Tuesday 23 December 2008
by: Mario Roy, La Presse Date
"The Turkish producer of the star pair of shoes, the firm Baydan Ayakkabicilik San. & Tic., is crumbling under the volume of orders (300,000 in seven days) for its model 271, renamed the 'Bye Bye Bush.'" (Photo: AFP)
The acceleration of time is one of the characteristics of this millennium's début. Knowing that, one is still knocked out by how quickly the (six second long!) clip of the shoe being thrown at George W. Bush has entered business culture and the media market of the "Rebel Sell" - to cite the title of Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter's brilliant essay on the commodification of "rebel" gestures for profit.
The event occurred in Baghdad nine days ago: During a press conference, an Arab television station journalist threw two shoes at the American president.
Since then, several entrepreneurs have made a fortune by investing in the affair. The video clip and its derivative products have garnered tens of millions of web "hits." The six seconds that brought glory to Al-Bagdadia's correspondent supplied the raw material for numerous anti-Bush demonstrations just about everywhere in the world.
To understand this smoking blow, one must first remind oneself that its political significance is nil.
Bush is, in fact, already warehoused in history's storeroom, forever removed from the equation. The whole world hates him - with reason. In particular the Iraqis, who may rightly plead that the regime change imposed on them caused them horrible suffering ... even though, they are doubtless aware that in the good old days of Saddam, no one would have dared to dream of throwing his footwear at the dictator's head!
So, let's have a look at the true nature of the phenomenon.
The Turkish producer of the star pair of shoes, the firm Baydan Ayakkabicilik San. & Tic., is crumbling under the volume of orders (300,000 in seven days) for its model 271, renamed the "Bye Bye Bush." The firm has hired consultants to stage an advertising campaign targeting consumers in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt.
Without even mentioning conventional television, the video clip of the shoe throw has been seen 12 million times on the web, becoming Number One on the Viral Video Chart hit parade.
Numerous interactive video games consisting of throwing a shoe at George W. Bush have appeared on the web. Bush Game has allowed internet users to throw 50 million pair of shoes. At the moment you are reading these lines, "Sock and Awe" will be up to 51 or 52 million! After only four days on line, Sockandawe.com has, moreover, been purchased by the British firm, Fubra Limited.
Finally, as I mentioned, the event has relaunched the moribund (because it is so archaic - like the Detroit Big Three's cars) product of the anti-Bush demonstration. From that perspective, one of the clearest successes was scored in Montréal, where one will have noted the presence of Québec's Parliamentary wing, in all-out solidarity.
In this period of economic crisis, this is all very welcome.
Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.