Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Paul Theroux wrote, in The Old Patagonian Express, "In a way, Guevara's fate was worse than Bolivar's. Guevara's collapse was complete; his intentions were forgotten, but his style was taken up by boutique owners. There is no faster way of destroying a man, or mocking his ideas, than making him fashionable. That Guevara succeeded in influencing dress-designers was part of his tragedy."
I think he's got a point: Che would undoubtedly react poorly to seeing his face on a handbag. Not to mention his response to the current political state of the western hemisphere.
This image, then--if Theroux is correct--kills two birds with one stone. Both Jesus and Che are reduced to images--brands--for our visual consumption. In one quick artistic edit, two revolutionaries are flattened and pacified.
But I'm not sure I'm willing to give the curmudgeon his way. Much as I'm enjoying Theroux's book, and inclined as I am to agree with him, I find this particular image powerful and evocative. Perhaps it's the combination of two characters so often juxtaposed--a sort of visual paradox. Maybe it's because I'm so subconsciously branded that I see Che and think, "Cool!" Or perhaps, it's a sort of visceral reminder that Jesus was about changing the way we see things and the way we live--in ways even more "out there" than Che.

(Image from the "Meek. Mild. As If. Campaign")

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