Nicki Minaj and Rose McGowan. Right-Wing Conspiracy, The Cult of Liberty and the guise of Corporate Personhood, and the subversion of truth relating to COVID-19 vaccines in late-stage capitalism. By Quinton Mitchell

Minaj is like a toy created by a corporation who pushed a conspiracy that feeds back to the power of corporations and unhindered markets, largely since the pandemic stalled economic growth and the expansion of markets. I don’t hate Nicki Minaj, “per se”, though in one hand Nicki does have skeletons in the closet. In one hand she’s a strong, empowered, woman of color, who turned her beauty and unique worldview into a monetary asset and became a female power-player on the entertainment stage, where entertainment and positions of power are traditionally the antithesis of what Nicki represents.

But, let’s be real… Nicki is hot, she’s fine, she exudes a sexuality of a natural woman of color femininity, a sort of beauty that taps into our primal ancestry where woman with curves with prized or worships, i.e., The Venus of Willendorf.

Yet, nods to intersectionality, Critical Theory, or the de-colonial framework of the Left, aside, where identity politics protects Nicki, the whole Minaj situation to me screams postmodernism. As a non-independent celebrity she’s a literal product of a corporation, who uses Clueless As If! pastiche and parody, is of absurd cartoonish proportions, recycling capitalist pop culture while pushing morality to the extreme since we’ve reached the end of Enlightenment thought and “art is now just an extension of commodity fetishism”, absorbing biased conspiracy theory in our post-truth “Do What Thy Whilst” world, but spewing conspiracy into the ether of the internet. She’s an object she’s just a representative of power and corporations and likely just did this for clout but…also has skeletons in her closet.

Scholars claimed the postmodernism was dead. But postmodernism being antithetical to ideology was never really “an ideology” to begin with, even though scholars applied a postmodern framework to their analysis of culture, but ultimately postmodernism is an enduring condition of people living in late-stage capitalism, which we still live in, thus “postmodernism never died”. Just because intellectuals stopped “looking” or “talking about” postmodernism, doesn’t mean the landscape in which the condition arises went away, and if anything, the landscape become ever more so, especially with advancements in technology and communication since the 1960s thru 1980s were postmodernism an a “study” was its zenith. We can easily see in 2021, that the world is one of post-truths and conspiracy for the sake of conspiracy feeds back to systems of control as they hypnotize us in the ether of the internet and push pop culture which is capitalist culture (an opiate, a Huxleyan soma, etc.). It layers the animus of capitalist power by creating a pleasurable self-recycling culture, littered with out-of-date anachronisms, memetics, false identities, elaborate corporate conspiracies, a bombardment of commercials with pop jingles, reactionary politics, a schizophrenic proletariat, and the digitization and commodification of human nature at the end of reason, culture, and logic.

In many ways, Nicki’s conspiracy tweet proves she’s just another victim, like all of us, to the postmodern reality, yet, since she’s protected by identity politics, which itself descends from a neoliberal tradition, her identity as an object is simply covered to shroud corporate power, i.e., it’s a deflection tool with spares her from criticism, and thus spares her corporate backers from criticism.

Lyotard, Baudrillard, DeLillo, William Gibson (author of Neuromancer), Marcuse, Frederic Jameson, etc., all predicted the state of current affairs.

I. Intro

So… Nicki Minaj posted a conspiracy tweet about vaccination infertility… Likely for selfish reasons and attention seeking, but…Rose McGowan came to her support, despite Rose McGowan being a victim of assault by Harvey Weinstein, yet Nicki Minaj defended her brother who was convicted of raping an 11-year-old. Also, Nicki’s husband – Kenneth Petty – is now a registered sex offender having been arrested for failure to identify himself as a sex offender for a 1995 attempted rape after moving from New York to California, and the victim alleged the Minaj tried to bribe her with $500,000 to state she wasn’t attacked (source: Burke, NBC News, 2021), and the friend of Minaj who alleged he is infertile because of the COVID-19 shot likely has an STD (which is unfortunate if the case and I hope he gets the healthcare he needs). Hm… Very interesting case here we must dive into.

Nicki Minaj recently stated that COVID-19 resulted in the testicular shrinkage and infertility of one of her friends. This claim was largely debunked by scientists such as those at the University of Miami Health System (source: CBS Miami, 2021) and even the Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, stated in a public broadcast that her claim was false, and that time was wasted verifying her claims (which is quite impressive the government researched her claim, and made a public denouncement of it).

II. The Right Wing’s Strategy of Subversion. Smug ironic hypocrisies, the promulgation of conspiracy to protect corporate personhood.

Of course, the political Right Wing such as Carlson Tucker picked up Nicki Minaj’s claim largely for their own agenda of muckraking and being obstructionist to Congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration. What’s even more ironic about the Right Wing in this matter or many matters to be exact is that it shows how hungry they are to search for allies in their “culture war” to fit their ideological goals of obstructing Democrats or Progressives (where many progressives have issue with traditional Democrats) such as when they attacked similar people to Minaj such as Ben Shapiro decrying Cardi B’s song “W.A.P”. Or, how the Right Wing were quick to pick up on Gina Carano after she was fired from Disney’s The Mandalorian painting her as a symbol standing up against “liberal corporate America” or “woke culture”, despite the fact the Right Wing, particularly with what we could call the Alt-Right, is riddle with misogynistic nerd-boys angry a strong female character was in their traditionally mostly white fictional (emphasis on fictional) Star Wars franchise to begin with.

We live in the era of Republican Postmodernism, i.e., there’s no truth to what they do and nothing very logical, but rather they’ll do anything to protect the power of the actual industrialist class, yet sadly, as always, the traditional Democratic powerbase lets them get away with this because they too are vested in the continuation of corporate power and neoliberalism. Even in the face of a growing paleoconservative, at this point outright looney, the Democrats decide to play “slow pitch” while the Republicans are essentially threatening fascism, i.e., an erosion of church and state, worship of police, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, racism, antisemitism, and unchecked power for “free market” entities such as corporations largely to battle the “scourge of Communism”. Nothing new.

The Right Wing has used paranoia about the now FDA approved Pfizer COVID vaccine to appeal to a sense of “overreaching government power hindering personal liberty”.

Essentially, Republicans have sided with the conspiracy theory if it serves a role in obstructing the Biden Administration who inherited the COVID-19 situation from the Trump Administration. It amounts to nothing more than Republicans playing politics by inserting COVID-19 into the larger culture wars of Liberal and Left vs Conservative and Far Right. The truth is that Republicans have no policy besides…making the rich wealthier, so they’ll jump on any sort of issue to blow to divert from this fact, such as crying about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s dress, as if they weren’t just trying to continue a twenty-year war in Afghanistan which cost US taxpayers 2.3 trillion dollars and made windfall profits for wealthy investors in defense contractors. Republicans are also doing a good a job of whitewashing and downplaying the January 6th Insurrection which I feel is a mistake by the Biden Administration, Justice Department, and mainstream media. If anything, January 6th should be the top storyline to discourage the behavior rather than Democrats “playing nice” as they always do with an adversary that wishes for them to fail at every step of the way.

This goes to show how petty and disingenuous (fake) Republicans or conservative pundits can be, but this sense of desperation is revealing because I feel it shows that ultra-wealthy capitalists in power are afraid of change, and see small examples of change, so they are double downing on their attacks going so far as supporting a universe of solipsism and conspiracy theory.

Instead of unifying over a comprehensive plan to fight the pandemic they rather be the “high horse moral hold-outs” preaching about personal liberty, giving teary eyes speeches at School Board hearings, mocking people have lost loved ones from the virus, etc. Instead of unity, they are championing other causes such as Blue Lives Matters (dangerously eroding the political impartiality of police and military) where police routinely violated people’s constitutional rights such as people not being allowed to ask the simple question without altercation about “why am I being pulled over”. Let’s not forget the countless unneeded deaths, warrantless searches, police destroying property (we always focus on rioters but never police who damage property), confiscation of property (civil forfeiture), and the fact that police are protected with Qualified Immunity, i.e., those charged with upholding the law are somehow given doubt when a mis-allocation of the law is applied to the public. I find it funny that the supposed “anti-government” party doesn’t realize that police are…government. But I suppose they let this slide because police are just protectors of private property in theory where most private property is held by those with the most money and power…

III. Rose McGowan, Anti-COVID Vax Rebels, The Right-Wing Conspiracy Cloud, Right Wing Sexual Abuse yet using conspiracy as a deflection tool, and The Cult of Personal Liberty.

But let’s stay on course regarding the absurdity of the Nicki Minaj situation. Rose McGown came to her defense.

Yet, Rose McGowan recently came to the support of Larry Elder who recently lost in a failed recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Rose McGowan during her speech in support of Larry Elder channeled the collective cloud of Right-Wing conspiracy theory or passionate revolutionary talking points, i.e., the concept of Hollyweird, nods to the degeneracy of the “coastal elites”, but also putting individual liberty before all else even during a global pandemic where 680,652 Americans as of 9/17/21 at 5:54 PM have lost their lives. With 9/11 having recently passed but with that day there was a general sense for an attempt at national unity, what ever happened to the adage of “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country?”

Individual liberty is often coopted unilaterally by the political Right Wing and this manifests itself into Patriot Movements (often with racist undertones), militias (often with racist undertones), and groups such the Proud Boys (who have conducted violence during the pandemic such as two people being stabbed at the Los Angeles City Hall) where the Proud Boys in many cases have created a nexus with law enforcement officers during the rise of the Blue Lives Matter movement, etc. Dennis Romero (2021) stated, “Rick Fitzgerald, then an officer with the Fresno Police Department, allegedly participated in a Proud Boys counter-demonstration on March 14 outside a theater being sold to a church that protesters said was hostile to the LGBTQ community and marriage equality.” Let’s not forget that active-duty police members participated in the January 6th Insurrection at the US Capitol.

If anything, the Right Wing is simply using the pandemic to take the higher moral ground of being for liberty, when really, they’re just being obstructionist at this point and helping to continue the pandemic which has killed nearly 1 million Americans.

I find it interesting that conspiracies such as “de-population” are often pushed relating to COVID-19 but maybe the Republicans are the ones supporting “de-population” considering they’re stepping in the way of unity approaching this situation. If anything, this claim might have some basis considering Republicanism has facets of Doomsday Millennialism by way of Evangelical Christianity, i.e., the worst things get the more religious pariahs can exploit the masses.

They are selfishly using the moral case for liberty to undermine a logical and unified pathway out of the pandemic. Yet, anti-Vaxxer rhetoric, or rather let’s call it “vaccination conspiracy rhetoric”, such as that smugly pushed by Kim Iversen of The Hill’s Rising program and even Joe Rogan himself, attempt to “keep an open mind” about vaccinations, but they miss the point. being we’ve committed as a nation to this specific vaccination plan, so obstructing it along the way for “woke right wing” “down with the man” talking points is equivalent to going on a long road trip and as you arrive to your destination some wise guy says, “did you lock the door back home” and throwing everyone into doubt.

Of course, other remedies were studied by qualified researchers when COVID first hit the United States, such as researchers studying medications relating to Ebola, Zika, and Dengue Fever, but the consensus was to go the mRNA pathway, where the mRNA pathway is offering better research and insight into virology, oncology (study of cancers), etc. It’s not that science into new techniques or pre-existing techniques is over, but rather the medical community for the sake of order determined a linear path forward, and with millions of Americans already being vaccinated and living, all this conspiracy theory is annoying at best. The detractors assume that medical researchers didn’t study other things and didn’t agree on a consensus moving forward with the path at hand.

Yet, the most sinister thing about the Republican power base using the individual liberty card is that they really don’t care about people. They don’t care about the droves of MAGA hat wearing, bikers, cop supporters protesting in places like Huntingdon Beach, California, or some small town in Ohio or wherever. Many notable ant-vaccination advocates have…died. Herman Cain himself was confirmed as being killed by COVID.

Rather, the goal of the Republican power base is to conflate personal liberty with corporate liberty, i.e., corporate personhood, because corporations are legal people, meaning that Republicans by stirring up hate within their base of ordinary citizens on the grounds of “personal liberty” can help corporations dodge regulations, thus keeping wealth in the hands of a few. Nothing profound about it but it’s so hard for people to realize this.

The truth is that individual liberty of the actual human will never be as strong as the individual liberty of the corporate person where the corporate person is able to effectively “pose” as just one of the “fellas”, when really, it’s a life-sucking institution, a sort of stateless colony outsourcing suppressing workers to police, who inhabit skyscrapers with webs stretching across the Earth, that must convince ordinary people to subvert the regulation of power. Corporations as is, are like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The bring convenience but at a price but don’t acknowledge the price. Sure, they provide mass produced goods and services, but at what costs?The individual Republican may be anti-vax, anti-gun control, be a climate change denier, etc., but this translates to the corporate person as being indifferent to public health if it hinders profit, selling products indifferent of their destruction to the human masses, and being free to pollute, etc.

Individual Republicans under the Cult of Personal Liberty end up being pawns for the protection and consolidation of corporate power which ironically creates the dilemmas workers, many conservatives, face. For example, Karl Marx didn’t steal anyone’s pension or job, but rather it was bunch of “consulting firms”, venture capitalists, and private equity businesses.  

Therefore, Republican’s support “individual liberty”. It’s not from a romantic ideal of the individual citizen under the social contract of thinkers like John Stuart Mills or J.J. Rosseau but rather a protection of property rights which benefits corporations posing as “legal human beings”. It’s effectively…fascism. A corporate state ruled with right-wing ideology and using nationalism as a guise of power. Therefore, the Koch Brother’s funded libertarian movements, or the John Birch Society was founded by rich industrialists (as well as co-founded by Revilo P. Oliver, who helped establish Neo Nazis is the USA) during the Cold War, but also why hate groups have long histories in areas with a radical worship of “individual liberty” such as Neo Nazis traditionally in places like Orange County, California (not coincidentally home to a large number of defense contractors). It’s nothing more than jack-boot pro-corporate fascism hidden under a usurpation of individual liberty for the benefit of the wealthy classes.

