Several years ago-almost a decade I had the honor of meeting the son of Che Guevara. At that point in time i was in Cuba cutting sugarcane i believe or picking guavas, with the Che Guevara work brigade.
He decided to come and speak to us about his father and the work he was doing to get his writing out.Ricardo Alecorn the President of Cuba was also there and when Che Guevara’s son started talking about the work of his father, a light shone in his eyes. Dressed in a gueyumbera and pants, he looked really non imposing and the way he sat and talked to us, one would get the impression that he was just chatting to his friends. We got to ask him questions and I handed him a magazine that my organization put together about our struggles here mobilizing street youth on a political basis. Despite the fact of who he was and the work he was doing he took it and congratulated us on taking a stand.
Given the fact that at that point in time I was totally in love with someone who could not make it to Cuba, I asked him for his autograph. He refused, stating that he was not his father, me being hard to give up so easily stated that his work that he did was just as revolutionary and praiseworthy as his father and as such should give me his autograph stated that revolutionaries are not movie stars and spoke about the simplicity of his father.
The humility of this guy and other Cubans that I have met has always struck me. During the same trip i went in a taxi to the home of Rogerio Santana, who was the Cuban consulate at some point in time and now worked for the ministry of foreign affairs. Like many other Cubans his house was humble and when I visited him he broke out some rum, knowing I like to drink and we chatted for quite a bit of the night. This humility and commandery that I have experienced from Cuban revolutionaries that I have met over the corse of my life, some who have slept at my house with no complaints flys in sharp contrast to the spectacle being promoted by “celebrity revolutionaries” such as Russel Brand and others who have never done nothing to promote the cause of revolution other than to give a few platitudes here and their and expect fanfare and devotion as if we owe them something for there great words.
Case in point, the hunger games, a movie that is basically about revolution from above, or in other words, the celebrity’s speak and refuse to be part of the system and the walls come tumbling down. At a time when people around the world are disenchanted with the present state of things, hollywood comes and gives us a solution, do nothing stay at home, follow the lead of your celebrities and when they resist and speak out, magically all will be exposed and the people will rise. This scenario takes the problem of our reality out of our hands and puts it in the hands of celebritys who are to be worshipped and adored.When people across the world are resisting tyranny hollywood comes to tell us that revolution like other affairs is the job of hero’s who will show us the way forward and us common people are just to sit back worship and follow the lead of these people who are using their status on the telly or in the games to truly resist.
Our job, according to hollywood, the expert on all things revolutionary is to be spectators in this over romanticized script lead by those who know better, the actors. Just like modern politics, where we have politicians who are actors and our role is to vote and cheer or boo, hungergames enforces this dichotomy of participants, the actors,and spectators, the masses. And just like modern politics, we are not to discuss or take on the problems that face us but rather wait till we are called forward and then act in this new arrangement while these celebrities lead.
As unemployment and disgust with the political process grows and grows we are given another distraction by the likes of Russel and co. to have our aspirations of freedom and justice given to us vicariously through the movies or rants from these great actors, creating another safety valve for us to release our frustration. Forget about organizing your community, buy some popcorn and pepsi, sit back and watch the show.
While real revolutionaries, like the Cubans stress the role of simplicity, humility and self-sacrifice,hollywood enforces the notion of revolution with popcorn and a cool soundtrack.Personally I think its time we stooped letting ourselves get distracted by this new wave of celebrity revolutionaries and get down to doing what must be done, solving the problems in our community which may not be as glorious as the shit we see on the telly, but is far more important.