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In 1960, Cuban photographer Alberto Korda Díaz
snapped a photo of Ernesto Che Guevara. Eight years later, the image exploded throughout Europe and Latin America, where it became a symbol of protest and dissent. Today, the photograph remains one of the most dominant icons of the twentieth century. CHEVOLUTION is a film about a single photograph, and how this portrait, with its enigmatic gaze, became a symbol of countless visions for change.
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The Che image is mesmerizing. He is amazingly sexy. But he was also a close comrade of Castro. A medical doctor, when he returned to Cuba he took up arms instead of medicine and murdered many. He said revolution cannot take place without love, but also believed guns and fighting and murder a part of it. The fact that the photographer who took the photo did not receive credit due to communist laws is insane. The image has become one of anyone who just thinks they are on the fringe. But whose fringe are you on? You can't work at Apple and think you are on the fringe. You can't save your stock options and fight for equality through socialism and anti-capitolism and wear a Che shirt unless you have some kind of large weapon under your desk and are planning to take over the government.
There doesn't seem to be a perfect form of government. There is always a rich and always a poor and always a huge divide between. Che's motives were seemingly good; to equalize this divide. But they were done by overthrowing a government with much loss of life and not much improvement. Violence, to me, is unforgivable. I am a pacifist, and have never worn or decorated with sexy Che because it is clear that the image has been taken about as far out of context as it could and to loosely quote a comrade of Che's in the movie, Che himself would either be sarcastically entertained or horrified if he were alive. Hippies, pacifists, angry youth and trustafarians were definitely not his target audience. And yet they eat him up with a silver fork, which he would probably use to murder their parents and their parents friends in an attempt to begin a take over of the country to equalize the rich and the poor. Or to probe them into joining his guerrilla movement, like old Patty Hurst in her Army Days.
I think it is the look in his eyes, which we read as, well, sexy and masculine (but turns out to be one of grief, horror, anger, and determination), his hair, the star. It was just a good moment for him. In the image he could be a lead singer of a band, a famous actor, but our people seem to have forgetten that he was a guerrilla revolutionary with strong beliefs that capitalism, which my friend enjoys deeply, and those who practice it, should be shot for not giving equal rights and equal resources to all people. If Fidel had a beautiful shot like that, would we worship him?
I guess this makes the person I know with the Che shirt is an idiot, in truth. You don't put your kids to bed in a Che shirt. You don't spend money at Sharper Image in a Che shirt. You don't put hearts and flowers around Che. He might have been a great man to some, and his ideals were understandable, but his methods were madness, and for that he died. Ask a Cuban National before you wear Che. Watch the movie and see that this image was, made by a fashion photographer, who cropped it out of context and found it used, due to communist laws, without his permission. Didn't, until recent law suits, make a penny without it.
Somehow I think my friend pictures Che in a mansion somewhere in South America, and old man drinking daiquiris with his beautiful young wife and smoking cigars and living the good life of an ex-revolutionary. Yes. It's that ridiculous.
Makes me angry enough to want to ask anyone I see wearing this image if they know the story behind what this man represented. I would guess that, in nearly 99.9% of cases, people think they are just wearing the face of a hero, like an astronaut or a rock star. Maybe a rebel without a cause, like James Dean or Curt Cobain.
It is simply more proof that Ignorance should be Painful. It should actually make your head hurt. Intelligence should make you high. And that saying, BTW, is mine. Copyright, 2009.