This phenomenon of “patriotic obstructionism layered with conspiracy” I believe is the result of people needing purpose in a time where they feel their identity is under attack or not valued by default as it was in the past, but the main reason they feel under attack is from the fear-mongering of the political Right Wing and former President Trump who dog-whistled to theories such as racial replacement, white supremacy such as Confederate apologetics, antisemitic tropes such as George Soros (as if he’s the only billionaire on the planet), etc.

Being contrarian during these times is a sense of self-empowerment and since people can obtain their own information and shape their own realities or conclusions (which isn’t problematic in theory), yet, often already having their conclusions in mind, people double-down on their beliefs, even though the deep-down reason for those beliefs is covering up a sense of powerlessness, i.e., fear. Many I would argue on the Right Wing are truly suffering from false consciousness, or they are unable to admit the true source of their languish because of so much of their identity was crafted by the system that creates the languish.

White identity politics, for example was effectively a construction for its inception (the modern concepts of race weren’t developed until the nineteenth century and its construction aligned with colonialist ambitions), so in the context of capitalism (descending from colonialism), whiteness was effectively always a “commodity with value”, yet since markets must expand, and the expansions of these markets actually benefit those of traditional “higher white value” (white populations benefitting from supply chains built from colonies), the original place on the top of the shelf now has to now share “shelf space”, and the commodity, i.e., white political identity, is suffering an insecurity that manifest itself as reactionary politics.

This feeling of powerlessness thus targets abstract concepts such as “elites”, “celebrities”, “Hollyweird”, etc., but beliefs are refined by political biases, i.e., a Republican will already have their conclusion made but then fill in the holes of their theories even if they don’t make sense or might even employ a few “Deus ex machinas”. It’s no different than Germans after WWI being in an economic dire situation, having their national pride hurt, decided to channel all their rage towards the Jews, despite the fact Kaiser Wilhelm rushed into a war through a horrible treaty with Austria-Hungry and used that his basis for his own military ambitions and personal pride. Looking the mirror isn’t a strong Right-Wing concept.

Qanon as a movement is a prime example. Qanon sparred the right wing from criticism, alleging that child abuse and trafficking is somehow the result of Democrats or liberals. They unilaterally attacked the political left, because moral conservatives see all sort of social progress, such as those of the LGBTQ community, specifically Trans peoples as the hot-button issue, as inherently “evil”, “satanic”, “New World Order”, “inverted”, etc.

Ironically, Qanon opportunists were often linked to sexual abuse of minors, such as Ruben Verastigui, a digital strategist for the Republican National Convention, having been arrested during an investigation into a child exploitation ring. Grant (2021) stated, “The detailed indictment contends that Verastigui had engaged in discussion on a website where a group of users allegedly traded child sexual abuse material and that he had claimed, in messages obtained by federal investigators, “Babies are some of my biggest turn-ons.”” Then there’s the case of Tim Nolan, who served as a Kentucky Judge and Trump loyalists. Nolan was charged with extorting female drug addicts for sex including from minors and is now serving a 20-year jail sentence. Both men preached on the surface a “moral crusade” such as being pro-life, going after legal of-age sex workers working in strip clubs, etc. More creeps can be read in the New Republic article by Melissa Gira Grant (2021).

Rose McGowan as a survivor, likely suffering from mental health issues, is now supporting a political party which has made plenty of pro-sexual assault statements particularly when relating to a woman’s right to choose abortion, but even as Grant (2021) of The New Republic reported is filled with sex offenders. Let’s not forget the pending case against Matt Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, etc.

The issue with Rose McGowan coming to the defense of Nicki Minaj is twofold in that 1) supporting Nicki helps Rose on her ideological mission as she strives to gain “ideological allies” in prominent positions of power such as those with celebrity status, but 2) Rose McGowan is also rallying against the sexual abuse she claims she suffered [I do believe her, but must state claim because I am not privy to all the legal proceedings] but Nicki Minaj was involved in defending her brother who was arrested and charged for the sexual assault of an 11 year old child. This is a horrible crime, yet, it seems Nicki was coming to the defense of her brother to plea mercy for him, but, the crime is horrific and justice was served.

Think about that. Rose McGowan who in part is rallying against a culture of sexual abuse especially within the entertainment industry is supporting a celebrity who used her position of power to cover for her brother who was charged with the sexual assault of a minor.

Please, tell me you see the hypocrisy and irony of this situation…. A possible survivor of sexual assault [I do believe Rose, but I am not privy to the legal proceedings] is supporting Nicki Minaj who defended her brother was convicted of raping his stepdaughter beginning when she was 11 years old.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock (10519064p) Rose McGowan speaks at a press conference outside the Criminal Court in New York. Harvey Weinstein court hearing, New York, USA – 06 Jan 2020

Further, Nicki Minaj’s husband recently plead guilty to not registering as a sex offender in California. So, her brother is in prison for rape, her husband is now a registered sex offender, and “a friend of friend” is now “impotent” claiming it was because of the COVID-19 vaccination but his affliction was likely due to a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia but was likely too embarrassed to admit to his partner of his infidelity.

So, it seems the people around Nicki Minaj aren’t the best people, and Nicki isn’t the best ally necessarily for Rose McGowan who suffered from abuse throughout her life.  But Rose isn’t necessarily the best ally to herself. Yet, Rose not being logically able come to this simple set of facts seems to insinuate that Rose does suffer from mental health issues, i.e., she’s so committed to whatever it is she’s committed to that she will disregard facts if her agenda is met. I’m not a psychologist at all, but it seems that when people suffer trauma they sometimes engage in unhealthy or even radical activities, such as why people join cults. She thinks she’s liberated but I think the “cult allure” is too much a part of her. I can only image that being blacklisted either for her own behavior or possibly because of her bold participation in the MeToo Movement is hard, so having lived a life of insulate splendor during the better part of her career such as her stint on Charmed, but now possibly suffering hard times (relatively speaking considering she still has money most likely), it seems that Rose is hustling to survive and stay relevant.

I feel bad for Rose McGowan mostly, yet Anna Kasparian of The Young Turks did bring up a good tangent about how Rose’s need for attention is a type of “white feminism”, which Kasparian defined as being a “me, me, me” sort of feminism indifferent to the collective success of others, largely because Rose is engaging with the obstructionist warfare that the Republicans are conducting (not to mention whitewashing the literal attempted overthrow of the US government).

Yet, she was raised in a cult, was in a relationship with Marylin Manson who is now being called out for abuse in relationships, and she was a young actress in the Good Ole Boy Hollywood system particularly in the 1990s which as decade where the likes of Jeffrey Epstein operated with impunity, yet, it seems that Rose has an attraction to people or cultures of manipulation based on her past, even though she is strong-willed (in a sense) but wouldn’t admit she has issues as it would defeat the persona of her as a strong warrior woman rallying against the system. Essentially Rose now supporting the GOP is just another attempt at finding belonging under a system that has cult like tendencies, but the GOP is being opportunistic and using her, because she needs the help and they need the ammunition against the political Left or Liberals, etc.  She’s searching for religion or any sort of ideology.

IV. Nicki Minaj and Postmodernism. A casualty, participant, and promoter of it.

But let’s analyze Nicki’s tweet. I must state that just because she made this tweet doesn’t mean that Nicki is “Far Right” but rather I see it as a consequence of the postmodern condition, and I don’t say this trying to be “auteur”, profound, or with a distanced critical and nihilistic gaze of judgement.

