The Null Device

If you can't whip it, go ye down

In what is an echo of both the New Order Sunkist commercial and the self-jamming Nike billboards, anti-commercial New Wave band Devo have rerecorded their song "Whip It" for a cleaning product commercial. The ad shows middle-aged women dancing robotically whilst cleaning their suburban homes, while the music plays; the chorus has been changed to "Swiffer's good":
Devo agreed to perform the altered version for Swiffer advertisements because, Mr. Mothersbaugh said, "it was so absurd. We like messing with the boundaries between art and commerce."

Blatant sell-out, a clever subversion of consumerism, both or neither? It increasingly seems like the lines are blurred, every anti-consumerist culture jam becomes a viral marketing campaign and vice versa, with a hair's breadth of ironic detachment separating the cognisant from the suckers.

There are 11 comments on "If you can't whip it, go ye down":

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com/ Fri Aug 15 09:57:40 2003

Heh. I suspect only Devo would've get away with this. Anyway, Mark Mothersbaugh has famously done the music for things such as Rugrats, so it may not be such a huge leap. "Toil Is Stupid"...

Posted by: Alex http://subgenius.com Sat Aug 16 05:36:13 2003

To paraphrase the Official, Divine, All-Inclusive Excuse, (Worth 15,000 Indulgences or 3 Million Years in Purgatory (sorry, no Hell time)) of the Subgenius, of which Devo are allegedly members:

"Any apparent contradictions are an integral part of the belief system of the Church and are thus entirely non-contradictory."

I wonder how long it will be before we start seeing the Swiffer used as a sex toy. (In 'Pub', Fred Negro once depicted himself being flaggellated by his wife with a feather duster.)

And then there's this kind of stuff. (The following link contains a pornographic image.) http://www.rotten.com/fotm/pic3b.html

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com/ Sat Aug 16 15:05:57 2003

Woo, gross one, Alex. Another definition for the term "hoover", methinx.

Posted by: Alex http:// Sat Aug 16 17:25:05 2003

Gibson's Second Law: The bedroom also finds its own use for things!

Posted by: thor http://mobythor.pitas.com/ Sun Aug 17 08:51:05 2003

You know, the older I get the more I see the world is filled to suffocating. Man has placed his token on every stone. Every word, and every image, everything of value is leased, mortgaged and whored. Mans invention, 'capitalism' has fed like a vampire till all the life juices are sucked out of everyone. The 'system' is inescapable.Your locked into it even though you think your not much like the matrix. Xers (born from 1963 to 1983) like myself do not remember stability in society or feel the need to rebel against it once we get older. Xers aren't drawn to absolutes, because they have grown up in a world of constant change - a world filled with ambiguity and uncertainty. Xers leave behind arguments over order and rebellion. Instead they live their lives in the chaotic unknowns of the present and the future.We know that your/mine rebellion has been up-surged and turned into gap ads.This addiction has led also to the marketing of 'cool'. i.e. of things 'rad' or once were. Addiction sucks, likewise,Being cool s

Posted by: thor http://mobythor.pitas.com Sun Aug 17 08:55:24 2003

likewise,Being cool sucks.. The pressure to be cool: wear the right stuff, be into the right music, hang out with the right people. It's all crap. The Man wants you to be Cool® because Cool® = Profit. Cool is an artificial concept dreamed up by ad-men and we've fallen for it so much that people who aren't Cool are mocked & even persecuted by people who are. There's no such thing as Cool. People who think they're Cool by having a mullet, wearing meshback Coors caps, Nike Air Jordans, and Harley Davidson t-shirts laugh at people with green hair, baggy jeans, Vans, and nose-rings. And vise versa. So who's right? Nobody. Judge people by their actions, then judge your own reaction to their action and not by the fucking shoes they wear. Believe me the first time I heard velvet underground's Lou Reed song on a commercial my heart sank, for I knew what was happening like an epiphany all at once.At the time Tool's Album undertow was out and I was angry at what I had come to realize was the itch you can't scratch.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sun Aug 17 09:24:19 2003

Nice essay. Though next time post it somewhere more suited to the format.

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com/ Sun Aug 17 15:20:22 2003

Oh great, another TFHW.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sun Aug 17 15:43:20 2003

That's not all; there were two or three more entries' worth of that before I deleted them.

Posted by: thor http://mobythor.pitas.com Mon Aug 18 02:07:38 2003

sorry,I didn't mean to offend anyone, I thought since the Topic was several topics down the page that it prolly wouldn't be a problem.I was wrong.---oh and whats a TFHW?...hehe

Posted by: Luke http://www.captainfez.com/blog/ Thu Aug 21 01:15:28 2003

...except that Mothersbaugh's famously scored work for MTV and other Big Corporate Nasties for years. It's hardly new. The rant strangely reminds me of the Futurama bit about wearing clothes with rings.

Want to say something? Do so here.

Post pseudonymously

Display name:
URL:(optional)
To prove that you are not a bot, please enter the text in the image into the field below it.

Your Comment:

Please keep comments on topic and to the point. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.

Note that markup is stripped from comments; URLs will be automatically converted into links.