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Che Sells
March 1, 2003 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Stop. Selling. Che. Doctor, Revolutionary, Murderer? Whoever he was, it don't mostly matter when he's this generation and the last's favourite rebelposterboy. Does it even matter, any more, the history behind such powerful brand semantics? It is, apparently, enough to be a symbol nowadays, even if in the end you're one of only ignorance. Is this the ultimate in simulacra? And will They ever stop marketing our martyrs? So who was Che Guevara? And what does he want with our children?
posted by armoured-ant (42 comments total)

 
He wants them for MUNCHY-MUNCH.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:03 PM on March 1, 2003


It is, apparently, enough to be a symbol nowadays
all your major corporations count on it.
posted by quonsar at 6:05 PM on March 1, 2003


It's amazing the legacy that good looks will get you in this world.
posted by clevershark at 6:13 PM on March 1, 2003


And how about all those great deals on Columbus Day? :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:19 PM on March 1, 2003


Or "Presidents' Week" car sales...
posted by clevershark at 6:21 PM on March 1, 2003


when i listen to radio rebelde (Streaming revolutionary, critical, leftist, socialist, anarchist, anti-fascist, anti-captitalist, anti-american music around the world 24/7) i get a pop-up advertising a free plasm tv, and the offer is restricted to residents of the usa. soooo anti-american... (and don't "born dead" write catchy little tunes?)

It's amazing the legacy that good looks will get you in this world.

he was also largely responsible for the success of a guerilla campaign that, when it started, looked like a sad joke. do you really think people will be wearing dicaprio t-shirts fifty years from now?

hasta la victoria, compadre.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:28 PM on March 1, 2003


True, he must have been quite something if someone as far left as Fidel Castro considered him too extreme and sold him out to Bolivia.
posted by clevershark at 6:30 PM on March 1, 2003


anyone interested in him should read the John Lee Anderson biography Che: A Revolutionary Life. despite the snickering above, he seemed to be an amazingly moral person who only wanted what everyone who suffered under the American thumb in those days wanted, freedom from American interference in South and Central American government. the chapter on the American overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala is not to be missed. maybe we would disagree with his actions, but his motivation was unquestionably the right one.
posted by callicles at 6:43 PM on March 1, 2003


he was also largely responsible for the success of a guerilla campaign that, when it started, looked like a sad joke. do you really think people will be wearing dicaprio t-shirts fifty years from now?

That's my point exactly. Selling pretty DiCaprio boxes to people who are just buying pretty DiCaprio boxes is fine. It'll choke on its own emptiness. But selling someone who actually (at one point) meant something - accomplished something - to those same people, well, you're selling boxes with something in them, and those people are ignorant of it, and don't understand it.

These people that are wearing t-shirts with Guevara on 50 years from then aren't doing it because he was largely responsible for the success of anything. They're doing it because Che is the mode. The Che logo is very cool and they do not know why and they are still buying and that is what is wrong.
posted by armoured-ant at 6:44 PM on March 1, 2003


Fidel sold him out because he was a threat to Castro's consolidation of power, Che had more influence with the people but he was also a radical and not someone to run a country but as a martyr Che is un-matched (except Jesus).
posted by stbalbach at 6:50 PM on March 1, 2003


Besides, isn't the selling of the very highly-idealized Che something squarely aimed at he petty bourgeois youth of today? Ernesto would be spinning in his grave...
posted by clevershark at 6:51 PM on March 1, 2003


I just read Looking for History - it offers a great overview of Latin American political culture and is a good primer for anyone wanting to get a quick grasp on the region and it's players such as Che & Castro.
posted by wfrgms at 6:58 PM on March 1, 2003


For years I didn't know that Jim Fitzpatrick is the artist responsible for the classic Che (based on Alberto Korda's photo), pictured on everything from t-shirts to beaded curtains.

I'd like to think Che still speaks to people, but you're right--it's probably just fashion.
(Very immature of me, but does anyone else suppress a Beavis giggle when the Colombian "F.A.R.C." is mentioned on the news? They could have picked a better acronym.)
posted by Shane at 7:02 PM on March 1, 2003



posted by gwint at 7:27 PM on March 1, 2003


Fabulous gallery of Che portraits by artist Rene Mederos (Cuba) 1933-1996.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2003


maybe we would disagree with his actions, but his motivation was unquestionably the right one.

Oh, well then. He meant well.
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:46 PM on March 1, 2003


I always assumed it was the mode to wear a Che shirt to show that you know about Che.
posted by mblandi at 7:50 PM on March 1, 2003


Thank you, callicles. That was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. You can harldy fault the man for his appeal, though. I guess dying young adds a touch of romaticism, but he lived and acted with a passion that was a pure joy to read about.
posted by adampsyche at 8:16 PM on March 1, 2003


This man honestly believed that taking a rifle and killing people in the name of revolucion was an act of love.

