Genki Sudo: World Order: Machine Civilization, and what it can teach us about globalization and racial politics
I try not to make it a habit of reposting cool shit I find around the internet, mostly because I am invariably late to the party and don't-you-know-I-already-posted-that-on-twitter-last-week. But I have some stuff to say about this video, so please indulge me.
The first thing that came across to me is the beautiful camera shots, over and over and over. The color is amazing, and there's a cohesive industrial style that comes across. In fact, that industrial/business style is what really drew me to the video in the first place. There's a not-so-subtle commentary here about the businessman in suit as a robot in society, subverting individualism in favor of becoming part of the larger machine, complete with Starbucks coffee and business suit.
But I think what most appeals to me about this video is the raw, unbridled optimism of the message of globalization and interconnectedness. Now, I hate the international policies of multinationals like Wal-Mart as much as the next card-carrying liberal, but the message of connectedness from this video is different. This message is not sponsored by Coca-Cola, but comes directly from the artist reaching out. Sure, the song is in Japanese (mostly) but the message is clear, that we aren't really that different at our roots.
And I miss that kind of earnesness, an earnestness which feels very rooted in the 90s to me. There's been a cultural shift in the last 10 years away from an effort to understand, and a regression to a cultural concept of people being "just different." It's easy to get cynical about this in terms of global policy, and say that this is largely due to the US's place as sole superpower being threatened by the bombastic growth of China, but I think this is larger than that.
I see this kind of division happening more frequently in discussions of domestic race politics as well. "Politically correct" has become such a charged term that conservatives are comfortable dismissing it out of hand, and have begun expanding "politically correct" to refer to any discussion of race at all that acknowledges any kind of an economic or class disparity. More and more frequently, the conservative mantra seems to be "We fixed this stuff in the 60's, and if there's still problems, then its clearly due to the minority not working hard enough." This idea, of course, is absurd.
I'm not advocating a complete reversal of global or racial policy of the last 10 years. We have made strides, most obviously the election of a black president, and the ability to bring discussions of race into casual conversation. But we should be very careful about painting a picture of a static other, one that we can box back into the same familiar stereotypes we learned to reject 20 years ago. The 90s had some important lessons to teach us in race relations, and we should not dispense with them entirely.