Carlos Monsivais starts his new book, Apocalipstick, with the following (my quick translation):
The inhabitants of planet Earth are to be informed of the following: due to global climate change, very soon the countdown will begin and humans will enter into their terminal phase. Fortunately, because of the difficulties of burning a territory this large and overpopulated there is time remaining to take advantage of the current offers of the season. It is never too late to make a smart purchase. Keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, bargain basement prices can buy you this new aerodynamic lipstick that modifies its color according to the time of day; and, of course, it transforms those who use it. Do not lose out of this final offer for this and all times!
You get a sense of Monsivais' writing style and perspective. It also shows that Podalski's use of Monsivais as the traditional Left critic of youth films and (lack of) movements might be somewhat misplaced. Monsivais has been the continual joker of the '68 generation. He ran a college radio show during that movement that, even then, managed to maintain a sense of humor. Here is a photo of Monsivais then and now, from the '68 Memorial:
Apocalipstick shows both a skeptical eye at current politics as well as past, and a healthy respect for history. Monsivais recognizes that life is what happens while we are making other plans, including the grand designs of political movements. However, he has not used that to stop him from doing good work. He is a good example of Gramsci's "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will."
As for his take on contemporary youth culture, popular culture, and politics. One place to look is his current exhibit at the Museo del Estanquillo (Museum of the Corner Store).
It is a history of Mexican movements, starting with the movement for independence. Part of the message seems to be that there is a constant dialectic between power and various types of resistance that coalesce at certain times to create new societies and, eventually, new regimes of power (that become the new problem). It is partly a story of human advance, the Western trope, but more so the recognition that the struggle for better collective lives, institutions, and structures is constant, that outcomes are never completely satisfying, and that with positive advances often come a number of new problems as well. And so, we have more starving people on Earth than ever, but at least in some contexts there is more freedom of individual and collective expression (often paid for by others, such as the women of color who assemble most of our products in Export Processing Zones). However, even that would be too simplistic for Monsivais.
His description of recent movements is extremely germane. Rather than denigrate them in the exhibit as one might expect from the quote in Podalsky, he emphasizes the recent successes of the feminist movement, environmental movements, and something that is very germane to contemporary Mexico City: the rights of "sexual minorities" (quote from the exhibit). Mexico City just became one of the first major cities to legalize gay marriage. It might be added that in a poll by Reuters taken for the International Day of Women (March 8), only 9% of Mexican respondents agreed with the statement: "A woman's place is in the home." That is compared to 25% of USA respondents. In other words, these movements have had an incredible impact. Often when people consider post-60's generations "apathetic," they are ignoring those incredible movements and gains.
Monsivais was particularly taken by a massive artwork project by USA photographer Spencer Tunick. Tunick had thousands of people pose naked in the Zocalo:
Monsivais sees such creative acts as equally or more important than the traditional protest rituals. On pages 406-408 of Acocalipstick he applauds a creative silent march that he argues is one of the "more rational" public demonstrations from the Left in many year. His analysis parallels Cintia's in the sense that many of the old methods seem "exhausted" (her quote). Yet, his exhibit might indicate that in circular fashion, large coalitional protest politics will come around again in some new form. There is certainly a bit of the conservative "end of history" ideology (a la George Bush Senior) in the argument that all of that is now over.
On one hand Monsivais' exhibit celebrates the movements for greater "diversity and tolerance" (quote), but on the other hand, in placing them in this historical context, one wonders what the next, future exhibit room would hold.
Placing new movements in that context can reduce new movements to part of a grand narrative. In other words, such context and comparison can both illuminate the new, but can also cause us to fail to see what is truly new and promising.
Regardless, it is fair to say that Monsivais' point of view probably resonates with Cintia's more than one might imagine from the quote in Podalsky. However, like Cintia's when she discussed the current limits of the internet, he has a strong dash of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death thesis. His last clause of a paragraph-long sentence lauding and lambasting recent changes in Mexico City (p.30): "The street, the spectacle that competes gloriously, but in vane, against television."
Later he asks, "Who leads a demographic explosion?" (p.405) explaining apparent apathy and disillusion as a response to the chaos of out-of-control growth.
But, of course, even the amusing ourselves to death thesis is incorporated. Telehit, an MTV style music video channel in Mexico (although this one actually plays videos) shows short segue promos that include a machine harvesting eyeballs from a tree for an animated TV and another with the slogan: "Telehit is your entertainment prison." Once again, a nod and a wink to we "critical viewers," a recognition that we are all supposedly in on the joke. Of course, if everyone is in on it, then no one is effectively outside of it. Kashmir's music video for "Surfing the Warm Industry" comes to mind.
I'll end it there, with a recommendation to read Apocalipstick and past work by Carlos Monsivais.