Can the Left Learn to Meme?
Lessons for the cultural left, from cat memes to gaming, to Stranger Things, and more.
Taking in an array of cultural references from the contemporary art world, to cat memes, Stranger Things, the Kardashian-Jenners, Mad Men, Run the Jewels, and video gaming, Can the Left Learn to Meme? argues that there is positivity in millennial-era cultural production.
Utilising Adorno’s unswerving yet understated hope in spite of the odds, Mike Watson embraces the abstraction of the new media landscape as millennials refuse to surrender to cynicism, by out-weirding even the world at large. They pose a radical alternative to the right wing approach of Steve Bannon and the conservative psychology of Jordan Peterson.
Here, the cultural elitism of the art world is contrasted with the anything-goes approach of millennial culture. The left avant-garde dream of an art-for-all is with us, though you won't find it in museums. It is time the left learned to meme, challenging conventions along the way.
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Mad Men as a means to understand the political impasses of today. League of Legends as a route to collective consciousness. Cat memes as a new form of freedom. This is a book full of compelling, insightful and playful analyses of popular culture seen through the sharp eyes of Adorno. A much needed intervention revealing the vital perspectives an often misunderstood thinker can offer to new media, concepts of the Internet, meme, video games and more. Watson critiques the art world, corporate capitalism, rising right-wing discourse and structural neoliberalism in this important contribution to the progressive Left agenda. At the same time, he makes Adorno fun again! ~ Alfie Bown
From Steve Bannon and Jordan Peterson to YouTube and Stranger Things, Watson's book is relentlessly contemporary. He keeps alive Adorno's tradition of critical commentary in popular culture, but with a gentler and more affable tone. ~ Graham Harman