Monster Energy: The “Sonic” Of The Proletariat World (A Sincere Analysis)


This liquid has marked my generation and probably the generation I’m now starting to teach: Monster Energy, the juice of late capitalism.


The first time I seriously thought about food as a cultural object was when I heard a little anecdote from my high school teacher. At the time, I was studying at a wealthy neighborhood school on the East Side of São Paulo, located near schools as large as supermarkets, that was hidden in sort of a cave where previously a McDonald’s was built, now merged into a commercial building.

The teacher would always tell the anecdote in the first 15 minutes of the classes about the coffee cycle in Brazil. It consisted of a conversation between my teacher and his past teacher about the number of books he would need to read, which, in addition to being inaccessible because of the different languages that they were written, it was too much for “a person who worked 8 hours a day.” In this regard, the teacher, after a short moment of silence, asked him: “Silas (his name was Dimas), how many hours do you sleep a day?”. My teacher, like every healthy freshman, told him that he slept the recommended eight hours a day which, in response, received the advice that, from now on, he should sleep six hours since: “You will have plenty of time to sleep when you are dead, Silas”. As the story ends and we return to the present, he now said that it was not only thanks to the coffee that he managed to follow the memento mori of his former master but one (of the many) personal questions he had consisted of the following: Would it be possible to inject coffee into my veins without dying?

More than the morbid strangeness of this little story, it was the reaction of my classmates that aroused my reflection. As I said, my school was one of those that shaped high school students on a three-year course for children at puberty which, since day 1 in that place, taught us about a way of living and working within that little, stuffy dungeon.

The lifestyle was very simple: five hours of daily classes, lunch, four hours of daily subject review, exams twice a week, monthly entrance exams simulations, a flood of entrance exams at the end of the year, and intense dedication to always be the best. I, without being diagnosed with ADHD at the time and already diagnosed as a smoker, was not within that world and, therefore, the story presented itself to me as another of the anecdotes of that former university professor and former “POR” sympathizer. I was sixteen, which meant that I was no longer fifteen years old and that next year I would be seventeen, implying that the countdown between my high school and the dreaded FUVEST university exam already came close enough for me to move towards the front chairs on classes and make a new range of friends from there. Unlike my comrades, these people did not have a study routine, but rather a holistic Confucian practice of respect for the tradition of study, summaries, repetition, colored text mark on the title to any subject (no matter how dark it was), and last, but not least, of the exaggerated and religious consumption of coffee.
Within this group, I saw for the first time a person besides me having a panic crisis because of a textbook. People who explained to me the gravitational acceleration theory (which is 9.8 m/s²) highlighted my need to learn small breathing exercises with my psychologist while my voice grew in a characteristic “dystopia” ASMR accent (which just helped them in their deeds). This group of approximately 20 girls and boys, some upper-middle-class and others with scholarships, mostly heterosexual and passionate about medicine, faced my teacher’s story with a latent admiration and hidden laughter that reaffirmed peace to them, as the fact that they were inserted into this work system at such a young age meant that they were “on the right track.”

Witnessing this moment of almost religious ecstasy – which I would only find again in a Badoo meeting that ended in a Mormon Mass 2 years after this first story – my mind could only manage to formulate the question: “Wow… all this because of… coffee?” Writing this text, I will try to answer past Arthur that, simultaneously, it is was all about coffee, and no, this goes far beyond coffee. So, beyond the coffee that culminates in the zeitgeist, now the liquid of my generation and probably the generation to which I now begin to teach is the “Monster Energy”, the juice of late capitalism.

At that time, I couldn’t answer that question clearly because I never had a job. When I mean “job” I also mean not just “wage labor”, but rather “work” in its broader concept. According to google’s dictionary, work is: “A set of activities, productive or creative, that man exercises to achieve a certain end”. Thus, we can say that this rather simple, but demanding, network of essays and abstracts with an unconsciously postmodern design is, without the slightest doubt, a work regime in which my colleagues were inserted. Those who were especially passionate about medicine understood well what “crunch” meant, even without knowing exactly that there was a word to designate how were organizing their lives. In this, Coffee was, without the slightest doubt, the same as water for the bodies forged in the flames of the existential laser of the summaries from my Physics teacher Naldo.

This ceremony was (with a lot of regrets) not part of my years of training, having been postponed by my pubertal procrastination until my current university years, in which I’ve never cheated again – either by a moralizing promise that I made after the miracle that was my approval in the course or by the sadness and sorrow that my friend and supplier of cheats made in my life. In this bittersweet, I understood the spirit of coffee.

I call it a “Spirit” because, in fact, coffee was not, is not, and will never be the drink I sipped most. This is because, as much as there is no self-respect within myself, there is a very high awareness that, in this economy, my anxiety does not survive more than a cup full of coffee with milk. However, the very own presence of coffee in a ritualistic way before all the first morning classes and every working day already implied that, finally, I was doing something that required effort and dedication in my life. Now, replacing the immense amount of formulas and exercises that were given to me and that I despised as much as the Templars accused those who despised The Doctrine of Our Mr. Jesus Christ, I applied this logic to a working regime that required me, after six months, a giant portion of records, critical reviews and detailed analyses that imply a much more active thought. This culminates in a seasonal moment: Every end of the semester, I needed to spend about two weeks awake thinking about nothing, just what I needed to produce for my academic life. In that context, I started drinking Monster Energy.

