Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Che's Image

If you're a person who gets livid when confronted with pictures of Che Guevara, please, by all means, leave immediately. Possibly you'd prefer to read about a different murderer.

Mixed Meters has little interest in armed revolution, but I am very interested in THAT photo of Che Guevara, the one originally taken by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda and now used for just about any purpose imaginable, many of them completely, cravenly capitalistic.

Two previous Mixed Meters' posts have shown variations on the image.  First there was Che's Brand, a review of a book about the picture.  You can see Cherry Guevara candy and Che bubble bath.  Then there was A Combination of Jingle Bells and the Internationale which is the name of a piece I wrote which combines those two themes.  There you can check out the Che credit card and the Che Guevara Rolex ad.

I've been saving more Che images as I come across them.  A few good recent finds have prompted this post.

You can see two famous faces combined with the Che image, one is a composer and the other a muppet.  (I'm pretty sure Frank would not have been pleased but I don't really know what Oscar would say.  Probably that he's just trying to protect Big Bird from Mitt Romney.)



Korda's image seems to inspire artists.  Here are a couple of statuettes and a colorful vintage poster.  Then there's one done with nothing but dice.  It is so low-resolution that the star on the beret doesn't show.  (That would be a good one to click in order to view an enlargement.)





Che Guevara grew up in a middle-class background.  He gave up his privilege to fight for the poor, eventually accomplishing nothing and getting himself killed.  Still, curiously, he seems to speak to a a small slice of middle-class America.  Why else would they display this image?

Here's a cartoon which shows an Occupy protester, probably middle class, wearing the Korda image on a T-shirt as he is being confronted by real poverty right on Wall Street.  Chances are good that the protester is not going to give up his gadget, or much of anything, certainly not his life, to help this panhandler.


I took the last three pictures at random spots around Pasadena.  One shows Che on the back of a prosperous looking Nissan mini-van.  The others are of a small announcement pasted illegally in public spaces promoting a political meeting.  That was back in February 2011.





Remember, it's just an image, a graphic.  But it's one which can still push people's buttons.  The image has a meaning of its own, which, for most people, has long since been divorced from the actual story of the person shown or what he did or why.

Of course in this political silly season, many images (and countless words) are used repeatedly with no relationship to the original meanings.  The origins have been forgotten.  Only the emotions remain.  To bring them out all you have to do is push the button.



I found the two Occupy related images on Facebook.  The cartoon is by Glenn McCoy.  Most of the others came to my attention through the blog This Isn't Happiness although they originally came from here, here, here or here.  I got the Zappa/Che image from here (starting at 2'26").  You might be able to buy a Zappa/Che t-shirt here.  Find out about the organization behind the red and green stickers here.




Button Pushing Tags: . . . . . .

1 comment:

Archivist/Cultural Liaison said...

I couldn't stand it. i had to restore Che image
http://anaphoria.com/Cherestored.jpg