"Is Raver J, EDM's 'Greta'?"
I thought I would approach this by introducing myself, the two of them, and then discuss the similarities and differences they share as Earth-activist superheroines.
For over a decade, in addition to my art here, I have been an Earth activist, and I've often harbored an "inner-Greta." Sometimes I let her out. Sometimes I am more diplomatic. Regardless, I have to admit that I initially loved her shaming because... Catharsis! I'm sure many other people I know, who have been part of the "fight," felt the same and issued either a verbal or silent, "Thank you, Greta."
I probably don't need to introduce Greta. Up to this point, I have assumed by first name alone you know exactly who I am talking about. In case you happen to be still wondering, I am referring to the teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Within the last year, she has exploded onto the world stage and was very recently given "Person of the Year" for 2019 by TIME magazine. She is not the only climate activist, though. We have fabulous young women and men globally showing up at important meetings ready to provide their viewpoint. To name a few, there is Aidan Gallagher from the U.S., Autumn Peltier from Canada, and Vanessa Ukate from Uganda.
It may seem strange or cocky to compare her to my fictional raver character, but they are both Earth-activist superheroines, and I'm a bit brazen.
So who is Raver J?
Here is how I've been describing her, "Raver J is a junior marketing VP who's always been driven by success. Her life vision—making it to the top of the transnational Koch Enterprises and enjoying the endless material luxuries and happiness afforded by the Consumerican Dream—is just within reach. But when she learns that the promotion she's worked so hard for is instead going to Victor, her ex-boyfriend and the CEO's nephew, her ladder of success splinters into kindling. In need of a distraction, she stumbles upon the illicit Democracity rave scene, where she uncovers an ancient prophecy and must make a choice: will she remain in complicity, living the life she knows as a corporate-climbing Koch jockey, or will she join a raveolution?"
HOW RAVER J IS SIMILAR TO GRETA
1) Both Greta and Raver J are movers
Both Greta and Raver J were moved. Different circumstances, same reasons. Neither of them could remain silent, still, complicit. Both make personal changes. They become catalyst change-agents who inspire others. In both circumstances, it leads to the creation of rebellion movements. Greta's is called Extinction Rebellion (XR), and Raver J's is an unnamed raveolution organized with her rave crew, the Technorati, against Consumerica and within Democracity.
2) Both use what they got
Greta and Raver J are similar in that they use whatever skills, influence, and platform that they have. Greta comes from a passionate and well-connected family, and she's using her circle of influence. Raver J, previous to her love-affair with rave culture, had been a corporate girl on the rise. Both Greta and Raver J use whatever skills and access they have to making a splashy spectacle that gets attention to shift the tide politically on climate action. Like Greta, she came at a time before an election. In RAVE: Mythophrenia, Raver J times her action to intentional swing an election. Although XR is political, Greta herself claims no political affiliation, which is also similar to Raver J. She did not choose a side out of spite or long-standing partisan commitments. Both Greta and Raver J (and her crew) want candidates, from their current perspective, that are most likely not to end the world.
3) Both call out consumerism
It may be fairly obvious in my book that I am making some critique about consumerism as Raver J's world is called "Consumerica". In the novel, I attempt to show Raver J's journey of self-realization concerning the global impacts of consumerism.
The quote below is from the XR website.
"The government irresponsibly promotes rampant consumerism and free-market fundamentalism,
and allows greenhouse gas emissions
Open Letter to The Guardian by XR.
4) Both speak their truth
Greta may always be remembered for her kinda-awesome scolding, as sampled by Fat Boy Slim. Though she has chosen* of late to hide frustrations and return to her straight-forward manner of speaking. This was evidenced by one of her most recent talks at COP25. My secret desire to scold is masked in playful, outer and inner dialogue surrounding climate and social justice issues within Raver J's story. Greta's, "Fairytales of endless economic growth", is something Raver J would agree with and would definitely say.
In RAVE: Mythoprhenia (Raver J's story), there is a plan that would exacerbate planetary pollution. Although Raver J said this, it could have easily have been Greta, "We cannot afford to have that happen. Not Democracity, not The Four Corners, neither this country, nor the entire world."
*I realize she receives coaching from guardians but it should also be noted that she does not have to follow their advice.
5) Both advocate for non-violence, and art-based demonstrations
I'm not sure how many superhero genre stories there are without violence but the story of Raver J, as told in her visual pre-quel comic, and followed up in literary form in the first of two novels RAVE: Mythophrenia, is one of them. This does not mean there is no confrontation, but it is the way Raver J and her raver crew handle the situation that is in line with the raver PLURR values (peace, love, unity, respect, and responsibility). Without spoiling the story, this is showcased in potential fight scenes and the spectacular debacle at the end. If Raver J and her raver crew had an organization open to the larger public, their ideas of how demonstrations would take place would be very similar to XR's policy which advocates for art-based and non-violent demonstrations.
As it says on the XR website, "performers are the lifeblood of the rebellion". So although it is doomsday in part by name, the other half of the name implies hope and a celebration of Life. If you haven't read Raver J's story yet, I'm sure you can imagine that anyone that has "Raver" in their name is surrounded by people who also like to celebrate living. Perhaps Great, too, likes to party. Although the demonstrations XR are holding look fun, and I agree with their policy of no illegal drugs or alcohol while on duty, I'm not sure Raver J's community could abide by that policy. And that's okay. If Raver J's world was "real", I think parties could also be effective motivators for future action.
HOW RAVER J IS DIFFERENT
1) They don't share the same experiences
Greta, as we know, is a teenager. Although never explicitly defined, you can think of Raver J somewhere in the age range of 22-24. When Raver J finds the Democracity rave scene, it had already existed for about a decade. It was just starting to thrive again after a having a major setback a few years into its initial boom from "The Rave Act". Raver J (aka Jivana) completed high school and college and has also been working in service of the world (that they both wish would transform significantly). Since Great is real to 3D and Raver J is questionably so, their experiences are different. Greta is out in the field at conferences while Raver J occupies the inner realms of inspiration and creativity. If I, the creatrix of Raver J who is influenced by my own character, counted then we could say that yes Raver J does work in this realm in addition to the astral landscape. The manifestation of actions that take form in this realm are still different as one operates in the public eye and globally while the other works behind the scenes and locally.
2) More than "just political"
XR is going big trying to focus its efforts for political change and not address personal change. And I get it. Sometimes we got to focus. But I do address the "personal" in my book because part of what is driving the crisis is "the personal" down to the soul or spiritual level. Although XR calls out consumerism, it seems inconsistent? Why do we think the fossil fuel industry is expanding? There is clearly a need for FUEL. And what are we fueling? Our desires that manifest as products in our unabated consumeristic societies. And when I say consumeristic societies, the U.S. is the top of the list followed by Europe. It's not the entire world who is the problem, and it's the "richest" countries that are. So, I don't believe focusing is wrong. It's important. But personal and the political are inter-related, and so I make an attempt to address both.
If you understand the need to get money out of politics, Raver J would recommend (if she were part of this reality) to look into and possibly support, Move to Amend.
3) Their specifics are different
In the novel there is an exploration around what Climate Justice Alliance(CJA) calls "historical racial, cultural, and economic justice intersections with the energy sector" that I don't see blatantly addressed by Greta, XR, or Fridays for the Future. CJA calls for a "Just Transition" which is slightly different and more specific than the global Green New Deal, which is being advocated for by XR. Fire Drill Fridays is not super specific either, but they at least bring in the language that may help them steer toward "Just Transition" vs. an imperial-tech-driven one that accidentally continues or repeats inequitable horrors. For instance, "net zero," as demanded by XR, is not considered part of the "Just Transition" by CJA. I would like to add though that in Greta's last COP25 video she did say (finally, yay, keep sayin it girl!) to keep the fossil fuels in the ground which has been a major demand by Indigenous communities and Climate Justice activists for some time and was not being addressed on the main stage.
Extinction Rebellion has 3 demands. One, that world governments tell the truth by declaring a climate ecological emergency, Two that governments commit to halting biodiversity loss and reduce GHG emissions to net zero by 2025, and Three that the governments must create and be led by a Citizen's Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
It's great to get more people involved initiatlly but as the saying goes, "the devil is in the details". Is net zero good enough? What is being proposed to halt biodiversity loss? Do you think these solutions will be effective? Raver J would recommend to look as deeply as possible into this issue and realize that the issue is an interweaving of many issues and all those need to be looked at with discernment. Calling for emergencies may cause us to panic and blindly follow. Instead we can, and possibly should all, be leaders.
4) Calling out the military
I start to dance around this in RAVE: Mythophrenia, the idea of the military as an industry. As an industry, they need to be called out. They have been and still currently are exempt from reporting on certain activities that are estimated to contribute quite heavily toward GHG emissions. Greta is exemplary at straight-talking and fact flinging, so I hope she can direct some of that skill towards eventually calling out this industry.
5) A return to Nature
The biggest difference between Raver J and Greta is that Raver J's story shows that the problem with the world is not a "Climate Crisis" but a "Spiritual Crisis" which has brought us to the point of Earth manifesting climatic symptoms of a sickness caused by some rogue consumeristic-sickness cells (programmed public of the "richest" countries). If a disease is a plan that is carried out by diseased cells, then "the plan" is our current version of unabated consumer-driven, Nature-negating, and impersonal capitalism. What we need is to reconnect to our fellow humans in our local community and, most importantly, return somehow to a harmonious understanding and relationship with Nature.
