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Vogue India and "runner-up-ization" - click opera
February 2010
 
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Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008 11:58 am
Vogue India and "runner-up-ization"

31CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)

You seem very sure that your aesthetic is THE aesthetic. There's another aspect of the "post-materialist" aesthetic which is really about oneupmanship. It's the aristocrat with his threadbare carpets and shabby suit who looks down on the parvenus who "buy their own furniture". When the upper middle class feel financially threatened by the nouveaux riches, they move on to other more subtle social signifiers.

Are you so very sure it's wrong of Bombay youth to want to hang out in malls and wear Western brands? Your exoticising of the poor and the "ethnic" very much belongs to a certain kind of sensibility. Dare I say it a certain liberal middle-class Western sensibility. Are you, in fact, simply trying to impose your own Western notion of aesthetics? Maybe what you're proposing is the equivalent of some Indian asking you to dress in a shellsuit and hang out in McDonalds?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)

Maybe what you're proposing is the equivalent of some Indian asking you to dress in a shellsuit and hang out in McDonalds?

Your metaphor would only make me a reactionary if trickledown really did work, really was the tide that floated all boats. And the history of India under the British -- or the poverty stats for today's India -- seem to suggest that trickledown is not happening. Instead, a colonial occupation which sapped India and set its own industrialisation process back centuries has been replaced by a neo-imperial global system which has pretty much the same effect.

The weakness of my argument is probably that I mix aesthetic and economic arguments, but I can't help that -- I have econo-moralistic eyes. But if I'm "imposing my Western notion of aesthetics" I'm going about it a strange way, aren't I? Why would I be condemning my own system in that case and championing the systems it displaces?


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)

Why would I be condemning my own system in that case and championing the systems it displaces?

That's precisely what romantic-minded Westerners have always done, though. We want the exotic to look properly "exotic". We don't want to traipse through hundreds of miles of virgin forest in New Guinea only to find that the lost tribe dresses in nylon shorts and teeshirts instead of penis sheaths and warpaint. You're craving for an ethnic authenticity that the "ethnics" themselves don't necessarily want. My analogy with shellsuits and McDonalds is about the fact that in the West, the middle class doesn't romanticise the aesthetics of its own underclass. From that perspective, you can see that middle-class Indians might not want to either. What actually seems appealingly "Other" to them might be horribly banal to us. But you're bossily telling them they've got it wrong.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)

My analogy with shellsuits and McDonalds is about the fact that in the West, the middle class doesn't romanticise the aesthetics of its own underclass.

Good lord, you've obviously never seen a copy of Vice magazine! Or listened to a Blur album! Or... or...


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008 11:30 am (UTC)

...or encountered those weird marginal movements we call Socialism and Christianity!


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