Made in Bangladesh

Over at The Aerogram there is a post, Made in Bangladesh, which is addressed to the young woman who posed topless in the American Apparel advertisement. I’m rather ambivalent about the whole thing. American Apparel knows how to get publicity, and sells clothes with ads which make Abercrombie & Fitch seem a little less on the pornish side. Additionally, the whole virtue of being made-in-America doesn’t hold much appeal for me when put next to the fact that the textile industry has reshaped the economic possibilities of the less well off female population of Bangladesh.

On the the other hand I found Taz Ahmed’s style to be condescending and self-congratulatory. Perhaps more important the interpretative framework of radical Left politics and Critical Race Theory is so thick and cloying  that the simple and spare critique is almost suffocated by nods to nearly every trope in this mode of analysis. There’s the weird contradiction of celebrating free choice and individual freedom, and then totally removing all agency from the subject of critique, and making implicit accusations of false consciousness. Many of the commenters, who seem to be mostly Bangladeshi, did not react positively to this style of delivery (see this post at Medium).

I think the commenters were a little too harsh, and as uncharitable to her as Taz was being to the model in the advert. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that of thinking about the economic ramifications of the textile industry and trade, the post made to consider how Cultural Marxism can make anyone seem like a smug narcissist to all those outside of the small core audience of fellow travelers who are also marinated in their private lexicon.