imminent in which the creative types wake up to the fact that if government is in the process of bankrupting itself and all of us, then maybe the capitalist model isn’t so heinous by comparison after all? Morrison at the very least admits in a recent interview that he’s tired of politics.

A transition to creatives supporting capitalism will have to be treated as a guilty pleasure at first — thus the semi-parodic Mad Men and increasingly frequent Ayn Rand jokes — but it could be the change that saves us, either just before we go over the socialist brink or sometime later as we crawl, bloodied, back up out of the abyss and vow not to make the same mistakes again. (May my little “Conservatism for Punks” essay next month help the process along in some way.)

And if you want to see hipster leftists fighting against the right while still promoting freedom, witness what Robert Rodriguez and company have wrought in the year’s best film, Machete. (Note that I do not say “best film of the year so far,” since I think the odds of Tron: Legacy being superior are slim.)

P.S. And of course: to see hip debaters Lilit Marcus and Jen Dziura sparring over capitalism-related issues, attend our Tuesday 8pm Debate at Lolita Bar on the question “Are Bosses Usually Jerks?” But first: tomorrow, for Labor Day, my Book Selection of the Month entry explains how our modern corporate world arose, by looking at Martin Sklar’s The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism 1890-1916.

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