Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Joy Transition. Consensual Fun in la Movida's Madriz Magazine

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Joy Transition. Consensual Fun in la Movida's Madriz Magazine

Article excerpt

'Están ellos encantados consigo mismos, se les hace la boca agua, los ojos se les licuan en miradas melifluas que apenas rozan la superficie de la realidad que les rodea. Más que encararse con la vida parece que la lamen con pulido lengüetazo'. These words echo the sentiments of young people during La Movida, an underground cultural phenomenon that took place in Madrid during the late 1970s and early 1980s - the years of the Spanish transition from the dictatorship of Francisco Franco to democracy. More accurately, this is the characterization of La Movida youth, as described in the editorial opening the ninth issue of Madriz (September/October 1984), one of the most prominent of La Movida's magazines. Such a portrait - shallow individuals, only concerned with self-enjoyment, and uninterested in any aspect of social reality beyond the equally shallow relations among them - actually corresponds to the purportedly apolitical nature that most La Movida artists and some critics attribute to La Movida.

In fact, La Movida's vibrant cultural atmosphere was an expression of the extended feeling of desencanto with the way the political transition to democracy was being carried out. As Germán Labrador Méndez explains, the initial stage of euphoria after Franco's death was followed by a collective distancing from any common project and a lack of trust in politics as a productive means of social transformation. This situation 'induce a los productores simbólicos a imaginar planes alternativos de transformación, proyectos de evasión de la realidad, articulaciones de formas de existencia latentes' (Labrador Méndez 2009: 372). As the most successful of these escape projects, La Movida would be inherently anti-political or, at least, apolitical. However, the fact that La Movida emerged from an experience of political disillusionment already speaks of its political character.

In this sense, Jorge Marí notes that even those La Movida participants and commentators who reject its political or ideological dimension articulate their rejection through markedly politicized and ideological language. Marí concludes that the debates around La Movida's intrinsic political, apolitical or para-political character or tendency are therefore irrelevant. In turn, he proposes to consider La Movida 'como uno de aquellos espacios de debate cultural en torno a los que posiciones ideológicas, intereses, deseos y ansiedades colectivas confluyen, se articulan y negocian' (Marí 2009: 129) and to study 'cómo dicho término [La Movida] se ha invocado, instrumentalizado, reinventado y utilizado por parte de una multitud de discursos críticos, políticos y mediáticos desde los años 80 hasta hoy mismo' (Marí 2009: 139). He reviews three kinds of discourses: first, the celebratory ones, which take La Movida as a symbol of the freedom enjoyed throughout the democratic period; second, the nostalgic discourses that long for a purported golden age of freedom and creativity, of which La Movida would constitute a landmark expression; finally, the critical discourses which take La Movida as a synecdoche of the trivialization of Spanish culture in the last decades.

The discourses analysed by Marí approach La Movida from the outside - either from a commentator standpoint or by artists speaking from a nostalgic or self-vindicating future. However, as Luis García-Torvisco has pointed out, La Movida acquired a discursive identity along with a marked meta-reflective character from the moment it was identified and labelled 'como un movimiento relativamente unificado y lineal, susceptible de ser publicitado, comprado, vendido y estudiado' (García-Torvisco 2012: 369-40). That moment coincides with the beginning of what Susan Larson identifies as La Movida's second stage. Beginning in 1982 after its initial underground years, La Movida would make the transition to mainstream culture. According to Susan Larson, much of this resulted from 'the creation of new commercial channels such as new galleries, record labels, a provocative cinematographic style, and fashion that was modern and unique to Spain', as well as from the massive support La Movida acts and artists received from public authorities (Larson 2003: 309). …

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