Che Sucks

Sticker (see below) of iconic Argentine (or is Argentinian?) political activist and Cuba-revolutionary figure Che Guevara. The surface  message here is that Che “Sucks.”

But what’s not clear is whether it’s Che the person who sucks. Or rather if what “sucks” is the over-usage of the image, that is, its co-opting and commercialization and many references in sub- and popular culture (at least since the 1990’s). Or both.

The image in its crassest forms opens the way to some cognitive dissonance to anyone familiar with the historical significance of Che, depending perhaps on one’s politics and the context of the image.

However, the image has become a kind of visual short-hand for rebellion, “fighting the power,” and anti-authoritarianism, etc. Its currency as a signifier for in-the-know hipsters well over decade ago (that is, for a while in the ’90’s). This is was perhaps in part due to Che’s relative obscurity for a younger generation, and his symbolic bona fides as something genuine, authentic, a true figure of an earnest activism.

Eventually he was hitched to the larger political philosophy of an earlier generation. That philosophy was so contrary to the prevailing generational zeitgeist of the post-Cold War, post-Soviet, post-Communism era and the global shift toward western capitalism. Oh, we could go on. But we’ll stop. Hey, cool image.