July 26, 2014

Horse 1722 - Why Is A Che Guevara Beanie A Thing?

During the winter in Sydney as temperatures head southwards and into single digits, the unofficial uniform scarves and to a lesser extent hats and beanies, comes and settles on the commuting population like some giant flock of woollen migratory birds.
As I write this on Tuesday morning¹, perched on some lady's head at Parramatta Station is a Che Guevara beanie.

I can understand that people like to clad themselves in things that they like to associate themselves with and things they like; I myself I have a wardrobe replete with various football kits and scarves²; I can understand say, a fan of One Direction or 5 Seconds Of Summer³, wanting the merchandise because the mentality in principle is identical. People are very tribal and this extends from our need to belong and to be validated.
Why then is this lady wearing a Che Guevara beanie? Why is a Che Guevara beanie a thing?

Gavrillo Princip is in some quarters of Serbia, regarded as something of a national hero. Princip was the chap who fired the shot that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and thanks to a weird "assassination of Archdukes" clause, started of the chain of events that tilted Europe to total war. Princip fired that shot because he resented yet another foreign power ruling over his country and he wanted to live in a land which was united for all Slavic peoples.
I suppose that the modern Serbs who see him as a hero, and in the light of a history which included Tito and a Yugoslavia which looked vastly different to how Princip might have imagined it, I guess I can sort of understand how Princip might be viewed as even noble in his actions.

Gavrillo Princip, Al Capone, Ned Kelly, Bonnie & Clyde, Captain Moonlight, Bluebeard... all of these people were criminals it must be said and yet there's something of a myth which surrounds them.
Napoleon and his armies marched across Europe and hacked apart six million people and yet even Napoleon is seen today by some as having leadership qualities that n be learnt from.
Wind the clock forward to the year 2245 or even 2345, two hundred years after the end of World War Two and I ask will people look back and see people like Hitler or Stalin as impressive?
We might recoil and be repulsed at the very suggestion of that thought but after everyone that was immediately affected has died, then what? Are we likely to see Hitler or Stalin beanies? Probably maybe... 
I mean I have a tie with former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly but unlike Che Guevara (even though they wore both different shades of red) the difference is that "he made the people happy".

How does an Argentine Marxist revolutionary who fought in the Cuban Revolution, which saw Fidel Castro installed as leader of a Communist dictator, which in turn led to poltical executions and a mass exodus of Cubans, become "cool" enough to put on a beanie?
I'm pretty sure that we've seen people dressed up as pirates for fun. I think that that probably has to do a lot with Gilbert and Sullivan's 1879 musical "The Pirates of Penzance". I have seen on the back window of peoples' cars, Ned Kelly's last words "such is life". Occasionally I've even seen stickers on cars (especially utes) of Ned in his makeshift upturned rubbish bin helmet and a couple of guns as well.
Maybe people just think that badness is cool?

Whatever the case, I don't think I'm going to understand why a Che Guevara beanie even exists. I do know that if I was in Che's marketing team, I would have argued for a higher cut on the image rights though.

¹this is the 22nd of July; so hello to everyone in the future.
²I'm currently wearing a Liverpool FC scarf as I scribble this. Most blog posts start out in an exercise book.
³this is where I insert a pop culture reference in a bathetic attempt to look "cool" and down with the kids, yo.

No comments: