Sorry Charlie

In trying to purge the insidious “Je suis Charlie” sloganeering out of my head, I was reminded of the hilarious passage in Inherent Vice (Thomas Pynchon’s novel, not the shallow movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson), when Sauncho the stoner Marine Law attorney starts riffing on the once ubiquitous Charlie Tuna cartoons (which most Gen Xers likely don’t remember):

“Charlie the fucking Tuna, man! It’s all supposed to be so innocent, upwardly mobile snob, designer shades, beret, so desperate to show he’s got good taste, except he’s also dyslexic so he gets ‘good taste’ mixed up with ‘tastes good,’ but it’s worse than that! Far, far worse! Charlie really has this like obsessive death wish! Yes! He wants to be caught, processed, put in a can, not just any can, you dig, it has to be Star Kist! suicidal brand loyalty, man, deep parable of consumer capitalism, they won’t be happy with anything less than drift-netting us all, chopping us up and stacking us on the shelves of Supermarket Amerika, and subconsciously, the horrible thing is, is we WANT them to do it…And another thing. Why is there Chicken of the Sea, but no Tuna of the Farm?”

There’s more than a little relevance here to the Charlie Hebdo affair ….

Jeffrey St. Clair edits CounterPunch. His most recent book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. His essay on the Paris shootings will appear in the next issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at:


Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3