Funny that this should come up, as I was thinking about the subject
on the way to class today... what follows is not so much a discussion
on the commodification of revolution, but on the appearance of
"commodification" as a phenomenon.

I was looking at the supposed 'commodification' of rap, specifically,
the commodification of Public Enemy's brand of obviously political and
revolutionary "gangster" rap (and lyrics) to what has today become
Snoop Doggy Dogg's watered-down macho tough-guy gangsta rap (retaining
the edge, but not the substance), or worse, Marky Mark, etal's
middle-class suburban rendition of rap. (Apologies to those unfamiliar
with the genre, but I think you can still follow.)

One thing that it makes apparent to me is a middle-class
preoccupation with the genuine (I know I have it). That is, we place
value on that which is NOT commodified, and 'commodification' is but a
label we put on those things which we hold sacred (e.g., grass roots
revolutionary values) that have become in some form tainted by "capitalism".

commodified == fake == not of true substance

How does this relate back to rap? Well, I happen to know several middle-
class people (I, for one) who prefer to partake of the "real" stuff:
real rap, real causes, real "ethnic" cuisine, and whathaveyou, in a way
that is almost hypocritical... voyeuristic, I suppose is the proper
adjective, since we tend to participate in/partake of these activities
such that we think they are real (i.e., not commodified), but are
nevertheless distanced from them. Commodification, being a label attached
to what is not a 'genuine' experience, becomes a tool for asserting
one's realm of experience, or value system.

Relating it back to Foucault, I suppose that the use of "commodification" as
a value system is a form of subjectivization. (Still not sure what that
term means, so someone please correct me...)


Pat Angeles

Partial thread listing: