If you look at the most popular Pornhub movies in North America, you don’t have to scroll very far before you see a “BLACKED” production.
It’s not hard to see why either. Take one well lubricated white slut, add two parts NFL running back (black, naturally), a sprinkle of plot line involving an unappreciative white boyfriend, a dash of empty mansion, and voila! a potent BBC cocktail that’s vastly more engaging than the identically-acronymed British Broadcasting Corporation or Billionaire Boys Club could ever hope to be. It’s stiff competition, to be sure.
But what is it about “BLACKED” that taps into such a broad subconsciousness ? What is it about the inversion of the historical master-slave dynamic that we find so sexually intoxicating ?
Part of it, as this window into our private lives reveals,i is that we love stories that follow the Jungian archetype of transgressed –> transformed. These redemptive journeys appeal to our (frequently latent but nonetheless fundamentally existent) optimistic natures, which is really what sex/life is all about : joy and creation.ii
What would be the ideal education to prepare anyone to produce in today’s society: fake news, the rise of influencers, the waning of Western culture, a kind of unprecedented amalgamation of anything goes/nothing works? Whatever the eventual discipline, the field of structural engineering provides perhaps our most direct confrontation with reality today, encompassing the phenomena hardest to identify in our current culture: a permanent engagement with “eternal” issues sues as gravity, profound knowledge of materials, old and new methods of calculation. Engineering = calculating.
The second layer of this education – ideally laminated to engineering – might be architecture: the long-term systematic implementation of highly complex fantasies. For a long time, those “fantasies” have been strictly focused on building. But recently, the irritating irrelevance of much construction has given architecture an alibi to enter into territories to which it has not been invited. The combination of these two gives Abloh an almost mythical equipment – calculation, patience, method – delivered at the unique moment fo the breakup of borders around professions that were once isolated and are now protecting their invasion by a generation of self-declared wunderkinds amplified by self-organized social media.
As Rem alludes to, Virgil is the definitive bridge between the humble wisdom of the ancients and the self-aggrandising arrogance of the kids, between formerly oppressive systems and recently redeemed slaves. Virgil performs the role of Neo – the Christlike figure – the embodiment and projection of the western world’s hopes and fears, complete with its desegregated future and tarnished legacy. He’s at once unabashedly positive and unfailingly optimistic, but he’s also ebony as fuck and he just doesn’t quit. Like the Energizer bunny, or the “BLACKED” heroes, Virgil just keeps going and going and going…
We might fear for the Africanisation of our protestant-puritanical western society, but Virgil shows us just how calm, cheerful, and celebratory it will actually be. Contrary to our most deeply seeded concerns, we have “Moore” to look forward to and not quite so much to fear.
And I, for one, fucking love it.iv I’m not alone either. Not only is Virgil massively popular with Chinese dilettantes in Hongkouver, but he’s barged into the mainstream consciousness. Who else could cause multi-day camp-outs outside of “IKEA” for a product launch ? Him and only him. He’s the fetish. He’s the object of our confusion and desire. As much loved as hated.v Though the hate mostly comes from the “true” cognoscenti in the fashion spacevi because he’s the dark-faced disruptor shining a light at their underbellies while at the same time shouting through a megaphone at the youth (and market) that absolutely adore him.
Virgil’s au courrant. He’s as referential as a hyperlink. And deferential to boot. He’s of our time. And he’s of our place, for as long as we expand the notion of “The Old Country” to encompass more than just Europe… There’s something undeniably sexy, and “switchy,” about the whole thing.
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UPDATE 10/02/2020 : Virge is ridin’ a waaaave in this interview with duct-tape-banana-man Maurizio Cattelan.
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- This window into our private lives is more richly explored by Seth Stephens‑Davidowitz in “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are Hardcover” (2017), which is one of the few contemporary books I can heartily recommend for a light, entertaining read. ↩
- In other words, sex is about optimism, both in the moment and for the future. To bring a life into this world, we have to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, or else we wouldn’t have children at all. No one willingly damns their progeny to a life of fruitless suffering, which is why birthrates are a sort of a marker for optimism about the future. ↩
- Rem Koolhaas was a trained journalist before he became an architect. Now a Pritzker Prize winner, he’s not only built a world-class practise – designing such buildings as the Seattle Central Library and the CCTV HQ in Beijing – but he’s also shaped and developed the next generation. Bjarke Ingels, Zaha Hadid, and Winy Maas (MVRDV) all worked for him in their earlier years. ↩
- Do I wish for Virgil to fuck my wife like the white boy cucks do in “BLACKED” ? Au contraire. I see myself in Virgil’s iconoclasm. I see myself in that big black chram. As a “neurodiverse” wandering Jew living in a small Prairie town full of latent anti-semites (not that I’m blaming them, jealousy and scapegoating are pretty standard human behaviours really), I’ve always felt like an outsider too. Because of this, in my own way, I’ve always sought controversy over assimilation. I saw this as the only option. Assimilation was never on the table.
- Much like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, who although both white, are as reviled as lauded for the almost insulting (apparent!) simplicity of their artworks. Likewise with Virgil. ↩
- Why do the “true” (ie. “middle class“) cognoscenti hate Virgil ? Why do I like him ? To quote a recent IG convo between myself and Bliss Foster, a superb (and relatively straight) fashion YouTuber :
Bliss: Ayyyy what’s good. I usually try to hit people up right after they follow but I’m behind lately. Should I assume you found me thru YouTube ?
Bliss: Oh bet [hey]! What clothes have you been into lately?
Pete: Margiela and Off-White mostly. A few others sprinkled in but those two have captured my imagination the most fully. I’m just getting back into clothes after a 10 year hiatus. I used to looove Y-3, Pringle of Scotland, JL, RL Purple Label, and Prada Sport, but none of them really do it for me anymore. MM and OW seem to better encapsulate this moment in time for me. How about yourself ?
Bliss: Wow just noticed your feed is really pretty. That’s interesting you say those two brands specifically. Most people reeeeeeeeeeeeally don’t like OW. What draws you to them ? For the record, I love Virgil’s work.
Pete: OW/Virgil embody a few unique things: unwavering positivity, a refreshing lack of nostalgia, youthfulness, an interdisciplinary perspective rooted in architectural rigour, and the drive for iteration over perfection. As someone who works in manufacturing and with architects on a daily basis, I have great respect and admiration for the architectural process, but the other values are also in alignment with my personal preferences. I also like that OW resonates so completely with kids half my age (I’m 33) but not at all with those twice my age. It make me feel young at heart like little else. I’m also an avowed contrarian and I kinda like that the “true” cognoscenti turn their noses up at Virgil.
Bliss: Tbh I kinda want to shake those people and be like “This is the recipe for success! You’re the gatekeepers! You hate this wildly popular thing! This is what happened to Star Wars and Margiela and Fall Out Boy! Get on the right side of history while you still can!”
Pete: Haha exactly. Haters reek of envy and jealousy (though to be fair to the naysayers, history doesn’t pick sides)
Virgil also gets shit on for “stealing” “ideas,” because as the world’s most important artist and a black man he’s held to a different standard than everyone else. “Good artists copy, great artists steal” and “nihil fit ex nihilo” only apply to white artists, doubters would have you believe. ↩