The Marvel/Disney movie “Black Panther” is the latest example of an idea with anti-capitalist origins being co-opted for corporate commodification and profit, explains Lawrence Davidson in this analysis.
By Lawrence Davidson
Unless regulated, capitalism operates as a wide-open market system. If a demand exists or can be created and a profit made, that demand will be met. As a consequence, capitalism has the capacity to commercialize almost anything, including its detractors and even its enemies.
Here are some examples:
— Che Guevara, the iconic Marxist revolutionary. He was young and handsome when he served at the side of Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. Today, most people outside of Cuba know of him only as an image on T-shirts, backpacks and posters. He has been immortalized at a profit by the economic system he despised.
— Wall-E, a 2008 animated movie about an “adorable robot” left behind on earth after mankind abandons the planet. It seems that humans have reduced their home to a garbage heap and Wall-E (short for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class”) has the job of cleaning the place up. Ironically, the movie suggests to us the dangers of commercialism while still managing to gross $533.3 million worldwide. Half of that came from audiences in the U.S., the homeland of “shop till you drop.”
— Apple’s “Think Different” sales campaign. This promotion of Apple products opens with the line, “Here is to the crazy ones.” This is followed by images of Einstein, Bob Dylan and Martin Luther King, among others – folks who, the commercial tells us, are “rebels and misfits and have no respect for the status quo.” Apple was promoting its groundbreaking computer products using the images of some people who really didn’t believe in a capitalist system. Nonetheless, this promotion campaign became iconic and probably can be said to have helped the company “change the world” – just not in the direction some of those “crazy ones” would have liked.
— Graffiti Art. There is a 2016 documentary…