Nicki persona is a mix of hyper-reality, distortion, elongated, plastic, Barbie, etc. High definition, insane bosom, pink latex avatar floating in bleh of modern culture.

An empowered, postmodern, sexually liberated figure, appropriating the “Bimbo” aesthetic (and I don’t say that to be disrespectful considering there’s an actual movement or subculture that aligns labels itself as Bimbo), recycling pop culture pastiche from “Whatever” or “As if” Clueless tropes to The Devil Wears Prada or Cruella DeVil boss-bitch feminism. She displays the punk like confidence of sexual feminism with type of Neon colored, Marylin Monroe, Madonna, Lil Kim, “get yo money” stripper confidence, Power Puff Girl, with a sinister undertone of pornographic Fashionista, a type of Cleopatra figure, who walks male studs by their “members” for a night of empowered debauchery. Yet, her art and persona are protected by fans who have a para-social relationship with her and big business because she is so “off the walls” (profitable) when relating to modern female empowerment, e.g., the concept of “rachet” is punk per pop culture where pop culture is capitalist culture, and capitalist culture is a facet of a postmodern condition.

Nicki is an “object” of the marketplace, and her opinion relating to COVID is an example I’d argue of the postmodern condition. Her post was within the “flux of the internet” which is a chaotic universe of information and misinformation. And in many ways Nicki, for this tweet (not her past behavior such as covering for sexual assault allegations of her family) is simply a casualty reacting to a universe of hyper-reality, jittery paranoia, conspiracy theories, astrology, New Age “far out” thought, fear of power, the realities of the disorganization of democratic information, etc.

Nicki, just like you or I are floating in a sort of “matrix of information” where the quest for truth is a complicated matter, because people don’t necessarily trust the institutions that help maintain truth, or people might simply not want to accept a truth because such truth might pose a risk to their individualistic power or essence. For example, a white nationalist would reject the “Out of Africa” hypothesis even though it has overwhelming consensus, was done with constant peer reviewed research, and ironically most scientists are white people, simply because it poses a threat to his or her ideological worldview of supremacy.

But postmodernity to me is when society reaches a sort of “apex”, for example, late-stage capitalism, where a society maxes itself out and as a result starts creating copies of itself as in the concepts of simulacra and simulation by Baudrillard, i.e., society starts recycling itself, e.g., making anachronistic fashion, pastiche (coined by Frederick Jameson) which is parody that lacks parody, merging high art with low art, etc. Real and fake become hard to discern from, and this is a concept explored by Philip K. Dick in this book The Man in the High Castle, where real authentic original items are confused with knock off items, but people still value the knock off item as original or authentic because value is subjective.

Yet, the defining principle of the postmodern condition is the “incredulity towards metanarratives” as presented by Lyotard, i.e., people stop believing in grand narratives or objective truths and start living in their own truths, or people are unable to discern a truth if even having a genuine meaning to find it, where such truths are often crafted by the imagery projected from the system as is, such as pop culture, marketing, symbols, etc. Simply hearing the concept of “incredulity towards metanarrative” already we can see how conspiracy theory is endemic to modern times. Or, Frederic Jameson stated postmodernism as being the logic of late-stage capitalism and where commodification culture becomes the de-facto culture, and we determine our truths from that, i.e., the market, not necessarily nature, is our source of truth.

“According to Jameson, postmodernity has transformed the historical past into a series of emptied-out stylizations (what Jameson terms pastiche) that can then be commodified and consumed. The result is the threatened victory of capitalist thinking over all other forms of thought.” (Dino Felluga, Purdue University, 2011). 

“That apparent victory of commodification over all spheres of life marks postmodernity’s reliance on the “cultural logic of late capitalism.”” (Dino Felluga, Purdue University, 2011)

Postmodernity isn’t political because postmodernity rejects any sort of truth, i.e., it’s not left wing or right wing, because these are ideologies, i.e., frameworks based on ideas, despite the Right Wing such as through people such as Pat Buchanan and even Jordan B. Peterson, attempted to assign progressivism explicitly with Postmodernism, e.g., the concept of “Cultural Marxism”.

In many ways, people like Jameson weren’t preaching for postmodernism but simply pointing out the reality of it, which is a reality that descends from capitalism, but from my understanding of it, postmodernism is just an extension of capitalism, not Marxism. Postmodern solipsism is good for markets and as Jameson warned is just a means of turning all culture into a commodity culture, which of course benefits business.

Sure, as a framework or analytical tool, many underlying suppositions of modern “leftist” stances we could consider to be of a postmodern tradition, because the framework at some point or another for analysis purposes was used to analyze power systems, for example, under the broad spectrum of feminist ideologies you do have postmodern feminism which studies semiotics (symbols), preconceived truths (men are stronger thus fit to rule or men are more stable leaders), historical revisionism (where history often championed male contribution over female, or the fact that women were often violently removed from participation in society), etc., to study patriarchy and how in many ways it is a construct of power simply positing itself a “solid truth”.

But to state that Leftist or “Liberal” (where liberal actually encompasses both Democrat and Republican politics in the US) is explicitly postmodern is false, and it’s dangerous to even insinuate that, because by insinuating that Leftist stances are postmodernism, what one is really saying is that the lives and grievances of marginalized groups are “solipsistic” or “Dada nonsense”, which is false. The scope and scale of how much postmodernism was used in let’s say the 1960s and 1970’s is debatable, but the political-right has a goal of blowing it out of proportion to undermine progressive causes.

Simply put, you can’t state that Civil Rights or the liberation of marginalized groups is explicitly postmodern because the need for liberation pre-existed the introduction of postmodernism into political discourse. For example, a black man not wanting to be lynched doesn’t mean he’s a postmodernist. A black family wanting a house without discrimination doesn’t mean they’re being postmodernist trying to “goobley gop the very underpinnings of logic”. A woman wanting to earn income and vote doesn’t make her a postmodernist. A Jewish person wanting to open a business and let’s say doing a good job at it, doesn’t make him or her a postmodernist. But a Republican who purposely pushes conspiracy theory in order to shroud their true attentions of protecting free markets for the benefit of a few, is postmodern.

Yet, as stated, postmodernity is a framework or worldview. It’s like a “ray gun that deconstructs and scans things” to see the inner workings of power structures, because power structures often layer their power with an array of symbols, culture, historical revisionism, defense mechanisms, hidden agendas (such as the need to constantly profit by capitalist organizations), etc. Yet, the ray gun has a “use with caution” sticker on it because the allure of falling too far into deconstruction can lead one into the abyss of the “existential abyss of abstraction” as one tries to analyze a powerful byzantine structure which never ceases to sleep, i.e., capitalism doesn’t turn off, unless it’s shut off. The issue with postmodern analysis isn’t that it exists but that there’s an allure in being caught up in the analysis and this can undermine the need for action.

For example, fields such as Critical Theory often study pop culture and media, i.e., people in this field are peeling away the jingles, bright colors, motifs, perfectly presented food, etc. (for example, read Don DeLillo’s novel, White Noise), to reveal the harsh truth of what goes on behind the scenes and how pop culture is really a subversive way to enslave people to consumerism by appealing to their inner fears, desires, insecurities, our social nature to fit in, etc.

