Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fight Back! and 'The Art of Protest' Seminar at UeL

So, I just finished editing this then.

7 kettled editors, 43 writers (from a 15-year-old UK Uncut activist to Johann Hari to a rebel Lib Dem peer), 350 pages, £0.00 to download as a PDF - all telling the real story of the winter protests, and providing a theoretical and practical handbook for the next phase of the fight against Tory cuts.

We launched - softly - on Tuesday evening and have reached 1000 downloads already, never mind online reads, which are also available at the link above. A physical book and Kindle app will launch on 24 March 2011.

Here is the first of what will hopefully be several Fight Back! events, featuring four of its authors, the Associate Dean of the UeL Humanities School, and Dr Kode9 in his academic guise. All are welcome, please come along if you can!

The Art of Protest
A seminar to mark the launch of Fight Back!
2 March 2011, 14:00-17:00, University of East London


Dan Hancox: "Pow! in Parliament Square: Riot music and the kettled generation"

Jesse Darling: "[Protest] Signs and the Signified: handmade propaganda in the age of the branded demographic"

Adam Harper: "The Art and Reality of Protest"

Respondents: Steve 'Kode9' Goodman, Andrew Blake

Chair: Jeremy Gilbert

Full details, directions, and biogs on the UeL website here. Facebook event page here if you like that kind of thing.

Riot Grime and the Kettled Generation

Two features here following up - to a greater or lesser extent - on the extraordinary rave/riot in Parliament Square on 9 December. I will be speaking on these issues at UeL's Centre for Cultural Studies Research on 2 March 2011, separate blog post coming on that.

1) Pow! anthem for kettled youth, a Guardian Film&Music cover story on the extraordinary, exceptional history of Pow! (Forward) by Lethal Bizzle, and an interview with Lethal himself about why grime is the perfect riotous music. Bizzle used the opportunity to praise the use of grime in the protests as "beautiful" and spoke directly to David "still a donut" Cameron:
"We've got more power than you have on the youth. You're a millionaire guy in a suit, your life is good – you can't relate. These kids can relate to people like myself, Wiley, Dizzee, Tinie Tempah, Tinchy: we're from the council estates, we lived in these places where they live, we know what it's like. We're the real prime ministers of this country."

2) Government Grime and the EMA Kids for Mute Magazine, a 2000 word wide-ranging piece on media characterisations of multi-cultural British youth, misunderstandings of urban music, and bizarre government attempts to 'reach out' to disenfranchised young people.
The real problem is that serious attempts to engage with this demographic are extremely rare, and more often, they are dismissed with Britain's unique, unapologetic 21st century minstrelsy, which takes the form of media characterisations that revel in a vernacular they neither understand, nor wish to understand. There are few more revolting experiences in modern Britain than turning on Radio 4 to hear a middle-aged, middle-class, white comedy actor playing a generic urban yoof: ‘bruv', ‘blud', ‘innit', ‘yagetme', ‘brrap' and most of all, the fictitious patois construction ‘I is well... [happy/sad/angry]'. Sasha Baron Cohen has a hell of a lot to answer for.

The popular myth constructed around this generation takes the form of an unholy trinity: first, impressionable, pitiable urban youth; second, aggressive urban music, which might be called grime, rap, dubstep, garage... at the level the myth is constructed, the terminology doesn't matter one jot; third, violence, bloodshed and moral degeneracy. In this characterisation, the three are inextricably linked, and propel each another forwards into a dystopian horizon.

Royal Trux - too many notes, rubbish for rollerskating to

Royal Trux review-essay for The National here. It's a response to the re-issue of their first four albums, a brief discussion of rockism and the avant-garde, and to their obsession with Ornette Coleman's free jazz theory of 'harmolodics'.
Their impact was such that they were seduced into a lucrative three-album deal with Virgin Records, a partnership which led to predictable unhappiness on both sides. The band were angry at being asked to compromise their sound and make more commercially viable rock music, while the label allegedly told them their work was "confusing", contained "too many notes", and best of all, according to Hagerty, that "children need something to rollerskate to". It's probably fair to say that rollerskating to Royal Trux at their most experimental could easily have left people hospitalised.