The Null Device
An interesting article about Travolta's Battlefield Earth and the Scientology connection. (Washington Post, 28/11/1999)
Those darn goth kids at it again: Recently taken down website detailed plans for Columbine-style takeover of a New Jersey high school: (WIRED News)
Plans for the first two days include "collecting weapons" and "disconnecting the speaker system." The site includes plans to take teachers hostage, and mentions some of them by name.
Salon on the dotcom backlash:
The Sams are old-time San Franciscans, having lived in the city by the bay for a good six or seven years; they've seen what the dot-conomy has done to the city's housing prices, traffic and once laid back attitudes. The Sams aren't trying to stop the Internet from ruining San Francisco; they just want to remind people how absurd it is to work like a dog, in a city that is quickly forgetting leisure and humor, for a company that's revolutionizing something as inconsequential as how you purchase toothpaste.
Geek idealism in extremis: Three geeks start a campaign to save Iridium. Now they just need 3 million sponsors and $650 million. (Salon)
The gods of consumerism: Brand mascots, their high priests and their therapists: (Salon)
...sober-suited corporate executives spend their days pondering such ontological questions as: Does the Pillsbury Doughboy actually make the cookies, and if so, are they made from parts of himself? ..."We don't want people to really think about that part," says Ready.)
It's a little disconcerting to discover, after reading marketing documents from Kellogg's, that Snap! Crackle! and Pop! ... have more richly developed inner lives than several of my own friends. From elf dossiers, we learn that Snap! is the oldest and the wisest, "the leader and problem solver" of the bunch. Pop! is the "irrepressible child ... usually the one who pulls gags and gets the 'last word, in the form of a pun.'" Crackle! is that perennially misunderstood "middle child ... [who's] never quite sure of himself, but tries to keep order between the other two.'"
"In the case of the M&Ms, there were three deep pools of potential conflict. One is that they're a duo, with clashing personalities. So there's a certain amount of conflict between them. No. 2, they're small. They're 2-and-a-half-feet tall, slightly clumsy, hard-shelled characters trying to maneuver in a world of humans. No. 3, they are candy-covered chocolates in constant danger of being eaten. Out of these sources of conflict, we have written and produced over 60 spots. And there isn't a dud in the lot."
An Australian TV show looks behind the scenes of a manufactured pop band, created by the TV station, a gossip magazine and the local Warner subsidiary: (The Age)
Of course they'll have hits. Sell out stadiums too, what with all this free publicity. The people up top ... have ensured the media is on the girls' side before they've even recorded a note. How often is it you encounter people who are famous before you even know who they are? We don't even know the name of the group yet.
Perhaps nothing bad happened at all. Could it be that Chantelle's departure was scripted from the out? It makes for a great plottwist. It would be also in keeping with the archmedia manipulation that is required from the creators of every successful manufactured pop group, from Phil Spector's Ronettes through to the Sex Pistols and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, to the Spice Girls.
Here's the main point I want to make. How one generation's definition of what defines a pop star differs from another's. What was great about the Spice Girls was they managed to project the image of five clueless girls having fun, effortlessly escaping the humdrum of reality through dint of their own personalities. It didn't matter if they could sing or dance or turn up to rehearsal on time. And it shouldn't. Pop stars are the antithesis of work. Or they should be.