So, (1) there’s postmodernism as an analytical framework, i.e., a way of looking at things, which is a powerful tool and often can be helpful (2) there’s postmodernism as a tool for application, which can be used in whatever way the user wants to, for example, when a sociologists is studying pop culture’s effect on the masses, or, for example how the Alt-Right in many ways is simply “conservative postmodernism”, i.e., it uses pseudo-science, conspiracy theory, recycled 80s pastiche for nostalgia purposes, memes, etc., as a means of “deconstructing the progressive movement, which was in itself a deconstruction of the older conservative order”, i.e., “attempting to deconstruct what deconstructed the old white hetero-patriarchy order in order to return to that order”, and (3) there’s postmodernism as a natural condition, i.e., people living in a late-stage capitalist system, often exhibiting existential or even nihilistic tendencies, because society has reached a sort of “ideological end state”, where society is “too aware of itself”, processes have largely engulfed people into byzantine structures, culture is based on market forces, and people are engulfed by “informational overload” or hyper-reality, thus subverting objective truths or even disregarding the possibility that such objective truths are possible to begin with, etc.

Hence, postmodernism as an analytic isn’t bad and in many ways is a useful tool for understanding the very postmodern condition that resulted from the “maxing out” of industrialist and capitalist societies, where capitalist societies to stay relevant use inventive ways to further hide their power.

In many ways, Nicki, Rose, many Trump supporters, really conspiracy theorist of any race or background are just postmodern people laboring under the illusions of market forces and pop culture, searching for meaning, but lost in the sheer overload of information, but guided often by opportunist who simply want to exploit them for financial gains (being capitalists).

V. Summary

In summary Nicki’s tweet about COVID is just another shard of misinformation by a person subjected to misinformation in a fast-paced informational world, i.e., a “hyper reality”, and even Rose McGowan is a consequence of this system too. Essentially, people are going insane by the plethora of competing story lines within the ether of the internet, yet most people are simply being exploited at a distance by the influence of corporations who are the main culprits in the creation of the postmodern condition to begin with. The way how Nicki Minaj’s tweet of information was appropriated by a political party that is happy to push misinformation to protect the individual liberty of corporations is proof that we are still living in a postmodern condition, even though the ideology of postmodernism is allegedly “dead”. Minaj is like a toy created by a corporation to push a conspiracy that feeds back to the power of corporations and unhindered markets. There’s nothing revolutionary about Nicki. Sure, she’s entertaining, but her entertainment in and of itself is only profound because the senses of the masses have already been pushed to the limits, to the further we push the limits, we deem it as being profound, when really, it’s all a continuation of a system trying to maintain relevance. Postmodernism cannot truly die with the existing economic order of neoliberalism still in existence because the neoliberal order by its very nature needs misinformation as a shroud to protect and direct attention away from its underlying animus of power.

Sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-police-officer-fired-over-ties-proud-boys-extremist-group-n1263706

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/um-research-debunks-nicki-minaj-covid-vaccine-infertility-conspiracy-theories/ar-AAOtvqk?ocid=uxbndlbing

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/proud-boys-anti-vaxx-violence-los-angeles_n_6118888de4b01da700f6785c

https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/nicki-minaj-s-husband-pleads-guilty-failure-register-sex-offender-n1278915

https://newrepublic.com/article/161383/non-hypocrisy-qanons-sexual-politics

https://cla.purdue.edu/academic/english/theory/postmodernism/modules/jamesonpostmodernity.html

Tool, Pulp Fiction, Fascism, Fräuleins, Cops and George Floyd: How Pulp Fiction’s Pawn Shop scene is analogous to George Floyd’s Death by Quinton Mitchell (C).

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What is the difference between the many cop deaths shown on TV and a snuff film? This paper is for Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Daunte Wright, Kurt Reinhold, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Jacob Blake, Michael Brown, Kristiana Coignard (White), Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Amadou Diallo, Rayshard Brooks, Sean Monterrosa (Latinx), Walter Scott, Samuel DuBose, Manuel Ellis, Zachary Hammond (White), Ricardo Hayes, Aiyana Stanley Jones, Michael Lee Marshall, Marc Ramos, Kathryn Johnston, Rayshard Brooks, Atatiana Jefferson, Isiah Murrietta-Golding, Sureshbhai Patel (Asian – Indian Subcontinent) etc. These names include black, white, AAPI, and Hispanic but there are too many names to mention.

Who would have thought that the lyrics of the band Tool would be a great way to analyze racial injustice? Or, who would have thought that the sheer terror presented in Pulp Fiction’s pawn shop scene would be a microcosm of the terror that underlies our very feet within the real world – both past and present?

Tool released their album, Undertow in 1993. I remember being a kid during the ,glorious” days of the 1990s watching MTV, maybe it was on Beavis and Butthead, and seeing Tool’s music video for Prison Sex. It did not terrify me surprisingly, but it did leave a lasting mark as far as Tool’s ability to take things into realms that are dreamlike or nightmarish, or later what I would learn would be called the Jungian. Music at this point was taking on more of a darker sensibility post-Nirvana with bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, etc. Tool was my first introduction to Industrial-type metal, which was later reinforced by my discovery of Nine Inch Nails, especially with their music video Closer around 1996. The next year after Tool’s Undertow was released, I remember being a kid and overhearing Entertainment Tonight and they were talking about Spike Lee having issue with Quentin Tarantino’s new film, called Pulp Fiction, largely for the liberal use of n-word. I was aware of Spike Lee of course since my parents were film fans and I was alive in the late-80s to early 90s Black Revival of the arts (It’s a Different World, Roc, Do the Right Thing, the works of Robert Townsend, etc.), i.e., we had plenty of Jet magazines stashed around the house.

I did not know much about Tarantino and never really considered him a big director in the early to mid-nineties, because this was at a point where a director was simply a director, i.e., I didn’t see things as art yet since I was just a child. The only film that reminded me of Tarantino up to that point (I may have seen snippets of True Romance at my grandmother’s house in Miami), was the film Swingers by Jon Favreau, in which Tarantino is only referenced. The film by Favreau depicts a crew of young white horny males in Los Angeles searching for action, work, love, etc. They all party and live in apartments, but there is a poster of Reservoir Dogs within one of them, and one of the main characters who gets into a parking lot altercation draws a gun to the rebuke of his friends played by Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Essentially, early Tarantino represented film for angry white boys. A type of power fantasy for white males to envision themselves as hustlers, heist man, crooks, not taking junk. Fantasy about liberally dropping n-bombs and making dirty jokes in midnight diners about the color of this or that waitresses’ pubic hair. We have to remember that Tarantino did come on the scene as gangster rap had already won popularity, so with black males of rough backgrounds now seen as in vogue, and it’s almost as if Tarantino knew he had a market in the alternative. Masculinity wasn’t simply The Marlboro Man or Arnold Schwarzenegger but men like Tupac where Tupac in our racist past would be called a “mouthy n-word” or Denzel Washington would’ve been called an “uppity n-word” or a black dandy for simply breaking boundaries. Hell, even up to this day we see students busted For blackface, NBA owners caught dropping n-bombs, etc. Yet, in the film Swingers by Favreau, one of the men who attempt to fight Patrick Van Horn’s character (named Sue) is depicted as a white hip hop poser, insinuating that white adoption of black culture was prominent which it was, but to many it was seen as odd or out of place.

