Thursday, February 08, 2007

Martha Stewart, Communist

Yesterday morning I watched a little breakfast TV, something I rarely do. Usually I'm doing this, blogging, instead, which is why I'm writing about it a day later. Anyway, the TODAY show had a Martha Stewart segment in which she cheerfully described her easy method for making heart-shaped boxes for Valentine's day. "I love these boxes and I just never seem to be able to find them," she said.

The real appeal of watching Martha Stewart is not that you get helpful craft tips. The appeal is spotting where the impossible part is. In this case it's Martha's heart shape. "You can download a template from my website," she said airily. They even showed a printout. Which was, naturally, about 7 inches square, the width of almost all home printers. The boxes she was putting together with just a hot glue gun, some wavy-edge scissors, and a little love, looked to be about a foot wide.

The Martha Stewart media empire is built on a foundation of lies! With a border of pretty azaleas around the edge.

But the appeal of crafts today is growing. MAKE magazine grows ever more popular. In it are designs and ideas for all kinds of things that you would normally buy. You can make your own skateboard! You can mod your computer case! You can re-jigger that vintage 1960's hi-fi to accept an iPod! You can build your own guitar. Even an electric guitar!

And yes, some of this is an empowerment movement. You're tired of having to buy a guitar from someone else, or you want a guitar with features that no one puts on them, off the shelf. What it amounts to is, Make is putting the means of production into the hands of the people. Martha Stewart, Make, and all the others, provide the subversive thrill of anti-consumerism. Same with YouTube. DRM? Screw you NewsCorp, we're making our own goddam TV!

There is a rising trend here. Who knows how far it may go, but on some unconscious level people are protesting the G8 summit without leaving their homes. Choosing to make instead of buy takes money out of the pockets of rich white guys worldwide. And I'm warning you now, they'll find a way to strike back. Soon as they notice, anyway.

No comments: