As a sort of a follow up to Ares Kalandides’ article “The Killer Argument: “You’re a bloody Gentrifier!” posted last Friday, I would like you to consider the following scenario:
1) You are wearing a woolen hat (even though it is summer and nobody knows why).
2) You are listening to mainstream electro music through your ‘over-the-top’ headphones.
3) You are wearing large, anti-glare sunglasses.
4) You are carrying a shoulder bag made out of old tarps. And its most important content is your Macbook.
5) You brought your iPhone (so you can Tweet every 10 minutes).
6) You are drinking a Chai Latte to go (with soy milk).
7) You are walking around in cool sneakers (that are made only in the U.S.A.).
If one or all of these things apply to you, you may in fact be a Kiez Killer or a “killer of the neighborhood”. At least this is what one local artist in the Berlin neighborhood of Neukölln thinks.
Though I am unaware as to what the artists own intentions are, here is my understanding of this depiction: The Kiez Killer is an individual who is completely disengaged with his local surroundings and reality. It looks like it is perhaps male, but we can’t be certain. It might be extra-terrestrial. It is an “it”. And it doesn’t hear, it doesn’t speak, it doesn’t care about anything….except consuming soy chai lattes and the mainstream. It provides no insight and has nothing to contribute to society. It lacks autonomy, personality, understanding, participation, and any meaningful role in the neighborhood. It is most definitely the anti-thesis of Baudelaire’s flâneur.
The title ‘Kiez Killer’ inherently implies that this individual is responsible for the death of the community. Yet I can’t help but wonder if the Kiez Killer should be understood the other way around: as a product of its environment, not a destroyer. A product of gentrification, not a ‘gentrifier’. Or should we view him simply as a product of consumerism in general? How would Marx view the Kiez Killer?