Tuesday, May 22, 2012

White Negroes

One of the best readers of our political and media culture is Adam Curtis of the BBC. He recently posted a brilliant essay celebrating a 1969 documentary by Dick Fontaine called Mailer for Mayor -- on the great writer's insane run for the office (with Jimmy Breslin as his running mate!): both men calling for the secession of the City from the rest of New York, creating our 51st state. (Let's please lose Staten Island, while we're at it.)

Curtis's piece details Mailer's embrace of hipsterism, and his warnings about its possible underside: the dangers of co-optation in service to corporate capitalism. Done. Long ago, done. Barack Obama being the ultimate White Negro, but for his no doubt being, as are all bullies, a physical coward.

(Thomas Frank's book The Conquest of Cool has the same subject, as does Frank's wonderful journal, once extinct -- now revived, The Baffler.)

Embedded in Curtis's post is the documentary itself. Awesome.