Friday, September 04, 2009

When will the irony end?

"I think anyone who buys a t-shirt of Che has gotta be cool. If I see someone with a Che t-shirt, I think, 'He's got good taste'."
— Benicio Del Toro

As we know the Che shirt is a delicious irony. A man against capitalism and commodities becomes a commodity sold for capital. As for Del Toro’s quote, taste is an aesthetic that has little to do with fact, and the fact is Che was a murderer. Taste is also irrelevant when it comes to wearing the image of an assassin. Wearing a Che shirt is either a bonafide proof of ignorance, or a possible declaration of hatred for human life.

Che: a man against capitalism and commodities becomes a commodity sold for capital. For a while I thought the Che shirt was the epitome of this irony, but then a greater irony developed –the Che movie. The American Che movie phenomena of the new millennium are unprecedented. In the past 7 years we have seen 8 different versions of Che in the US alone. The attention is nauseating and some of his portrayals are indeed myopic. Nevertheless, the irony is all the more exquisite; after all, nothing says capitalism like Hollywood.

Up until today I thought that Hollywood would be the apex of the Che irony, and I was proven wrong. To my surprise, this latest bit of irony has been going on long before the Che shirt and the Che movie. This bit of irony surpasses any shirt, movie, or clueless comment.

In Vallegrande, Bolivia Che is known as San Ernesto de La Higuera

Every October 9th there is a tribute to Che with flowers, candles, and invocations. That’s right, there are people who actually pray to Che Guevara. Now, I know for some of you this may be old news, but this is mind blowing for me. They actually pray to Che for a miracle. Che was a self-proclaimed atheist and he has become a deity for these peasants! I am not one to judge any person’s religious experience, but contradiction is contradiction, and I have to ask what history do these peasants know? It’s not like these peasants are learning about foco theory or arming themselves against the bourgeois. They’re praying to him for help in their day-to-day farm life: a murderer has become the patron saint of farming. Here we find a religious icon without historic grounding. Saint Che is hagiography at it’s worst. Anytime we read about a local’s encounter with Che, it’s never the philosophy that attracted them, but his appearance that wins favor. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if Che had the looks of Ghandi, Che would’ve been long forgotten.

The substance of Che is that of a human butcher who did not believe in God, who fought against capitalism, and who found hatred as the key element for his revolution. Today his image makes money on T-Shirts and in movies, his contradictory quote on love is found on bumper stickers, and somewhere in the little town of Vallegrande peasants pray to the atheist for rain and good harvest.

When will the irony end?

For more information about San Ernesto de La Higuera you can check here: | San Ernesto de la higuera y el hombre nuevo

If you google San Ernesto de la Higuera then you’ll get plenty more links. (A strong stomach may be required.)

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