However, in recent times, well, the early 2000s, Tarantino has actively tried to eradicate his older perception as the “angry white boy director” with his Revenge Trilogy such as Kill Bill featuring a female lead, Django Unchained featuring an African American lead, and Inglorious Bastards featuring Jewish men in roles of strength and strong, developed, non-sexualized female characters. Including Jackie Brown with Pam Grier and even Randy Brooks as Holdaway in Reservoir Dogs, one can see an admiration that Tarantino has for black actors within American cinema, despite the truth that most black actors up until recent times were often caricature or side-pieces. It was not that Tarantino was racist per se, but rather he was recycling tropes of American cinema which were regressive (a nice word), yet, his defenses to his earlier works did display a lack in his understanding of why people reacted which is arguably a sign of…privilege. But, to get that out of the way, in this piece in no way am I considering Tarantino to be racist at all and he is not the central focus. He simply had growing to do, which we all do.

I didn’t see Pulp Fiction which was released in 1994 until way later in high school around 2003, and only because a girl I sat next to in chemistry class, stated she saw it on TV and it was crazy. Curious, I saw it, and it was crazy. This was before I would later fall into a fascination with postmodernism be it Don DeLillo, the works of Cronenberg, etc. After seeing Pulp Fiction, I saw the infamous scene of the rape in the pawn shop by Zed on Marsellus Wallace. But, now in 2020, seeing George Floyd call for his mother, while this smaller white male sits on his neck, instantly recalled Tool’s song Prison Sex. “Shit, blood and cum on my hands”, “Do unto others what has been done to me. Do unto others what has been done to you”, “I’ve got my hands bound. My head down, my eyes closed”, “You look so precious”, “Released in this sodomy”, “You’re breathing so I guess you’re still alive”. A white male cop taking pleasure in exerting his power over a black male while the black male calls for his mother. Effectively, the cops took the notion of calling a black man “boy” to the next level and all for the public to see.

Scene from Prison Sex by Tool

Even in George’s death, the sadness that people felt when they saw the scene but also heard those words, effectively stripped George of his honor, his masculinity, and forever left the image of him as a helpless victim with no means of fighting back legally, which makes something already tragic into something even more sinister. For example, when it comes Nazis, the terrifying thing is not simply how they came to be and all the atrocities they did, but rather how in a sense…they got away with it. Even in death, their power lingered as people tried to cope with their humanity. White supremacy in all its forms sees the world though a clinical, materialist, Darwinist struggle to survive, and it realizes that time is the greatest alibi, so the more damage or assault it can do, the more legacy it can leave. They do not want to just kill; they want to haunt. That is where their power comes from. The ability to make “sexy” their cruelty by turning it into legend which therefore time and time again will be analyzed in literature, film, TV, etc. This concept was explored by Don DeLillo in his 1986 National Book Award winner, White Noise, in which the protagonist, Jack Gladney, is a professor of Hitler Studies at a small liberal arts school in a pop culture department, which was done by DeLillo to explore how we assign objects (people, events, etc.), different meanings over time. DeLillo was right. Think about it. All one must do is turn on History Channel or History Channel 2 and find a documentary on Hitler such as Hitler’s Mega Weapons, Nazis and the Occult, or Hitler’s Sex Life. Essentially, we have turned a monster into an immortal pop culture celebrity, thus, it should not surprise you that decade after decade, a few people take his atrocities not as atrocities but rather as achievements. As a black man, I have heard at parties, “Hitler was a bad guy but…he had some good ideas”.  

There are many similarities between the Pawn Shop scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020. First off, George Floyd and Ving Rhames, obviously are two large muscular black males, thus they can create a sense of fear in others, which is unfair, but unfortunately how the iconography of the black male has been presented within American, Western, and even Asian societies. Secondly, both men suffered assaults with one obviously in reality and the other on film, yet, both men’s assailants were white males with Derek Michael Chauvin as a real life police officer whereas Zed in Pulp Fiction played by Peter Greene is a security guard. They instantly have positions of power, with Chauvin having real power and protection based on the law, whereas Zed has power in an almost pathetic way, yet, his “mall cop status” is still symbolic of the quest to dominate. Zed represents the angry white male, typically blue collar or low-income who fear what they perceive as competition. If Zed were a real person, he would vote for Donald Trump.

Both men, one real and one fictional, both represent power, with Derek Chauvin representing power through the notion of law and order, whereas Zed’s sense of power comes from sex and domination. But is there a difference? A white male cop dominating what he might perceive as his sexual threat. Cops are people. They watch CNN, Tucker Carlson on Fox News, were conditioned to vote Republican or Democrat, surf sub-Reddits, leave comments we might regret on social media, show up to work drunk, watch pornography (gauging penis sizes since masculinity has been reduced to nothing more than this in our postmodernist world or getting angry if they stumble on the “interracial” section), scroll through Instagram, etc.

It is my personal belief that the failures of our society are largely because we simply do not call out the reasons for the actions underlying the atrocities. Simple: fear, sex, power, needing attention, etc. That would be too easy to simply call it like it is. What am I about to say next is in no way meant to shame female sexuality, agency, and/or power. Rather, I am simply pointing to how sex and fascism are correlated and how it hides in our midst. For example, if you are familiar with Instagram it is not hard to find the hundreds of thousands if not millions (as it seems) models which post daily. Hyper-sexual, out of reach, depictions stimulating sexual desires for the droves of bored males equally as lost regarding purpose in our postmodern landscape which has now been defined by gender dynamics, intersectionality, the pressures of globalism, wealth disparity in a society fueled by conspicuous consumption, etc. However, within this category there is what I call the Freulein industry, i.e., sexually provocative women who are conservative and simply seem to be there to promote sexual stimulation for the support of supremacy. The reality is that the USA is of Germanic origins with German’s accounting for many of the white population, but Anglo-Saxon culture (English) is a branch of Germanic culture, thus, it seems safe to say that our white culture has many roots within the Germanic frame of thought, its aesthetics, etc. Something that would be interesting to explore another time. Regardless, these models use a mix of conservatism, country music, militarism, guns, Pro-Trump rhetoric, doses of cultural appropriation (sexually charged hip hop music), but all of this, to them at least, is justified by simply leaving a Biblical quote underneath their OnlyFans link. This sort of sexual stimulation is meant to embolden the “white knight mentality”, i.e., to breed for and defend the Western “white” race, and women simply are there to serve men by offering a type of reward for good and noble service. It is also an attempt at winning the race for being the most desired, because the most desired in theory becomes the most protected. This mythology making linked to sexuality is nothing new, and arguably has been deployed by groups such as the Nazis, who in turn were appropriating dark age and medieval notions of masculinity and femininity as they revolted against the modern age (while ironically using modernist practices to assault people). Yet, it is 2020, which just goes to prove that human nature has changed but hasn’t, and despite these people operating in code through the concept of sexually stimulating content, they are in fact aware of their intended audiences and overall “agenda”.

