I'll present some more highlights from the interview with Cintia, especially those parts that relate directly to our question of youth culture, popular culture, and politics. Before doing so, however, you might find it interesting that Cintia is a big fan of Bob Dylan. Also, she never watched Y tu mama tambien, but wants to now. She is going to send us her thoughts on the film.
As for her thoughts on the general questions raised at the end of these two articles, she continued to compare the 60's and now. She fears that then and even sometimes now activists can sometimes get boxed in by ideology. As young person who has studied the 60's, she thinks that perhaps people started to connect everything in their lives a bit too tightly to ideology then, including music, and she made the point that perhaps there is something about being young that lends itself to an all-consuming ideology. She explained the "boxed in" point further by arguing that it can cause people to become disconnected from reality, mistaking strict ideological models of the world for reality.
"Things are always more complex than they appear," she noted. Cintia went on to suggest that perhaps this causes some political activists to become unable to meaningfully communicate with others. She also worries that it can alienate other activists that don't fit the strict ideology or model. "Everything gets reduced to struggles between 'good' and 'evil'," she explained, referring to some political beliefs as "Manicean."
By the way, I should note that at no point was Cintia referring to specific movements, people, or moments in the 60's. She was responding to my question regarding comparisons between then and now in general.
Cintia asked some very interesting rhetorical questions, such as, "Who are the Mexican people? The workers? Students? Those who live in rich neighborhoods? The poor?
She then turned to the changing modes of communication and organization, especially internet activism. She noted that relatively few youth organize in the streets, protest, and hold public discussions. She feels that part of the reason is the internet. "The internet brings with it other forms of organization."
She did not leave it at that, however. She noted that while there are non-virtual effects, perhaps even the election of Obama, there are two very big problems with internet activism in Mexico:
1) In most ways the discussion is "circular", virtual and contained purely on the internet.
2) Only a small percentage of Mexicans have meaningful internet access.
For these reasons, "the potential to make a change with the internet is minimal," Cintia believes, leaving her "a little pessimistic" and wondering "what is the third way?"
She went on to explain more why the old political modes don't appear to be viable any more, and argues that those ways of doing politics are "exhausted."
Cintia argues that most Mexican youth are disinterested in politics, yet most who do have that interest seem somewhat disconnected in the ways she explained above. The following example is very interesting:
"There are young people who put on bandanas with the image of Che Guevara who know nothing more than, 'It's Che!' ...And who is Che? What did he do? How is he pertinent? It's a style, an archetype, a stereotype, and that's it."
Regarding the popular arts, Cintinia feels that they were more connected to politics in the past, with political songs becoming hymns for entire generations of activists. (Side note, there are numerous placards referencing music in the '68 exhibit, including lots of American musicians).
She had these interesting insights about art and politics today:
"I think that in Mexico the arts, the creative part and politics continue becoming more and more separated. Or (in other cases), dangerously united, where art follows power. There aren't examples where music, a song, or videos, or anything in the creative world has radically impacted the political world. But, perhaps the reverse is true, something political that impacts art, there is that."
Cintia gave the examples of immigration and also the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. She argues that art has not effected either, but that those issues have been reflected in art.
As for the dangerous links where "art follows power," she talked about government sponsorship of conservative, nationalistic artworks, films, etc. for the purposes of celebrating the upcoming bicentennial (200 years of Mexican independence from Spain) and similar government sponsored art.
Finally, this is perhaps the most interesting of all, a claim that youth are more interested with being part of "the world" than what is happening locally or even nationally:
"Today youth are fascinated with being part of the world, being in the world. Certainly we have our eyes 'out there' more than on one's immediate surroundings. They have lost interest in what is happening in the corner of their house or what's happening in their country."