Clint Eastwood and Authority to Speak

I like Clint or at least I like some of his films, pretty much across his career. However, his inability (and it is inability) to see what’s inherently wrong and has always been wrong, causes one to ponder what sort of position this speaks of?

So, in the first instance we should consider whether the thoughts and opinions of someone who is successful in a particular part of industry, Entertainment in this case, should be given prominence. Sure he may well be influential to those who ‘identify’ with his ‘hard ass’ image. However it is/was the cultivation of an onscreen persona and habitus that has drifted into the ‘real world’ to become reified and verified as ‘concrete’.

In this instance are his thoughts and opinions more valid and noteworthy than anyone else? Are they meaningful and what do they tell us that we did not already know or, at least, suspect? Sure a magazine wanted to interview him because they want to ‘sell some issues’ but at what price your soul when it can be bargained so cheaply?

Who grants authority to speak? The papers, magazines, TV stations, journalists? On one level they all do.  They create a means, ‘the story’, by which a form of ‘truth’ is supplied but always presented with little challenge or counter balance. That is not the purpose of these reports ‘we just report the facts’. It’s a shame really that there’s little in the way of interplay and challenge. Eastwood is essentially allowed print and airtime to put forward a rather crooked set of values under the guise of integrity.

Perhaps the most worrying part of all of this is that his claim that there was a time when none of the spiel put forward by Trump was considered as racist. It is here where one questions, yes there were different rules in place but these were at the point of lynchings, shootings, having to use different restrooms, bars, eateries, buses and so on. Because it happened does it somehow excuse what goes on now when clearly Trump is playing the race card in a play of divide and conquer? The US Military used black soldiers, racial inferiority, for experimental programmes. This was also believed, at the time, to be OK and a ‘rationally’ based decision. In fact there are a catalogue of unethical medical experiments conducted on black slaves and their descendants. Some of the issues are around race and some around poverty. However all of them were deemed to be sound for their time.

There was a time when women didn’t have the vote, or go a bit further back most men were not allowed to vote or own property or you could purchase opiates and cocaine quite legally. Whilst all of these have been past practices and are now acknowledged as being wrong can or should they be excused just because they happened? Eastwood in many ways deploys ambiguity by playing games with historical perception (dehistoricisation) and universalism (there was a time when this was OK). Following Eastwood’s logic you could employ a form of legitimacy for every aberrant societal convention that hid the true facts of what was going on. Namely the total domination and subjugation of a race(s), class, gender or other, for the benefit of the ruling class which is everyone in the society who believes their practices to be ‘natural’ and ordained by God as a means to obscure their arbitrariness.

The real problem isn’t that Eastwood spoke his mind. He can think whatever he wishes to. No, the real issue is that he’s been given coverage and access, and that his utterances remain wholly unchallenged on a face to face, point by point basis. Essentially they’ve let some old rich bloke have his way and it’s been allowed to happen in the name of the ‘special interest’ as a cover for family values. It’s not. It might as well be a couple of blokes in an EDL pub in Bermondsey. The lack of challenge is the problem. Where violence is committed against a society, a race, a gender, a person and so on and that violence remains unchallenged, then it is considered Symbolic. What Eastwood has done is not going to lead to outbreaks of civil unrest. The Symbolism of the event however is not defused. This is what journalists should be doing. Rendering a service to the world by negating and nullifying acts of Symbolic Violence that are perpetrated on a daily basis. But the lifestyle mag coupled with resyndication has allowed the violence to propagate.

When the words on side of the Brexit bus were found to be false, has anyone been held to account? Nope, make BoJo Foreign Secretary, he’ll keep all those Johnny foreigners in their place; Norman Tebbit and ‘get on your bike’ definitely symbolic violence perpetrated against a class of labour and the destruction of community. Blame Liverpool fans at Hillsborough? All are examples of Symbolic Violence, because they remained largely unchallenged and held to be ‘truthful’, conducted by the state or a political class (if there’s such a thing). Any dissent was curtailed quickly. Murdoch is responsible for so much of this, but then you knew that didn’t you?

The violence continues publicly in a number of forms especially where celebrity is allowed to pronounce without being challenged on fact, where power is allowed to soften its image so as to beguile, wherever money is allowed to win because its money and everyone seems to be so horny for it that they no longer think rationally when it’s around. See it for what it is. Call it what it is. The simple solution to Symbolic Violence is to challenge it at the moment it happens. Diminish its power and expose it for what it truly is.

Overall, I doubt anyone in the press or media will change partly because of job insecurity but also because no one likes a smart arse! Everyone seems to prefer inhabiting the surface rather than diving deep.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Orwell

He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it


A Shout Out To Louis Barabbas

@Louis Barabbas

first of all I want to say thank you for playing my track on your radio show. It was an unexpected bonus, if that’s the right way to express it. I’m glad that you liked the interplay. Can this be said??, I am a fan of critical theory and find the applicability of ideas and concepts in the everyday to be enriching. I find that these ideas and approaches inform quite a lot of the material I choose to write.

I thought I’d give you a bit more background. A while ago I decided to do a drum and bass album entitled Critical Theory (seven tracks in total and not like the record label) which would be accompanied by mini-essays elaborating on the ideas that formed the impetus for the pieces. Ideas were drawn from people such as Marx, Althusser, Gramsci, and a fair slice of Bourdieu, as a means of allowing a discussion of sociological/philosophical ideas/works facilitated by music. The idea was that the music would always point to the larger written work and ideally disseminate these idea/theories in and amongst a listening public. I’ve completed the tunes and have the short-essays/abstracts to complete. I want the music and essays to enable ideas around music, its production and consumption to be debated by placing accompanying or competing arguments together rather than merely providing a one sided, totalising view but also its position in a changing world and its role as agent of social change.

Many of my ideas for pieces are triggered by everyday phrases or writing that seem to have a poeticism or meaning beyond the initial application and I feel the need to represent it in someway. I find the writing of Bourdieu or Foucault and many others to have these qualities. For example this passage from Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge:

‘It is influenced by the climate of ideas in any given era, and it therefore betrays – often unwittingly – the prejudices of its time and place’

To my mind this entirely applicable to Albini and anyone else who seeks to assert some sort of authority and control over taste making, expressive vehicles? I think the most difficult part of the Albini piece is the notion that there’s some sort of criterion or standard for the creative act/impulse and that the impulse or act for dance music is somehow inferior and therefore not ‘creative’ and comes up short. This blanket assumption should have been challenged by Hobbs but it seemed outside of her remit or that of her producer to do so.

Even though I don’t agree with Albini, his flow is quite interesting. His use of the pause, his quite musical lilting speech patterns located in and around Bb minor (Dorian mode due to the G natural rather than Aeolian). It’s a very measured diatribe and if there’s anything to be learned here it is that music and its valuing systems have been contested for far longer than many expect and that standards, whilst most will appear to be fixed, are flexible and constructed. The real questions though are, how and what does it make you feel? If, as Albini attests that he doesn’t like it nor listen to it, then why waste energy commenting on it? The quest for superiority/significance can manifest in many guises and the illusion or affectation of disinterest in his diatribe I feel is the real message to be examined. Put simply, it is an illusion!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your time spent talking about the work and the ideas it brings up and for playing it on your show. I certainly find myself spinning off in other directions to counter the Albini Position and I’m glad it’s been received positively.

I’ll finish with a Mark Twain quote:

‘Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world–and never will.’