I am no Freudian scholar but based on “pop cultural and academic osmosis”, I feel it is safe to say that Freud simply reduced our activity to sexual behavior, or, rather sex was central to his analysis. From what I know of the time in which Freud existed, the Austrian intellectual scene in which he inhabited, gave us many pre-modernist or modernist thinkers who foresaw the sexual undertones and tension soon to come within the unfolding complex landscape of early democratic experiments, the consequences of industrialization, the liberation of females, and the permeation of the Scientific Method into all facets of life. I mean, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose last name the term Masochism comes from was active during the times of Freud, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing and Isidor Isaak Sadger (with the later compounding the terms of sadism and masochism utilized by Krafft into the term S&M). Masoch interestingly wrote Venus in Furs (1870), which  interestingly inspired the song by the Velvet Underground & Nico (Fact: Nico was a racist), whom were under the tutelage of Andy Warhol, who in turn popularized “pop art”, which is a trope within postmodernism, where postmodernism – despite what a neoconservative will argue – is a consequence of capitalism as it bled into its post-capitalist phase. Masosch was alive during the time of Freud, Jung, etc., but this Austrian Renaissance also produced later thinkers such as Otto Weininger who wrote Sex and Character (1903) which speaks about the Madonna-Whore complex (adding in some self-hating Anti-Semitism and plenty of misogyny), Franz Kafka, Stefan Zweig, etc. As far the S is S&M it comes from the infamous Marquis de Sade, who was a libertine writer before the French Revolution. As a noble of the French nobility he was able to use his position of power to engage in sexual debauchery including reported kidnapping, rape, molestation, drugging, etc. Ironically, de Sade despite being imprison at the Bastille was later a member of France’s National Convention as a delegate, and some could say Sade’s writings were existentialism before existentialism and taken to its sexual extremes, and themes such as this were explored by modern horror and LGBT author, Clive Barker, in his novel, The Hellbound Heart (1986), later adapted into the film Hellraiser (1987).

Back to Pulp Fiction and the George Floyd death, both Derek’s and Zed’s power overlap with Zed simply being the hyperreal avatar of the white supremacist police state of a waning capitalist society where the underlying anima of such a state is a harsh hierarchical order built upon ideologies that promote domination and submission (patriarchy, racial segregation, worker exploitation, militarism for the benefit of economic elites, etc.). Regardless of politics or sex, the underlying notion is power and this Darwinist viewpoint is exemplified in the notion of policing in the United States which itself was built upon a racial caste system, or, what I like to call a psycho-sexual-racial caste system. I insert the “psycho-sexual” into the term because fear of the black male in a white male dominated society, often dealt with sexuality such fear of the black male “violating” white purity, fear of miscegenation or racial mixing, etc.

Basically, it is all about competition and monopolizing resources to make survival easier under this racial Darwinist viewpoint, but the underlying reason is arguably insecurity and fear, which ironically is not superior at all.

Pulp Fiction is a key example of postmodern fiction. It employs an irregular plot structure, distorts our notions of time, blurs high art with low art such as infusing dialogue and world-building with pop culture references (almost to the point where it could be argued all the characters are simply inhabiting a comic book, i.e., pulp is a genre of comic), distorts the viewers notion of stability by mixing seemingly safe environments with very dangerous criminal underbellies creating a feeling where the characters are mere mortals under the cruel games of “the gods” (something I notice when watching Cohen Brothers’ films, e.g., Fargo or Burn After Reading, or a similar concept such as that of H.P. Lovecraft’s notion of cosmic horror, e.g., humans are insignificant players in a larger cosmic game), and plays with psychoanalysis relating to power dynamics in a relativistic or nihilistic universe typically through depictions of sexual fetishism, e.g., in the novel, White Noise (1987), where the main character, Jack Gladney, has a fetish for his wife’s leggings which makes him fantasize about masculinity in antiquity, or, the protagonist in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) – an example work of the cracking of modernity into postmodernity – who has an obsession with prepubescent females, or, the infamous scene of coprophagia in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (just one of the many types of fetishes depicted in the novel, e.g., sex slaves, orgies, etc.).

Postmodernism is basically what it sounds like, i.e., “after modernity”, which, in other words, is a study of when humanity reaches its apex after the successes of modernity (and its failures). Society finds itself at the end of its logical conclusion, thus becoming consumed by a reality which ceases taking on an objective truth(s) and takes on a subjective, multi-dimensional, relativistic sentiment. There is no truth. This is not an original point I am making, but the show Seinfeld in a lite sense is a nihilist show, i.e., it is a show about nothing filled with characters, in an advanced civilization, lost in some comedic tragedy getting into random adventures. Postmodernity is when a machine becomes so efficient and reaches an apex that it starts to make copies of itself and people can’t distinguish between what is real or what is not, or what is original or what is a knock-off, which is a theme explored in Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962), or even the film, The Matrix by the Wachowski Sisters, which in itself was influenced by real-life French thinker Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation (1981).  

Other common notions, tropes, or pastiches of postmodernism is a sense of transgression, a tendency to merge things such as in “postmodernist era science fiction” with the notion of cyborgs or mutants (Robocop by Paul Verohoeven – released 1987), punk (anarchy, dystopia), cynicism, pseudo-science posing as hard sciences since what is science? (aliens, mind reading, tabloids, conspiracy theories),  cyberpunk which is a punk sentiment in a technologically advanced world dominated by corporations (Neuromancer by William Gibson – published 1984), informational overload, things that are nuclear (we’re so advanced we created weapons that can destroy us ten times over), and the deification of symbols largely from capitalist systems (Mickey Mouse is arguably as revered as Jesus on the Cross as far as recognizability), etc. Symbols and semiotics are an important part of the postmodernist condition and could be argued as the key signifier of a society entering or being within a postmodern epoch. For example, the concept of memes, can only be understood in theory if one has a reference of what is being shown, thus a meme requires a deep level of understanding and juxtaposition against other objects, but there’s so many worldviews that the symbol can take on multiple meanings, or, if someone were to unearth a meme somehow in the far future they wouldn’t be able to properly understand it without reference to something else. A meme is not simply a picture, but really an agglomeration of multiple reference points, often only understood or with significance at a given moment in time.

Since postmodernism rejects objective truth claims thus making it relativistic and/or nihilistic in nature, postmodernism arguably falls under existential philosophy of the Continental School (Descartes, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, etc.). Existential philosophy itself doubts an objective view of reality, such as Sartre’s statement that existence precedes essence, and this existential umbrella of thought might deal with simplistic notions of doubt or angst, whereas extreme versions bleed into solipsism. People inhabiting postmodern societies are effectively bots reduced to Darwinist power dynamics inhabiting a reality of simulations, so because we’re so far removed from our natures, despite our advancements, we end up transgressing simply to reattach to nature, hence the propensity of “hardcore” content within our current landscape albeit pornography, blood sport, empirical managerial sciences which are simply fancy ways of saying the strongest survives, etc. Further, since there is no soul, humans instead are reliant alone upon their cognition, i.e., their egos, but since reality has no truth, the general sense of the zeitgeist ceases being solid but rather takes on something neurotic, jittery, or schizophrenic. In a postmodernist world, we are nothing more than base material without free will languishing under illusions, who can be evolved or forged into new objects, and are reduced to simply fulfilling our base desires of keeping our material in existence, but lacking any real explanation of why we exists since any truth is beyond our cognitive capabilities.

