Take the Carnival to Revolution

Listening to The Beatles studio sessions, as they played around with warping sounds whilst playing 'Revolution', I found my mind connecting  to contemporary examples of carnivalesque versions that shake-up the status quo.  We need these. The more that people who have agendas of greed, control and power try and control structures that are culturally embedded and manifest through art, the more that there is a reaction against that.  Even in seemingly frivolous and ridiculous inventions such as The Harlem Shake that has quickly become a viral meme, there are highly defined structures that are shaken up in a carnivalesque fashion.  Even though I am not a big fan of this meme, it seems to be such a global phenomenon it seems apt to take it as an example. In my opinion, some of the most interesting of these are in institutions that are usually subject to rigid rules, such as the National Ballet or in an army or in a school or at university in a particularly strict department. 

However, surely these outbreaks of revolution can go further, instead of them just being cultural memes that become viral through the www landscape, surely they can be taken into our daily lives. My grandfather was an expert at turning restrict regimes on their head through ridicule, satire and humour through his stand up comedy, songs and endless stories as Pearly King of Leicester entertaining with the Lambeth Walk. 
This picture is of the Pearlies in the 1920`s at a jovial collaborative event with the hospital nurses and interns, a Rabelais type carnival sets the scene.  This jubilee helped to rally the enthusiasm of a fundamentally sombre event that was to raise money for hospital beds for the poor.  This is indicative, towards the kinds of carnivalesque charity events such as comic relief that urges people to do  ‘something funny for money’.  In previous years it had ‘hairdos’ from contemporary media mocking 'idolation' of celebrity that seems to be pervasive in British contemporary society.  Comic Relief ridiculed with ‘the Britney’, ‘the Becks’ hairdos.  Just as the Pearlies utilised stereotypes such as 'The Indians', 'Buffalo Bills', 'Sailors' and 'Jockeys', types from late Nineteenth century world fairs that were often very culturally relative.  In these world fairs they were fixing people into roles, cultural and national types as seen from an ethnocentric perspective.  The Pearlies through their charity events as pictured above mocked this fixing of type and ridiculed them for what they were, but whilst at the same time raising money to help those that were being oppressed by these very structures of domination and control. These emblematic meanings represent central aspects of the ‘charitable experience’, to the participants for the purpose and function of that experience.  From this, it may be possible to infer the socio-cultural function of charitable experience and indeed the changing power structures within society. 
    The Harlem Shake, unfortunately has not been transferred into a way to raise funds or charity events.  Perhaps the army could do a Harlem Shake that could raise funds for medicine and doctors in Syria.  Police could do a Harlem Shake in the middle of private banks in Wall Street and raise money for the homeless.  Or the National Ballet could raise funds through their Harlem Shake events for young dancers who can`t afford to pay for dance classes and need projects such as these parallel performance workshops to give them an opportunity to get exposure to the life of professional dancers.  Perhaps Apple HQ could Harlem Shake their way around the world raising funds for kids to use their ipads for projects such as Tagtool that encourages collaboration with technology not isolation.
    One of my favourite periods from David Hockney is that in the late nineties, when he depicted the North of England. So often represented as full of grime, riots or as a hopeless place through stereotyping, he painted bright, colourful and almost humourous landscapes full of life. He depicted this often "off the map" part of the country to be full of sweeping lush and green hills, historical buildings and warm houses sheltering vibrant people.  This was the North of England that I knew and loved.  He went past the dismal representations that persisted in the media to a colourful place no longer discarded to the heap of forgotten lands, "somewhere up there".

David Hockney Road to Sledmere 1997

  We´re very sophisticated in shaking up cultural norms and structures in the online space and through art and yet repressive structures in offline mode and daily life persist.  Do we forget once we disconnect? Or do we think that by creating a revolutionary space online or through our cultural products as The Beatles did, that through osmosis this will transfer into our daily lives.  In the time of The Beatles it did.  To such a point where those that were part of the wave, were convinced that revolutionary times were upon us.  However, reading our history books, as in many periods of seeming revolution, quite the opposite happened, Thatcher, Regan, years of repression that we are still suffering badly from.  Yes, be carnivalesque, Harlem Shake up those structures and shatter the illusions of power and greed, but take it further.  See how much revolutionary power we can create through music, dance, art, and online, that kind of global shake up is what is needed but not for the sake of humour and satire for the sake of a few laughs, but to transform the very dominating structures that is keeping us isolated, silent, docile and against each other instead of for and with each other, beyond a silent revolution.