As raised fist images are used over more decades and with a broader variety of political meanings, the attentive viewer notices this icon used for advertising and marketing purposes that may seem to dilute or complicate the original political intentions for which this image is often used. Millenial media is not the first time in which this image has been repurposed. After a short two decades of early radical and iconic use in the socialist press, State propaganda posters during WWI used raised fists to inspire the purchase of war bonds, hardly a people- or labor-powered agenda.
Jumping ahead to this century, there’s a parallel instance occurring. Raised fists are digitally reproducing at an enormous rate, and there are more and more non-political and clearly capitalist uses of the raised fist happening in visual culture via branding.
I have problems with this criticism on several levels. One, it sounds a lot like “There goes the neighborhood,” which is a lazy way of not articulating an issue or problem one has with changes to The Way Things Have Been.
Second, making the assumption that any use by any form of market/capitalism/advertising/et al. must symbolically carry more weight than the thousands of times this image has been used beforehand quite simply gives a lot of power to capitalism – power which this image intrinsically and intentionally refutes.
All that said, some of the market uses of the raised fist range from hilarious to heartbreaking. Please don’t sell me a pay-as-you-go cell phone because it will “revolutionize” my life . It’s a phone, it will let me make calls and send texts and waste time on the internet. Please don’t try to persuade me that on-the-go snacking is a radical act of personal empowerment, or a that there are demands that “revolution is at hand. It is a peaceful one – a hungry one. ” Fucking everyone likes snacks, some people are busy, and it’s not that deep. Also, vegetarians.
Is it annoying and disingenuous that marketing and advertising firms are using an image with 100 years of deeply anti-capitalist values embedded in its meaning? Yes. Does that RUIN THE IMAGE FOR EVERYONE ELSE FOREVER? Of course not. That’s why people who don’t orient their lives to consumer culture are still using it.