My whole breakdown of postmodernism, at least to the degree I can understand it (a true postmodernist would reject any claim of definition), is important to the Pawn Shop scene in Pulp Fiction. A Pawn Shop is a heap of collected artifacts (nostalgia) but also currently valuable things (technology, equipment, etc.) so it contains an anachronistic element, i.e., it has objects from different decades and eras, and the value of such goods are relative to whomever wishes to buy them, or even the seller of said objects who can create value in an ad hoc fashion by simply gouging the price to create the perception of a higher intrinsic value. Objects are disregarded, dreams are sold away, and value is created on whim. Pawn Shops are also predatory in nature in that people give up their items for loans, but many people are already suffering from economic hardship. So, when one is entering into a Pawn Shop, they are really entering into a capitalist space with postmodern potential. It is like how in the Man in the High Castle (1962) by Philip K. Dick,  the character Robert Childan has an antique shop full of American regalia but some of his items are forgeries, but to the buyer they can’t differentiate.

The Pawn Shop is the orphanage or burial ground of capitalism. Capitalism creates the simulation by glossing its existence over with empirical data, but underneath the surface is nothing more than Precambrian desire to survive or dominate. It reduces humanity into material chasing material to make more material, and since material is separate from the concepts of the spiritual, capitalism, similarly to Marxism both reduce humanity to concepts such as power, dynamics, intersections, etc. We are mere material within the flux of time and space without any real understanding of why we are here, but capitalism romantically dolls up Darwinism to promote the individual, whereas Marxism romantically dolls up Darwinism to promote the collective.

The Pawn Shop in Pulp Fiction is a microcosm of the USA which produces capitalist junk, but the owner and Zed represent the white supremacist underbelly of this ideology, hence, it is not a surprise that Zed picks Marsellus to be assaulted. Zed himself craves power but the power he was able to obtain as a security guard is basically a knock-off of real power, so not having power, he’s wired to dominate to compensate, and his identity being central, which is  his race, gender, position, and etc., attempts to dominate any antithesis to his identity whenever it presents itself. To me the fact that Zed picked Marsellus first to be raped means that race of course plays a larger role in his insecurity relating to power, but since one gets physical gratification from sex, Zed also represents a desire for what it is he is not. It is no different than a tribal chieftain wanting the head of a worthy enemy or how a cannibal wants to consume a person to obtain their symbolic power or essence. Interestingly, Bruce Willis’ character was not actually sparred from assault, but rather he simply got away, but despite Zed’s meaningless game of “einy meeny miny moe”, Bruce was spared most likely because of his privilege, but only temporarily. Butch (Bruce Willis) easily could’ve left the Pawn Shop after killing the Gimp, by reducing Marsellus’ fate to the strongest survives, but instead finds honor in himself and a common humanity with Marsellus to save him. Butch thus was not a bystander but an active participant in fighting against the injustices of Zed and Maynard (white supremacy in a capitalist wasteland obsessed with power, domination, and race). Butch did his part by challenging this “system” which gave Marsellus enough time to avenge himself.  

So, let us relate this to our world with police and the general population. Marcellus and Butch are both under threat by Zed and Maynard, similarly to how both the white and black populations are subject to police abuse, yet, the disproportionate level of abuse that Marsellus experienced over Butch, to me is similar to the disproportionate levels of violence against black Americans when dealing with police. Zed representing police and Maynard represents the white supremacy that enables Zed (the Confederate Flag in the shop), and the place of the assaults – the Pawn Shop – is symbolic of a capitalist wasteland which seems to be the fate of the USA as disparity and tensions rise. Maynard’s sexual gratification by watching Zed assault Marsellus is symbolic of how people watch police murders on TV. Many people support the police under the concept of law and order, or in Zed terms… BDSM. For example, during the Ferguson Riots, I vividly remember the police flaunting their power, wearing eerie paramilitary uniforms – faces covered – as they posed for closeups and rolled MRAPs (tanks) down streets. It was like the postmodern equivalent of putting down a “slave revolt” as millions of white eyes watched in fear from suburbia as their “boys in blue” kept them, their property, their money, etc., safe. What is the difference between the many cop deaths shown on TV and a snuff film? Further, white supremacy often displays hyper-masculinity, often most of the time as being homophobic, yet, Zed and Maynard’s closeted homosexuality is expunged through their violence. Their very acts seems to mean that besides being hypocrites (and rapists), that supremacy poses as one thing, denying certain elements, but deeply desires what is rejects on the surface.

Butch and Marsellus are in the same dilemma but Marsellus suffers because of his identity, and instead Butch chooses not to save himself, in which the opportunity to save himself was afforded by his privilege. This is like white protestors or activists assisting African Americans, Hispanics, etc., in standing up against the embedded underlying domination of the USA. For our world, white supremacy sustains itself because of pure selfishness. The “silent majority”, code word for the white majority, sees racial dynamics simply as such. They see it as teams acquiring points of injustice to justify acquiring power or equity. However, they claim this is what minorities are obsessed with, but minorities did not make this game. While the right-wing lambast the left or progressives or liberal democrats for playing what they perceive to be “identity politics” or the “victim Olympics”, ironically, they are the main purveyors of these concepts – they just have a different strategy for playing it.

Scene from Django Unchained
Maynard watching the assault

If Butch left the Pawn Shop leaving Marsellus he would have been no different than Zed. Butch’s actions would have been no different than the “silent majority’s” safe cozy nostalgia-ridden middle class existence, which might not associate with the KKK or Neo Nazis but their indifference to these groups enables these groups by reducing the severity of their actions, or even if acknowledging them, they are quick to normalize things thereafter without any systemic fixes. The reason this happens is because this “white proletariat and bourgeoisie class” subconsciously do fear losing the economic benefits and the iconography of supremacy.

In conclusion, the pawn shop scene of Pulp Fiction is analogous to the USA (nostalgia, capitalism, etc.) in which Maynard represents white supremacy (adorning his shop with a Confederate Flag) holding onto the dying dream of capitalism, and both he and Zed, represent white supremacy’s attempt to hold onto that power by exerting the most humiliating of acts onto a person of color (e.g., Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd as he called for his mother, is similar to Zed’s rape of Marsellus), yet, Butch (Bruce Willis) whom was spared temporarily because of his privilege as a white man, used his privilege to save Marsellus in the end instead of walking away, i.e., refusing to be indifferent like the “silent majority” or gimps of our actual reality. The pawn shop in Pulp Fiction is where capitalism, white supremacy, fascism, Darwinism, and power all collide to create a horror analogous to that which underlies our surface in the real world. By killing the Gimp, which is symbolic of those who comply with the authority of supremacy, and later killing Maynard who sees himself as a level above the Gimp but subservient to Zed, Butch is similar to non-black BLM protestors in our reality who disregarded their privilege to save the humanity of others despite their external differences. The fact that Maynard and Zed are hyper-real representations of white supremacy holding onto their fading sense of power, thus overcompensating with their depravity, makes me reflect on the quote by DeLillo (1987) which states:

“Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It´s a settling of grievances between the present and the past. The more powerful the nostalgia, the closer you come to violence.”

#film #toolband #pscyhology #pscyhoanalysis