Tag Archives: capitalism

Cannibal capitalism: Chief Keef and rehab

I’m interested in the idea that folks would become famous because they harmed themselves or allowed someone else to harm them on camera.  I’ve been calling it cannibal capitalism – as a means of describing this wide scope on popular media.    Cannibal in the sense that viewers consume of the body of another human being who is on camera taking years off of their life

Chief Keef is in rehab for ganja and let’s loose with some great insights about how unpleasant it is.

Nestled inside a nondescript beach house, one of hip-hop’s most controversial rising stars is holed up in court-ordered rehab, and he’s feeling frustrated and alone.

“It’s like being locked up,” Chief Keef, 18, tells Billboard, in his first interview since he entered rehab. “And when I’m locked up, I don’t want anybody to come see me. I won’t let my family come here. I haven’t seen my 2-year-old daughter.”

via Chief Keef Talks Rehab, ‘Bang 3’ Album & Learning How to Surf | Billboard.

Cannibal Capitalism is best thought of as a pattern of mediated communication about morality.  Along with viewing people getting hurt and enjoying it (Jackass, NFL, Ultimate Fighting) we also get the moral commentary from the narrators and participants about that suffering.

Part of the narration of morality that comes with hip hop and cannibal capitalism is a kind of racism+classism+paternalism.  When the articles were popping about Odd Future, the dominant story was just how naughty they were and emphasizing the difficulties they got into.  Very little conversation about music, and heavy emphasis on the disciplining of (usually) young black men.

The quote from the Billboard article is the opening passage.  Do you think it invites a kind of moral judgement?  Do you wonder what this rapper did to get this punishment?  Is it framed in a way to encourage you to read it as an omniscient person who hasn’t had this kind of difficulty, shaking your head in faux-sympathy?

There is no doubt that Chief Keef is at the core of a major moral panic.  One part of the division is the fascinating language used to divide people up.  Richard Sherman and the significance of the representation of thug:

I wonder if the exciting pleasure of the music and imagery of Chief Keef experiencing suffering, particularly mapping up to the discipline and punish strategy of suffering/redemption (recycled) is part of the appeal?

Public consumption of rap stars and their back stories usually includes a kind of nefarious sharing of information.  I went over to my buddies house and we listened to music and also to a 5 minute rant from KRS-ONE threatening some dude over a van robbery.

Hip hop fans are usually fiends for gossip, and interested in the music, culture, language and well, anything of our favorite musicians.

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Filed under capitalism, communication, hip hop, media, prisons, punishment, race, representation

Cannibal capitalism: diving and the NFL

I’ve been struggling with the idea I call cannibal capitalism — the idea that one would trade of your body, health and well-being in order to get money.  It makes the most sense to help understand some current rappers — Gucci Mane in particular.

But this morning I got two recomendations from Longreads — one on the NFL and the other on deep-sea industrial diving.  Both seem to suggest that there is a popular understanding that in some occupations — the danger and assumption of self-harm is part of the job.  That one trades of their body in order to continue to survive, and occasionally thrive.  I guess one element of surviving in cannibal capitalism is that one often has a limited selection of options and choices.  In my opinion this is driven by the previous discourse one is saturated in — learn, as the NFL players do — that one is expected to endure suffering for pay and success and one is more likely to see this behavior as normal and participate.

The perspective of pain is what this story is about. For fans, injuries are like commercials, the price of watching the game as well as harrowing advertisements for the humanity of the armored giants who play it. For gamblers and fantasy-football enthusiasts, they are data, a reason to vet the arcane shorthand (knee, doubtful) of the injury report the NFL issues every week; for sportswriters they are kernels of reliable narrative. For players, though, injuries are a day-to-day reality, indeed both the central reality of their lives and an alternate reality that turns life into a theater of pain. Experienced in public and endured almost entirely in private, injuries are what players think about and try to put out of their minds; what they talk about to one another and what they make a point to suffer without complaint; what they’re proud of and what they’re ashamed by; what they are never able to count and always able to remember.

via Worst NFL Injuries – Tom Junod on Injury Issue in the NFL – Esquire.

The deeper you dive, the more you get paid. In his second or third year an apprentice may be promoted, or “broken out,” to a full-time diver. His salary will increase to between $60,000 and $75,000. He will start as an “air diver,” diving as deep as 120 feet while breathing regular air. Jobs at this depth might include retrieving tools from the worksite, or cutting and retrieving the polypropylene cord that runs between the surface vessel and the underwater worksite. Next the diver will be assigned to more complex jobs below a hundred feet, for which he must breathe mixed gas in order to avoid suffering the effects of nitrogen narcosis while working with heavy machinery. A full-time mixed-gas diver can earn more than $100,000 a year. He will perform jobs at ever greater depths, with higher degrees of technical difficulty, until his diving supervisor deems him ready to graduate to saturation diving. Sat divers can make $200,000 a year. Sat’s where it’s at.

via Diving Deep into Danger by Nathaniel Rich | The New York Review of Books.

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Filed under communication, health, learning

capitalism: car shortage

The end of the American empire is going to be rough.   There is no doubt that many working class folks will suffer as our economy continues to crash.  Interesting dimension — the L.A. Times notes that we are in a car crunch — not enough automobiles for the American market — thus the prices are high.

Doug Stevens

The cause identified for this shortage is the earthquake which killed more than 14,000 people (official police estimate), left uncontrolled mox reactors dumping nuclear fuel into the ocean air and water, and wrecked people’s homes and businesses.   Given the chance, we’d rather read disaster in terms of the impact on our consumer market.  News stories about radiation abatement and the deadly nuclear reactor don’t get coverage, but we get the explicit run down of how much the earthquake and tsunami hurt the run of 2011 Hondas.

“Although automakers will work hard to catch up during the second half of this year, ultimately about 700,000 vehicles will never be built because of the quake.

The shortfall has allowed Toyota and competitors such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to raise sticker prices.”

via Car shoppers advised to postpone purchases: Best option for car shoppers: postpone buying – latimes.com.

This is capitalist semiotics at it’s most refined — there is no doubt that natural disasters have an impact on business —  but it is the prioritizing of the disruption of automobile production as it impacts United States consumers that seems so grimy to me.

For those who make a living selling cars, this story is particularly important.  So as the article progresses, they note that one result has been an enormous surge in the trade-in value of cars:

In 2007, a 3-year-old Ford Explorer would bring about $7,100 as a trade-in for a new car. Now, a 3-year-old Explorer gets double that amount — $14,200 — according to auto price information company Kelley Blue Book. The trade-in value for a 3-year-old Honda Civic has jumped by $3,500 to $12,200 in the same period.

via Car shoppers advised to postpone purchases: Best option for car shoppers: postpone buying – latimes.com.

Another way of reading this change is to note the declining value of the dollar.  American money is less valuable — and this makes all the valuable goods cheap for other countries to buy.   If you are over thirty, then you probably remember the phenomenon of travelling to other countries for a “deal” — well, now the United States looks like a deal.

I’m not all that concerned about the actual corporations who make money off of these transactions — but the folks who need transportation and can’t afford a safe used car are going to struggle.   The United States is a nation which holds fierce the right to individual automobile transit, and has stubbornly refused to invest in public transportation.

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Filed under capitalism, disaster, media