The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'commodified rebellion'
Hot Topic goth rocker Marilyn Manson (he's like the Pete Doherty of Red State America, or perhaps the Tom Cruise of Satanism or something) has recently launched his own brand of absinthe, which is apparently on a par with his music:
So did Mansinthe have what it takes to be a premium absinthe? According to the tasters, the answer is, sadly, no. The No. 1 problem was the aroma, which some verbally compared to sewage water or swamp mud, but with the exception of a lone taster, the panel felt it wasn't really worth wading through the odor to get to mediocre flavor anyway. Sorry, M.M.Which is missing the point; this is not a product for connoisseurs in any sense of the word, but for unsophisticated teenage mall-goths rebelling against their stolidly Bible-believing, Satan-fearing, Republican-voting parents and church groups. As long as it looks and tastes unlike anything familiar and the label could be mistaken, with sufficient ignorance, for something exotic and sophisticated, any subtlety would actually be counterproductive; something that tastes shocking and vile would actually fulfill its role as a prop of commodified rebellion better.
John Harris (who wrote The Last Party) on how popular music has been subsumed by corporate globalisation:
For musicians whose sensitivity to such chicanery places them a few notches up the evolutionary chain from Busted and Avril Lavigne, the implied contradictions can be pretty hard to swallow. Put bluntly, Anglo-American popular music is among globalisation's most useful props. Never mind the nitpicking fixations with interview rhetoric and stylistic nuance that concern its hardcore enthusiasts - away from its home turf, mainstream music, whether it's metal, rap, teen-pop or indie-rock, cannot help but stand for a depressingly conservative set of values: conspicuous consumption, the primacy of the English language, the implicit acknowledgement that America is probably best.
As the record industry's corporate structure has hardened into an immovable oligarchy - EMI, Time-Warner, BMG, Sony and Universal - so the range of musical options on offer has been dramatically scythed down. In 2004, there are but a handful of international musical superstars: Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Norah Jones, Coldplay. To characterise the process behind their global success as top-down is something of an understatement. MTV may have initially been marketed with the superficially empowering slogan, "I want my MTV"; more recently, with billions gladly hooked up, it has used the flatly sinister, "One planet, one music". Those four words beg one question: who decides?
Such, to use a phrase beloved of the Bush White House, is the cultural aspect of the New American Century. How long, I wonder, before Halliburton and Exxon start sponsoring festivals?
Napster comes along, spreads like wildfire by word of mouth and changes the way people think about recorded music. The RIAA sues them out of existence. Some years later, The Man buys the Napster logo, slaps it onto a sadomasochistically locked-down music-rental library, and engineers a Nike-style pseudo-culture-jamming campaign, with defacement of fake billboards, to give the New Napster some street cred.
For some reason, this makes me think of the JJJ "Enemy of Average" campaign; maybe because both are attempts to market a homogenised corporate turd-in-a-can as somehow "underground" or "subversive".
Crikey looks at the decline of "yoof" broadcaster JJJ; who seem to have all the sterility of commercial radio only without the market savvy; that and the fact that they're run by a bunch of old fogies who think they know what the kids like.
Furthermore, all during the dance music boom of the 90s, it was persistently in love with bad 3-chord 'indie' -- every two bit semi-tone flat nasally singing neo-punk thrash band from Kansas got a run (with their out of focus super-8 film clips wearing out the video machine's heads at Rage HQ) while plenty of excellent locals where overlooked because they didn't fit into the 'format'. They were just interested in the Chart Music that one might find at HMV, so while they had 'dance music' it was typically of the same type you find on other chart stations that would play that sort of thing. Finally dance music runs out of steam and JJJ decides it's time to cash in on that market -- but too late -- and still its moribund music policy changes glacially it appears.
(Ah yes; "JJJ" used to almost be a genre in the 1990s, signifying naff post-grunge yoof-rock, of the sort labels like Mushroom churned out by the bucketload. That and songs with drug references and the word "fuck" in them, because that's naughty and goes well with hormonal rebellion.)
Perhaps the best demonstration of this is a couple of years ago when new rock was at its unfortunate zenith, and JJJ responded by playing stock standard Triple M new rock, interposed with the odd wigger anthem and one particularly unfortunate track from the Bomb Funk MCs called 'Freestyler' and the occasional modern classic. The mixture was clearly calculated to offend each and every listener in some way. In some sets the mix was so inappropriate it was as if Classic FM ground to a halt half way through an opera and unleashed Eminem.
(via The Fix)
A Grauniad piece on punk rocker Avril Lavigne, who seems to be some sort of Alanis for the wallet-chain set or something.
The four punk rockers have been trying to school Lavigne on what she should listen to. "For her birthday, I got her [AC/DC's] Back in Black, the Clash singles and the new Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - your straightforward rock & roll, your punk and your pop punk," says bassist Charlie Moniz, the resident indie-rock connoisseur. Brann gave her a copy of Nirvana's Nevermind. And Colburn gave her the Smashing Pumpkins's Siamese Dream and some Pixies albums."I started her off with the more palatable ones, like Monkey Gone to Heaven," he says. "Then I give her Debaser, and she's like, 'I don't know about that.'"
Reid contends that "there are no guys in suits that can manufacture artists like Avril Lavigne. I wish there were. God knows the record business needs them right now."
She may not be manufactured (according to the article she was singing for a while before LA Reid (of LA and Babyface, who were the Stock/Aitken/Waterman of 80s R&B) snapped her up and made her into a star), but it's apparent that any association between her and any sort of "punk" tropes is entirely artificial; even more so than for the usual mook bands whose members weren't born when Sid killed Nancy. Mind you, if she didn't have this gimmick, she'd probably not get anywhere other than small clubs and open-mike nights, and some other malleable giglet would be storming the Top 40 in her place.
(It seems these days that everybody has forgotten Jello Biafra's maxim that "punk means thinking for yourself", and it has become just another form of rebellion-through-aspirational-consumerism. Or maybe not even so much rebellion, at least not of any form that leads to questioning, soul-searching and finding one's own identity, but merely a mindless outlet for excess testosterone, like video games or backyard wrestling.)
Proof that "punk" has lost whatever meaning it may have once had: the "pro-life" hardcore punk movement; that's right, pierced, blue-haired people moshing and militating for reimposition of traditional sex roles and moral values. The signifiers of punk have been completely disconnected from the radical social causes they signified.
JUST ANOTHER Sunday night punk rock concert. But these kids are wearing bright red sweat shirts inscribed with the words I Survived on the front and Over 1/3 Of Our Generation Has Been Wiped Out on the back.
Those ever-tasteful thirtysomething teenagers Limp Bizkit have released a violent moshpit game, in which you have to avoid "security goons" and getting killed in the pit. Is it any wonder that frontman Fred Durst became Senior Vice President of teen-rebellion sausage factory Interscope, the brand which brought you Snoop Doggy Dogg, NIN and Marilyn Manson, brought goth and gangsta rap to the seething, bored, mall-lurking masses of suburban teenage America and then single-handedly manufactured the "mook" subculture, combining the ugliest sides of jock, goth, metalhead and hip-hop into one mall-ready packaged lifestyle product? (link via Virulent Memes / Lev)