Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Levi's Das Rheingold

And over, or from within, this candied Wagner, Capital, using the voice of a little girl, like Scout, Linda, or Addie but all innocence and simplicity, and with a hint of post-apocalypticism, says:

Maybe the world breaks on purpose, so we can have work to do.


  1. Maybe some people break the world on purpose so they can make money out of "fixing " it.

  2. I look at this and imagine all the different music they experimented with to these visuals and this text, and I think only this wagner gives this mood, of the mythic whole where what people do and what "the world" does is one, where what you say would not be painfully obvious. I find the use of this music especially creepy here, harmonious with the nationalist text (and isn't there a faint suggestion that this narrator is speaking of a past, like she is the feral child who takes up with mad max? or just to reassure that this depression too will be a bygone era, of nostalgia, soon enough?) ...Isn't it also interesting how bodily the voice is made, with the sounds of breath, saliva, tongue, a very embodied voice, as if recorded somewhere other than a studio. But all this is piled atop this acknbowledgement - what you note. It is as if it cannot simply ignore this; the ads as propaganda cannot simply ignore what is on people's minds -what we know; it has to mine it and transform it and vend it back.

  3. i shouldn't zay "cannot" - that's propaganda too, the propagandistic aspect of hermenuetics. It doesn't ignore it - it does this. It could ignore us and what we know, our history and our awareness of it, but expropriating and transforming is better for the purpose.

  4. Thick symbolism. "We were taught how the pioneers went into the West ... ."

    Braddock the town on the site where Braddock the general with his troops crossed the Monongahela to attack Fort Duquesne and entered a devestating ambush by the French and Indians.

    And Braddock the town the site of Carnegie steel mills.

    So thank you Gen Braddock for the massacre and thank you Carnegie for shutting down.

    And thank you Levi's for moving production to low-wage sites.

    Without you, we'd be sitting around on our hands.

  5. Okay, maybe I'm letting the word "qlipoth" make me hyper-referential...but the idea of the world breaking in order to be fixed ain't so far from the notion of "tikkun." (Also, the first image in the video is of sparks rising...which is a frequent image in Lurianic kabbalah....) Again, I may be seeing what isn't there, but this kabbalah jive would be yet another (and now sort of hipster, oddly enough...) way of reinforcing the idea of various, alienated, souls joining a mythic whole..."going forth" on a journey that once was geographical...i.e.: the pioneers heading out West...but now is "spiritual" by looking "within" and finding new paradises (which we will break and pillage, too, in turn, I guess)...and the first step in this great journey is taken by...going to the mall and buying jeans, of course. Could these ad cats be that savvy? Is this really be a mash-up of Wagner/Whitman/Terrence Malick/Judaic mysticism/San Francisco gold miners/manifest destiny/without-ever-mentioning-of-course-the-genocide-of-the-Native-American-population? I don't know. And does it matter if it is? And does it matter if I know? I don't know. But I do know the ad worked very, very well in one essential way: I am thinking about pants.

  6. "but the idea of the world breaking in order to be fixed ain't so far from the notion of "tikkun.""

    I thought this too - it's a bit of the madonna kabbalah centre version tikkun here, everything for the best, everything a learning experience, everything for us (the world breaks so we can fix it, not quite the lurianic emphasis)...certainly though something with inserting that four leaf clover or rose into the repaired stained class window, very tikkunish by way of davinci code.

    thanks chuckie, didn't connect with the french and indian/7 years war; really is a layered thing here,

  7. " Could these ad cats be that savvy?"

    Sure! where do all the humanities grads work but in that industry? and the kabbalah vocab is vaguely known now because of the kabbalah centre - those people are everywhere. every creative media office in NY or LA has a few kabbalah centre members in it now. and this is their twist on tikkun, that it's all about their own (individual) growth, their journey, their wellness-wholeness....

  8. "I am thinking about pants."

    yes and i always loved levis and they are not going anything to put me off, no matter how icky. it's not making me not love them anymore.

    years ago levis 501s: "you can trade them for a car in Prague"

    the see saw of jeans - levis, then designer (started in the 80s, calvins) then back to classic levis, then back to designer...

    what's odd is that the cycle seems to have gotten out of sync with couture...

    still interesting how easily Levi's reads as a very ignratiating nationalist american symbol, the symbol of "Amaericanism" as "universalism" (youth, can-do, unpretentiousness, innocence, individualism "worldover").

  9. "Could these ad cats be that savvy?"

    A silly question. Of course they are. I agree.

    And when I buy jeans, I buy:


    those innocent,

    those unpretentious,


  10. Levi's also made a serious effort to maintain domestic garment assembly and comparatively decent wages for the women who sewed the jeans. But of course the competitive logic of global supply chains and market segmentation dowsed that strategy. So the ad joins us at heart to the Levi's that knows the hurt of and loss when the 'world' 'breaks.' Levi's too only did the hard, creative work of fixing the world. By dumping Mexican-American women and moving offshore.

  11. Yeah, the "just folks" in the ad are exclusively doing "good works" in Braddock...fixing up churches and so forth...but they seem blessedly free of the encumbrance of employment. What "we" (Americans, including a few black people, even, evidently...) do is perfect our spiritual selves. What other people do is...well...make our costumes for us.