Friday, April 27, 2012

CULTURE ZOMBIES TAKE UP ARMS, A DEFENSE OF ATEMPORALISM

This is a thing I started but never got to finishing. Been on the back burner for mad long and don't know if i'll ever get round to finishing it.... soooooo here it is in all it's half-assed glory.
BON APPETIT


How about Kurt Andersen gives me the finger, and I get my phonecall blogpost?


I was listening to NPR Gossip Girl the other week, and heard this dude Kurt Andersen going on about how culture is dead, nothings changed in the past 20 years, artists are in a creative time loop, yada yada, mr big pants, don't I sound smaht, all college university n shit...

And, I was all like PSHHHT. evs. But then I heard that the NPR piece Gossip Girl episode that I was listening to was in tandem? in promotion of? in mutualist symbiosis with? this article, "You Say You Want a Devolution?" that ran in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair.

And if some dude runs his mouth on NPR Gossip Girl, who cares, but if that shit is PUBLISHED? That shit's like forever (for realsies realsies) and I gotta check it out. So I did, and after reading it I was all like, WEEELLLLLLLL?

WWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLL?!?!?!?!?

And I'm all WEEEELLLLL?!? cause the argument that Mr. Andersen  Neo  MIIISSSTERRR AAAANDEEERRRRSEN  MY NAME... IS NEO!  Mister Andersen lays out is (on the surface) fairly convincing. He lays out a kind of cyclical trend that we've all noticed at one point or another and he supports those arguments with snippits of observation and data like a mr. big boy college university. But while the groundwork for his argument was all cococabana copacetic, the conclusions he draws are so absurd and whiny that I'm surprised that anyone would publish him (or even take him seriously!).

Mister Andersen's article TOTALLY misrepresents contemporary culture and fails to recognize and the way that current artists relate to and interact with media and aesthetics. In doing this, he reinforces the false idea that artists are still living and working in the old, romanticized paradigm of modernism, something that hasn't existed for 40 years. In effect, he is spreading propaganda of false ideas, ignorance and myth; and as someone who actually cares about and contributes to art, culture, and all that jazz, I aint down with that shit.

So that's why I'm writing this response. Someone's gotta set shit straight. AMIRITE? Enough jibba, enough jabba. On to the Theses.

The problem with Kurt Andersen's article is that:

A: he fails to make a fundamental distinction between trends in popular/mass culture (i.e. american consumer culture) and changing directions in culture as a whole. Through the selective use of evidence, he represents elements or objects of consumer culture as the ONLY cultural output of our society today, while totally ignoring (or dismissing) the alternative subcultures that have abounded in the past 30 years. His analysis, concluding that styles of music, clothing, etc have been recycled for the past several decades may be true for pop culture, yet this is NOT because the death of cultural innovation. The repetition is due to the commercialization of culture on a mass scale, which necessitates safety and stability in cultural expressions on a macro level. Independent subcultures, which Andersen brushes off, are not reliant on general consumption to survive, which allows these cultural expressions to explore, innovate, and reinterpret art and media, thus undermining the validity of Andersen's argument.

B: he does not completely grasp (or choose to express?) the appropriative elements of postmodern creation or their relevance to culture today. In a fetishization of "newness" and by compartmentalizing music, styles of dress, and other cultural expressions into arbitrary decades on a cultural timeline, Andersen doesn't acknowledge the fluid dialog between creators, contemporaries, and their predecessors, he perpetuates the long outmoded myth of the avant-guarde, and fails to see how artists see their world today: a simultaneous cloud of aesthetic ideas, forms, and styles that exist outside of (or in spite of?!?!?) their traditional historical milieu, i.e. atemporalism. Run on sentence.

C: his brain has somehow come to the conclusion that.... and I quote:

"In some large measure...[the culture freeze is] an unconscious collective reaction to all the profound nonstop newness we’re experiencing on the tech and geopolitical and economic fronts. People have a limited capacity to embrace flux and strangeness and dissatisfaction, and right now we’re maxed out." 

Or to paraphrase in the vernacular, "WWWHHOOOOOOAAAA, TECHNOLOGY IS CRAAAAZZZEEEEEE! WUTS AN ECONOMY? I CANT POINT OUT IRAQ ON A MAP BUT IF YOU MESS WITH ME ILL RAQ YOUR FACE! WHOOPS! BETTER NOT MAKE ANY NEW SORTSA CULTURE, OTHERWISE MY HEAD MIGHT SPLODE! FML! ;(   ".

C'mon.

For reals?



Kurt Andersen finds understanding modern technology to be too daunting a task, thus the production of culture has ground to a halt, as this graphic demonstrates.
Image VIA the tubes

So while I'm in an immature mood and it's fresh in my mind, I'm gonna go ahead and attack point C right now. Besides the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever provided for this presumption of a tech induced cultural coma, this idea is just plain stupid and should never have made it to print.

