Student Union Building, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1968
(Paul Schweikher Associates)
Playing #doom on the piano
Happy birthday #Nietzsche…
"Gott ist tot" (Nietzsche)… "Nietzsche ist auch" (Gott)… "Stimmt!" (Nietzsche)
In August this year I created a piece of prose that was featured in the Washington Post, The Guardian and Huffington Post, alongside dozens of other news media outlets from all over the planet.
It was such a throwaway scribble, and via such a throwaway medium, that I didn’t notice the plaudits until the next time I read it, weeks later, and discovered that over 3000 people had liked it, dozens had commented on it, and some had shared links to quotes in the press.
The prose in question was an Amazon review. A spoof Amazon review for a product so silly that I felt obliged to lampoon it.
After the second US presidential debate, I found myself back on Amazon, reviewing binders (along with scores of other armchair satirists). These reviews garnered a similar amount of positive feedback, but also a degree of negative attention which had been absent from my earlier submission. That’s not surprising: Expressing a view on a single politician or party can be interpreted as partisan, although in my case I genuinely have no personal stake or interest in either of these parties…
"Partisan political statements or political statements of any nature should not be a part of http://Amazon.com. If allowed to continue, then it shows that Amazon supports these views and you will begin to lose loyal customers”
I’m assuming that this was a disgruntled Republican. The assertion though that private product forums are not spaces for open public debate immediately brought to mind the issues of “enclosure of the commons” that Slavoj Žižek writes about in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce.
In No Logo Naomi Klein explains the effects of this idea on our lives, describing the privatisation of once-public spaces: the (public) town square increasingly being replaced as the centre of social life by the ubiquitous (private) mall; the corporate sponsorship of colleges replacing classical academic freedom with a nuanced context that prescribes the limits of discussion.
I’ve seen the web develop from a constellation of independently-run boards and forums into a much more contained environment, wherein the majority of discussion takes place on a handful of privately-owned commercial platforms; Facebook alone is reported to account for 1 in 5 web page views in the US, and parallels can clearly be drawn between the privatisation of the web and the privatisation of public life.
Naomi Klein also describes skateboarding as a reaction to that dwindling of public space in cities - as an adaptation to a new landscape of concrete and car parks, and I see in the popular takeover of spaces like Amazon something similar: People wresting back ownership of languishing commercial property and turning it into somewhere to play.
The best trolols happening in regards to sexist pens on Amazon. LOVE IT!