That doesn't seem much different from the actions of certain deranged serial killers. Except that you don't see too many people wearing David Berkowitz's likeness on t-shirts, not around New York anyway.
posted by clevershark at 8:57 PM on March 1, 2003


clevershark: was george washington a serial killer? what about jefferson ("the tree of liberty must, at times, be watered with the blood of revolution"). condemning a revolutionary for killing people suggests that you have impossibly high standards.

yes, i'm being serious.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:32 PM on March 1, 2003


you know... there's a refused album that begins with a sample of the same speech from this site. Anyone know what it is they're chanting? I've been wondering that forever...
posted by ph00dz at 11:08 PM on March 1, 2003


madamjujujive, groovy gallery! Thanks! I especially love the Fauvian jungle one.
posted by dejah420 at 12:38 AM on March 2, 2003


Lest we forget.

Communism and Cop-killers Commodified for Upper-Middle Class Capitalists Kids Inc. :P
posted by hama7 at 12:51 AM on March 2, 2003


Anti-Communist Action.
posted by hama7 at 12:53 AM on March 2, 2003


Stop trolling hama7.

Exactly what relevance to the thread topic do your comments have?

One trick axe-grinding pony.
posted by asok at 2:34 AM on March 2, 2003


Communism has killed no more people than capitalism has. State terrrorism has killed many, many people.

Maybe you are getting ideology confused with autocracy?
posted by asok at 3:02 AM on March 2, 2003


phoodz, the crowd are chanting "viva, viva, viva la revolución".
posted by Zootoon at 3:06 AM on March 2, 2003


the fact that he so clearly annoys our more right wing friends here suggests that he isn't just a pretty face. an empty box wouldn't jerk hama7's chain quite so nicely, would it? or is it just empty for "everyone else"? is s@l starts posting here i think i'm going to have to get a poster myself...

callicles + adampsyche - do you know if that book is better than castañeda's compañero (the only biog i have of him - it was pretty solid, but not a particularly gripping read)?

random musing on the "number dead as goals against your team" meme: the big revolutions were responses to pretty horrible feudal lifestyles (which were capitalist at this level of crayola-politics). i don't know of any source that estimates the number who died from poverty in pre-soviet russia, pre-mao china. i guess you could argue (at least, people in protestant countries; here in chile most churches have shrines to the victims of abortion) that children's deaths aren't that important, or that the population was smaller then...
posted by andrew cooke at 3:22 AM on March 2, 2003


For some reason this thread makes me think of Eric Idle in The Rutles.

"Here we are in Che Stadium, named after the famed Cuban guerrilla leader, Che... Stadium."

Well, it's funnier to hear than it is to read.
posted by litlnemo at 4:48 AM on March 2, 2003


I have a little painted clay Che a friend bought off a local in Cuba. It's like a little three inch piller of 100% irony.
posted by Leonard at 7:34 AM on March 2, 2003



posted by jfuller at 8:25 AM on March 2, 2003


He looked a lot like che guevara
Drove a diesel van
Kept his gun in quiet seclusion.
Such a humble man
The only survivor
Of the national people's gang.

posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on March 2, 2003


Oddly enough those who claim that we can't fault Che's motives should remember 9/11/01.

Clearly the "chief terrorists" weren't in it for the money, led austere lives even while in the US, and were acting for what they considered to be "the greatest good". When will we start seeing t-shirts emblazoned with Mohammed Atta's mug in the West?

Oh, I forgot... he wasn't nearly good-looking enough.
posted by clevershark at 9:30 AM on March 2, 2003


don't be retarded.
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:40 AM on March 2, 2003


I once got a book on closeout for a dime written by a guy who was there was Che was executed. He was very weak and worn out at the end of the life. He went out with a wimper, not a bang. The writer was later charged with smuggling drugs into the United States.
posted by stevefromsparks at 10:16 AM on March 2, 2003


"But the North American form of action requires accomplices. They could not, as in ancient times of the Roman empire, hurl their legions..."

-Che Guevara. from, "Fidels Trip To New York". Grove Press. 1967.

I have the 'Black Cat' edition, 1968. And i bought it for a dime (.10) right on it)

Believe it or Not

proof that even Che thought America nothing like the Roman empire.
posted by clavdivs at 1:26 PM on March 2, 2003


oh, bad cite, the title of the book is 'Che Guevara Speaks' the fidel trip was the title to an excerpt from one of his speeches.
posted by clavdivs at 1:28 PM on March 2, 2003


hey kids buy my t-shirt!
posted by X-00 at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2003


Actually, a feudalistic society is not capitalist under either a neo-classical or Marxist evaluation, even at the level of "crayola politics". A great portion of the Communist Manifesto is dedicated to elaborating what the differences between then-modern capitalism and the previous feudal organisations and structures that had existed.

Frankly, I don't like Che because of his ideology, but the fact that he is dead and unsuccessful at his goal of a worldwide socialist revolution means that I don't see much point in getting worked up over him either way.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 5:34 PM on March 2, 2003


Sigh.

Close your tags, big boy. We have link buttons for this, nowadays.

:P
posted by armoured-ant at 6:20 PM on March 2, 2003


A little OT... the link/bold/italics button doesn't work in Mozilla 1.2.1 (Linux).
posted by clevershark at 6:26 PM on March 2, 2003


Bleh. K. And, on closer inspection, it was a quotes problem. Ack. Dis interweb is teh sux0r!
posted by armoured-ant at 1:12 AM on March 3, 2003


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