Look Mister Andersen Neo, I'm 26 years old and I had my first email account when I was 9. I was crankin that free net pr0n while you still had go down to the corner store, pretending that you needed bananas, milk, and bread, but at the last second requesting a skin mag from the clerk while failing to make eye contact for the rest of the transaction. I used Napster, Friendster, AllsortsofSters you never heard of. I don't watch Breaking Bad, or the Wire, or any of your other favorite shows on cable TV; I stream them from the world wide web, beaming them wirelessly to my laptop computer while I lay in my bed, hungover. OK? I'm not verklempt by technology. The world isn't moving too fast for me, OK? It's not moving fast enough. Wrap that up in bacon and smoke it.

So if you need your grand niece to set up your kindle, think that BluRay is the way of the future, and use google to get to facebook, fine. Go for it. But just cause you're confused about all these technological "thingamajigs" doesn't mean that we all are. Leave me out of your pseudopsycological bullshit blanket statements, or at the very least support them with some evidence. YEAH, thanks. Enjoy your day.

OK. On to more scholarly pursuits....

Point A.

I hate to say it, but in a way I gotta give props to Mister Andersen, because throughout the article he has some compelling data to support his points which I feel is lacking in a lot of cultural criticism these days. HOWEVER...... (and this is where the evidence works against his argument) data is only useful as the accuracy of the analysis. Mkay? Cause if you have data that is either incomplete or skewed to support your conclusion, rather than the reality of the situation, you end up with convincing, yet MISLEADING arguments. This is bad because you sound like you know what you're talking about, but you don't.

simple REALLY STOOPID way to illustrate this would be to say, "out of the 60% of people who use toothpaste brand X, 100% will DIE!". But of course, there is no definite causality between the statistical data and the conclusion of death; everyone knows that 100% of people who use toothpaste eventually die. The toothpaste will keep your teeth white and shiny (IF USED AS DIRECTED!!!!!) but it wont kill you (IF USED AS DIRECTED!!!!!), but in juxtaposing the first statistic with the one about everyone dying, the reader assumes a direct relationship. But just because proximity implies a direct relationship, doesn't mean that the two statistics are actually linked. Soooooooo yeah. Stats. Useful, convincing, dubious and sometimes skewed to lead towards a false conclusion. Never mind. That shit stoopid.

And therein lies Neo's problem. The data that supports his argument is not comprehensive enough; it's cherry picked to support his argument, he blatantly ignores contradictory evidence, and when the evidence is to big to ignore, he uses pat justifications to flip the connotation of the data so that it (kinda?) works for him.




Kurt Andersen is mad that TV producers are constantly recycling content, like this show, where Daniel Dae Kim has to battle humanoid robots called Cylons on a mysterious island in the Pacific Ocean
Image VIA Imdb.com


Regard. One of things Mr. Andersen's criticizes is the remaking of previously existing television shows and movies like Hawaii Five-O and Charlie's Angels, insisting that there is no new cultural expression due to a "nostalgic cultural gaze", but in the same article praises original (and yes NEW) programming like Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, and Breaking Bad. This contradiction is played off though, by reasoning that these television series don't count as evidence against cultural devolution because they are "so few that they prove the rule". Funny though, that (at least in the realm of television) he provides more examples of exceptions to the rule, than he does for the rule itself. Kinda breaks the rule that  exceptions are less common than the data set that makes up the rule, knowadimean? Unless, Neo's point is the exception that proves the rule about exceptions?!?!? Wait... I'm confused....



Mike the Situation isn't pointing at his abs situation. He's pointing to himself, in reference to the fact that Kurt Andersen fails to recognize reality television as a new fixture of culture that's arisen in the past 20 years.
Image VIA

But in addition to the wonderful original programming that Neo mentioned, what about reality television? How can you ignore that massive paradigm change in television programming? I'm hesitant to call it an innovation because it was born out of necessity because of a television writer's strike and the majority of reality TV is total crap that for some reason I absolutely cant take my eyes off of oh shit oh shit omygoddidyoujustseewhathappeneded? but it at least deserves an honorable mention in terms of cultural developments in the past 20 years. *whisper* But lets not mention reality tv, ok? cause it runs contrary to Mister Andersen's whole point! that would kind of make him look stupid right? ok, thanks guys! */whisper*




When Ice Cube's done with that 40, you know he ain't gonna throw it out. Cause like Kurt Andersen said, 
Rappers are all bout RECYCLING, knowwaddimsayin? Don't worry, he'll get to it! 
Just let him finish listening to that Steve Miller Band Record
Image VIA "Get your swag UP" 


Neo does a similar data twist when describing the "recycling" of music. He does call hip-hop the "last genuinely new form" of music  (no point in mentioning house / acid / techno / drumnbase / trance/ rave / electro / IDM / dubstep or any electronic music by the way. Cause that shit is all insignificant and euro, just like soccer. And who in the world really cares about that. NOBODY! AMIRITE?)    but then plays off its huge cultural significance like it aint no thing because it's a common practice in hip-hop to use sampling. So hip-hop technically isn't a new cultural expression, cause, you know..... sampling used to be something else.