Colder (and more palatable) than coffee, while more expensive and with much higher promises of productivity, energy drinks were used just like a small extra to survive the end of the semester. I always calculated exactly how much time and budget space I could maintain a constant consumption of this green-slurry liquid so that I could end my semester and sleep a single 14-hour snooze-reward before returning to my metaphysical state of nature, in which I just dedicated myself to the philosophical activity of scratching my balls.

One day, while drinking the Monster and on my way to meet a college friend, he exclaimed to me with the tragic irony that predicted this text: “Wow, you’re having an e-girl drink!”. I laughed in the same way that I laugh at job interviews, without understanding and desperately implying a desire for acceptance, since, in reality, I didn’t know the ontological meaning of an e-girl – apart from the colored hair and the mysterious allegations about the lack of baths.

Now, probably, the attentive reader will be asking when Monster Energy will be analyzed as an object and how important a teen fashion is to our serious insight into such a product. My answer: Extremely important. For at this point in my life – in which officially and non-ironically have had TikTok as an important symbol to maintain my relationships and spent a night of fasting reflecting on the lyrical themes present in Billie Eilish’s album – I can tell you, with scientific certainty, that the comical link between the consumption of energetic Monster Energy and the cultural presence of e-girls is the same as the connection between plaid shirts’ and the grunge movement. My recent intellectual maturity and knowledge have been acquired not only because of an approximation of those cultural symbols in the form of aesthetic expression but also from the increasing precariousness of both my mental health, work, and study regime that was established in my life as the spiraling descent that this country heads towards the bottom of the pit. What was just a balanced consumption for just two weeks turned into two months of tasting among the most diverse flavors of Monster along with the most efficient guided meditation apps and the most efficient “passion fruit” recipes I could find on the internet after crying in the bath for having pronounced the U vowel in French in a slightly more open way than required. After this climax, there was within me not only a trivialization of this liquid and its various forms but also, in the depths of my id, a question: “What if I took Monster without having to study, just for fun?”. I had internalized and humanized the drug through which I kept myself in a routine of unreal and destructive production. I loved her now. And now I understood the nature of these questions.

My health, however, prevented me from making a more critical reflection on this product, since I was placed within its logic. So now – after having spent months without an energy drink and having taken the first sip of it for the composition of this analysis at the very moment I write these words – I can say, with the same certainty which my colleagues told me what was the acceleration of gravity (which is 9.8 m/s²): Monster Energy represents the most peculiar expression of the times we live in, in which work (an integral part of everyone’s life, except for those that did not become a CEO after an internship in their Dad’s company), is not only precarious but coerced into romanticizing this very pathological obsession with production, inserting within us (even the most Marxist) the desire to “work while they sleep”. At the same time, why would this drink be the net anthem of the generation of e-girls who lack the profile of a normal workaholic? Culture and counterculture collide in a black tin whose color palettes consist of black, white, and green moss.

Only cops drink Monster Energy in a glass. That’s why all my friends and people I care about have never even thought about doing such kind of moral behavior when consuming this drink. In this case, it is weird to think that, even if we do not see its liquid, we imagine it green as the color present in the animalistic M that’s placed as the logo of this drink, with a suggestion of erotism that the eschatological color its design. This, honestly, is not one of the nicest colors for a drink. Who in their right mind would make something with this color that recalls the most humiliating types of excrement? Similarly, at the same time, we can ask: who, in their right mind, would vote for a candidate for mayor of São Paulo who, in his words, deeds and appearances, looks like Lex Luthor? Just our generation of sommeliers in disgrace. A generation that is witnessing the regressive countdown of a clock marking how much time we have before the climate collapse as we spend our days laboring, mostly on informal work, with journeys that go far beyond what our “Whatsapp” generation of uncles regarded as “hard work.”

Thus, my teacher’s clinically questionable intimate reflection – if he could “insert coffee into his veins without dying” – becomes our own. We take something that literally calls itself a “monster” and looks like the literal piss of a Godzilla movie villain from the ’60s, so how do you think the youth who have the least serotonin produced in the brain could work in such expansively oppressive conditions? So Monster Energy is like that one of your colleagues who is five years older and slightly higher in the corporate hierarchy who explains to you that, to get along here, it would be “cool if you missed the first one” of your two daily classes at the university to work on that project you were assigned, even if the internship contract didn’t give you that responsibility. But you accept because you really want this salary to buy the last Animal Crossing and still have some affection for this colleague since he called you bro. Still, this conclusion can not explain “why e-girls drink Monster Energy”, since even an attentive reader could point out that, after all, working is something kinda normie, right? How does a movement that has as its affection on the youth fulsomeness inserts, within itself, a cultural object so intrinsically linked to the world of labor without, in fact, subverting it?

