Longing for Che

An example of how dumbed down certain segments of our society have become:

This fall season, iconic Communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara is conquering the bastion of capitalism: the mall.

Thirty-seven years after his death in the jungles of Bolivia, it’s hard to miss the classic image of a beret-clad and bearded Che on T-shirts, posters, books, beanie hats and even children’s clothing.

Che’s rise in popularity of late as a marketing tool has been interpreted both as capitalism’s final victory over one of the last untouched revolutionary icons and as a demonstration of the enduring relevance of his ideals.

Opening amid this heightened interest in Guevara is the movie “Motorcycle Dairies,” distributed in the United States by Focus Features, the specialty films unit of Universal Pictures, a division of NBC Universal.

The movie depicts a young Guevara, the son of a bourgeois Argentine family, on a life-changing trip through South America with a close friend.

Another film directed by Steve Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro that will touch on Guevara’s days as a revolutionary is scheduled to open in 2005.

Major film releases often spawn a number of tie-in promotional and retail deals and Guevara is no exception despite the fiery anti-capitalist views he espoused.

“The movies are making middle America more aware of the Che,” said David McWilliams, president and founder of Fashion Victim, an apparel and accessory company based in Atlanta that makes a “substantial portion” of its $4 million to $5 million in yearly sales on dozens of items emblazoned with the most recognizable image of the Che.

Whee!! Wonder when the “Free Saddam” Tshirt craze will begin?