The problem with media revolutions is that we too easily lose sight of what it is that’s truly revolutionary. By focusing on the shiny new toys and ignoring the human empowerment potentiated by these new media — the political and social capabilities they are retrieving — we end up surrendering them to the powers that be. Then we and our new inventions become mere instruments for some other agenda.
Social phenomena of all sorts undergo this process of hollowing. When punk rockers reduce their understanding of their movement to the right to wear Mohawks or pierce their faces, it’s easy for them to lose touch with the more significant anti-authoritarian ideology of DIY, direct action, and never selling out. Instead, punk becomes just another fashion trend to be sold at the mall. When ravers understand their movement as the right to take drugs and dance all night, they lose sight of the deeper political potentials unleashed by reclaiming public space or separating recreation from profit. Rave becomes just another genre for industry to sell. The styles of these movements were co-opted, and the essential shifts in power on which they were based were left behind.
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