BULLCORN. 

Show me most any hip-hop song where something is sampled, and compare it to the original content and see how recycled it is. Is "Paper Planes" by MIA the same song as "Straight to Hell" by The Clash? They have 10 seconds in common, but other than that they are about as starkly different as James Bond and a streetwalking transvestite (well they got a certain something in common, and it aint a preference for martinis... ps I mean PENIS).

Same goes for Snoop Dogg's "Murder Was the Case", which sampled Carlos Santana's "Fried Neckbones". I honestly don't think that Snoop was nostalgically looking back at Santana's jazz fusion noodling when he was trying to come up with some baller ass OG shit. And to discount the originality, ingenuity, and influence of Hip Hop in general because most songs use sampling in their production is a real stretch of an argument. I would compare it to aural collage before I would call it "recycling".

And as far as Jay-Z goes... yeah, "Jay-Z is still Jay-Z". Duh. But have you like, heard Jay-Z's music? You trying to tell me that Jigga sounds the same on "Reasonable Doubt" as he does on "Watch the Throne"? Yeah, maybe all rap sounds the same to you blanquito Kurt, but everything from Jay-Z's production to his flow has changed. That's why Jay-Z has been relevant for 15 damn years, cause he continues to modify his style to keep up with the times. Get with the program, bro.






Kurt Andersen says that Jazz Hands are NOT an integral part of musical theatre; they're just the result of a tech saturated society that, in it's franticness has adopted a backward nostalgic gaze.
Image VIA 
"The Official Patrick Swayze International Fanclub"



And what about this Broadway theater jazzhands? Neo claims that, "It didn't use to be that most Broadway musicals were revivals...or a movie/TV-derived pastiche", but is that REEAAALLLY the case? What do you mean never used to be? If I was looking for original content, the stage is probably the last place I would go looking for it. Regard:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum- Based on the plays of that Greek OG, Plautus
Annie- Originally adapted from a comic strip
Anything Goes- Revival in 1962
Caberet- Based on a play that was based on a book
Fiddler on Roof- Adapted from a book
Guys and Dolls- Based on two short stories. Revivals in 1955, 1965, and 1966
Hello, Dolly- Adapted from a one act play
How to Succeed- Originally adapted from a book
Oklahoma!- Revival in 1951
Show Boat- Revivals in 1932, 1946, 1948, and 1954
Sweeny Todd- Based on a Play
West Side Story- Romeo and Juliet anyone?

See what I'm saying? Mister Andersen's claims that the theatre isn't what it used to be is kinda bullshit. Revivals and adaptations have been going on for ages in that scene, so why would the past twenty years be any different. Also, to set the record straight, Neo lists the following musicals as being "movie/TV derived pastiche[s]" but I gotta say WEEELLLL?!?!?

Wicked- Novel by Gregory Maguire, published 1995
Mary Poppins- Novel series by P. L. Travers, published 1934-1988
The Addams Family- Single panel Comics by Charles Addams, published 1938-1988
Spider-Man- Comic by Stan Lee, published 1962-present
Bonnie & Clyde- Historical figures, Depression era bank robbers, great song by Serge Gainsbourg

While you could argue that all these plays have association with films, you cant definitively say that the musical versions of these things were solely derivative of TV shows or movies, seeing that the original material that they were based on also had cultural significance. In this instance, and in the case of previous adaptations and revivals I think that the data is being skewed to make a point rather than being indicative of a true repetition of culture the past 20 years. Indeed it could be said that repetition and adaptation, whether it be from book, movie, play, or comic strip has ALWAYS been the modus operandi of Broadway, not a recent development.

(All this data comes from wikipedia. Full disclosure. I'm lazy. I don't give a fuck)

In addition to all of this misrepresentation of data, Kurt the jerk doesn't recognize (or openly mocks) all of the really cool fucking shit that's been happening for the past 30 years that wasn't shoved down the throats of the American people through MTV, Details magazine, the AARP Bulletin (suck it grampa), or any of the other mainstream media outlets, but were nonetheless HUGELY influential to culture in their own ways. These 



To be continued...... maybe? OR WILL I ?!?!?!?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WHERE BE MY ARTIST ASSISTANTS?!?! FML.



Been doin this junk. Puttin all sorts of featherses and whipseses on that shit. But damn is it time consuming. To get the feathers right, I gotta put some medium on that junk so it stays together and then cut out a half inch pieces and then glue it down. DAM. Prolly be done with this in a year or two.


Also been lazy and haven't posted process photos. whateva. been all sorts of colds and sicknesses.
GET OFF MY NICKLEBACK!
Anywhut. You can take a look and see all the baller ass layers and boards and baller ass surfacees and reliefs and papers that go into this shit that makes my life a living hell. 

Art is a cruel mistress. But she's even crueler if she's your wife.