Very pragmatic, I've never heard Greta really talk about her love and relationship with Nature. In her story, Raver J, begins to find her connection again. It is critically important for everyone who is expressing concern about what is going on right now to develop or re-establish that connection. We will not see the issue correctly if we don't understand the problem in the first place. I'm not saying Greta doesn't have a profound relationship, but rather I have not heard her mention any in the talks I have listened to. I'm also not sure I have heard a specific demand for global governments to give the land back as reparations to the Indigenous people they have stolen it from and then sold or leased it to the extraction industry that is repsonible for not only GHG (because this is far from only an issue about "carbon") emissions but also other polluting business practices that damage the land. Perhaps those privileged enough to be at these conferences should, instead of speaking on behalf of, bring someone from the Indigenous community to speak with them. Indigenous tribes, have generally played an important role as protecting the land because of the harmonious relationship they have with it. We have a lot to learn from those who still know another way to live.
The relationship with Nature is necessary for this journey of stepping up on Nature's behalf. How do we start to develop a relationship? Easy, start spending as much time as possible in or closer to Nature. Bring plants into your home to learn about them and care for them. Start a garden or take part in a local community garden. Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and mingle with the other members. Go out of your way to find Indigenous community groups to hear their perspective. If that's too challenging, see if CJA is in your city. There is an entire world of Nature lovers. Join that party. They are typically like ravers, sweet and welcoming.
Nature, given a chance, can rejuvenate. If it's a beautiful day, enjoy it so that you carry that energy into your new work on the planet's behalf. And a cautionary warning. We will want scapegoats and someone to blame, but all of us need to ask ourselves how we are personally contributing. Take the time to analyze your own personal responsibility because society is a collective of individuals. Sure, some companies may be guilter than any one person but those companies mirror society. They too are a collective of individuals who have gotten us into this mess. Let's arm ourselves with as much information as possible, and then demand change with the calm of repose coupled with sharp dance moves.
INSPIRED TO DO SOMETHING?
From the CJA website:
"The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is an alliance of over 70 community organizations, movement networks, and support organizations on the frontlines of the climate crisis in North America. CJA’s constituencies are rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and poor white communities. They share legacies of racial and economic oppression, along with rich histories of social justice organizing. CJA is committed to real climate solutions and opposes geoengineering techno-fixes and market-based solutions, including some of the ill-informed “clean energy” legislation currently being proposed at the municipal, state and national levels will reduce greenhouse gasemissions at the source, restore equity, and put decision-making in the hands of communities (CJA 2017). To push toward a sectoral tipping point of the Just Transition, CJA has developed an Energy Democracy Platform that incorporates historical racial, cultural, and economic justice intersections with the energy sector and moves control of energy systems from industry to the people most affected by exploitation of humans and the Earth. CJA believes that the process of transition must be just, centering race, gender and class."
So, why write this piece?
Years ago, I, the writer/ creatrix of Raver J, had a dream. The short version is this; I was "asked" to take part in a movement towards mass awakening via a fictional story, character, and her raver crew. As I accepted the challenge and embarked on my own heroine's journey (which would allow me to discover what the character's story was about), I would realize a few years what I was actually doing. My story was to be an artivist piece to bring awareness and encourage action surrounding the health of Gaia, our beautiful Earth.
Electronic music culture is a huge and diverse community that prides itself on its good vibes, openness, and desire to share that heart-based energy with the larger world. Many of us believe ourselves to be more compassionate and empathetic, so it always made sense to me that we, at the very least, have an understanding of our impact on Earth and the societies we directly or indirectly touch.
I saw this type of awareness and education happening within what we were calling the "transformational" party-festival circuit, but I thought this awareness could be brought into the broader scene. Earth's true healing process will come from paradigm change, meaning not from the same system that created it.
"Corporate solutions to a problem caused in large part by corporate power represent a blatant attempt to continue to foist today’s problems upon coming generations, so that those groups who have caused the most damage can abdicate any responsibility to deal with the issues immediately, because doing so would ultimately hurt their bottom line."
The electronic music scene has a very important role to play (ironic as it may be to some) in the returning back to the Nature consciousness required to change our current destructive "climate crisis" path. How exactly? Because we are a community of"creatives". Yes, the music artists but also the VJ's, promoters, the lighting crew, the stage makers, the costume designers, the dance crews and go-go dancers, the photographers, and other documentarians - writers, like me - and every person going to the party making their own outfits, those laboring for hours over-elaborate kandi designs, those cutting shapes on the dancefloor, and all sharing the new paradigm of heart-based energy given freely through hugs. Maybe it's the drugs we used to take, I don't know. We have open minds, open hearts, and if we can just have more people in our scene focus their attention on using different materials or applying their creative energy toward solving problems we face in the communities we live in... well, I already see the world changing in the right direction (sometimes - there's more work to do for sure!)
I like to think not but I welcome discussion regarding how to best serve as an ally.
I'll be making videos in this new year elaborating upon Just Transition and about Turning Up the Vote in 2020.
Follow Your Heart, Save the World