The use of chemicals that change the perception of our senses is certainly something older than MySpace. Hippies, in the 1960s, pioneered LSD and other drugs as a form of revolt against the “reality” placed in their historical period. Even though it is was a very easy way to “subvert” by melting the doors of perception while apartheid was taking place in the USA, we can say that, compared to this, the use of Monster by e-girls is something completely normie at first sight. When we analyze the very alienating nature of drug abuse with the very resourcefulness of capitalism after these initial movements of counterculture and contestation, we can see how harmful the Monster Energy brand is not only that contradiction but also its own material – more essential to the maintenance of this can than the existence of the aluminum that composes the can.

It is central to tell the fearful reader: I am not a policeman, thank God. So what I’m going to say about drugs is not meant to judge, but rather to demonstrate some political effects that they assume. Based on this, we can perceive, in many moments, the use of drugs as instruments of alienation and demobilization of movements of the fight against capitalism and colonialism. In China, for example, the government was forced to buy opium from England after losing the Opium Wars and thus ended up with a gigantic portion of its population in a condition of dependency until its communist revolution. Similarly, the drugs were also used by the CIA, which, in its fight against the Black Panther Party, inserted them into black communities in order to demobilize the revolutionary organization. “Legal” drugs (and normies), such as alcohol, were also widely used in domination schemes. Tsarist Russia, for example, used widely its vodka production to contain the growing misery that comes from its regime. Substances, legal or illicit, also affect the policy of our generation, being inserted in our cultural industry. This, however, does not support any kind of war on drugs that are put into practice around the world against marginalized people. The pure hedonism that comes with the discourse of open apology to drugs also ends up being reactionary, since it masks the true limits of the action that youth has concerning society.

What was then superficially considered as anti-systemic, in reality, was swallowed up by the cultural logic of capitalism in a way that even the disruption of capitalism implies the maintenance of one’s own. This singular movement of our century is called by the philosopher Mark Fisher “Capitalist Realism”. He, as a high school teacher who witnessed firsthand the formation of the subjectivism within this cultural environment, formed since the 1990s, said so about his students: “Many of the young students I met seemed to be in a state that I would call “depressed hedonism”. Depression is usually characterized as a non-hedonic state, but the condition to which I refer consists not so much of an inability to obtain pleasure and more by the inability to do anything but seek pleasure.” The Hedonic lethargy routine summed up by him as “the easy diet of comforting forgetfulness – Playstation, ALL-night TV and Marijuana” forms a generation that is fully aware that what happens in our world is not right, that this is not life itself, but, instead of organizing itself politically, one can only recognize revolt through an ironic stance, of an anti-system that sells perfectly well to the system.

That’s why I perceive the energetic Monster Energy as an echo of what was once Sonic’s figure. Sega’s mascot in the 1990s was, like this masterfully lousy drink, a symbol of revolt and dissatisfaction made to sell a product. While people played Mario because they liked the music and his innocence, people chose Sonic to see that blue eco-socialist hedgehog run as far as possible to fight sort of a non-vegetarian Steve Jobs, thus performing his rebelliousness, his opposition to common sense and normal, but having, in the end, the same texture and essence, even with a slightly more acidic taste. That’s why we have millionaires with anime profile pictures on their Twitter putting robot names on their kids. Liking this kind of posturing is the way the culture industry creates a safe playground so that the revolt so common within the heart of most of the population facing late capitalism can be performed without putting it in danger. In conclusion: Monster Energy is amazing. My rating is 5 stars, but unfortunately, it feels like a normie spending a night at “Villa Mix”. This is not necessarily a problem, I feel deeply relieved to know that I am a normie and, as I have already exposed here, the only thing that is not normie in this economy is the immortal science of the proletariat.

Notes:

I also leave here a curious fact that my main companion to cheat on tests is Triz Parizotto, an actress who participated in the Novel “Éramos Seis” (We were Six) from Globo and is currently a successful streamer. On this note, I would like to thank you for your arduous help who, together with the great use of her skills as an actress, was responsible for my success in the tests of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. Thank you very much, Bia.


Translated by Lucas Teixeira Lopes

Student of International Relations. MUN Teacher. Translator of Articles and Comics/Manga. Passionate about what I do. Contact: lt.lopes@hotmail.com


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Eleições

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  • Três youtubers bolsonaristas que chegam ao Congresso

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    ,

    Três youtubers foram eleitos este ano, e todos estão associados a fenômenos de violência. Gustavo Gayer e Nikolas Ferreira são propagadores de um discurso político violento, enquanto o Delegado da Cunha é conhecido por publicar vídeos de operações policiais degradantes à comunidades paulistanas.

  • Bolsonarista prejudica eleição ao votar duas vezes em Lisboa; entenda o caso

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    Para especialista em Direito Eleitoral, o Cônsul-geral do Brasil em Lisboa poderia se envolver na convocação dos eleitores se comprovados que os votos anulados poderiam afetar o resultado da eleição de 1º turno.

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