Monday, July 15, 2002

No Logo

I've recently been reading No Logo, by Naomi Klein. (I'm taking a little break from the Bible, as some of my friends have expressed concerns that I'm in danger of getting religion.) It's really good, though having read through the first half I'm beginning to feel that either Klein's prose or my attention span is beginning to wander. Her broad theme is the growth of the branding industry and its implications for (generally) Western culture in the large (and also its effects vis-à-vis globalization and world economics). I found several passages good enough to quote, for example this one:

...More indifference has met Apple Computer's appropriation of Gandhi for their "Think Different" campaign, and Che Guevara's reincarnation as the logo for Revolution Cola... and as the mascot of the upscale London cigar lounge, Che. Why? Because not one of the movements being "co-opted" expressed itself primarily through style and attitude. And so style co-optation--and indeed any outside-the-box brainstorming on Madison Avenue--does not have the power to undo them either... It may seem cold comfort, but... it's worth remembering that extreme sports are not revolution and rock, despite its histrionic claims to the contrary, is not revolution.

I especially appreciate Klein's acknowledgement of rock's histrionics, a topic that Thomas Frank's Baffler has covered in some depth.

In fact, there seems to be much in the book that owes an indirect debt to other cultural critics I've read, and though Klein's research seems to be meticulous and the book is very well-footnoted, the index is sadly lacking. Frank and the Baffler were referenced in the first several chapters, for instance, but neither appears in the index. I suppose that I could read the very fact that I raise this objection as an indication of ever-encroaching OCD and Comic Store Guy Syndrome. More on No Logo to come; the book has actually got me pretty excited about its content, so my quibbles about its formal aspects are secondary for once.