The Null Device
Charlie "TV Go Home" Brooker rips into Sandi Thom, the bland, suspiciously manufactured-looking "grass-roots Internet sensation" who sings some inane load of bollocks about wishing she was a punk rocker with flowers in her hair or something:
All I hear is that telltale, indefinable something that immediately marks it out as something that's bypassed the soul completely: consumable noise for people who don't like music but know listening to it is "the done thing" - like mutant imposters mimicking the behaviour of humans. I can't relate. It doesn't go. I'm being alienated by the replicants.
There's a word for this sort of thing. It's not "art", it's "content".
Sometimes I can ALMOST see where content is coming from. Take Angels by Robbie Williams. It's a massively popular piece of content, beloved by millions. If I strain really hard, I can just about make out some genuine emotion. Just a speck or two - but enough to make its huge success at least vaguely explicable. Compared with anything that has any semblance of balls whatsoever, Angels is a bowl of cold mud - but next to most content, it's a towering emotional epic. It almost makes you feel something. No wonder it's become the official theme tune for thick people's funerals.Brooker then goes on:
As luck would have it, while typing this article, I've just heard I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Bollocks in My Mouth) on the radio, and the real braintwister is the lyric, in which she yearns for a time "when accountants didn't have control and the media couldn't buy your soul". It's a boneheaded plea for authenticity, sung in the most Tupperware tones imaginable: a fake paean to a pre-fake era. It's giving me vertigo.Which sounds like the totality of the Sandi Thom phenomenon (the song, the soullessly plastic paean to authenticity, the backstory with its transparent contrivedness) could almost be a work of conceptual art in itself. Perhaps it was created by Bill Drummond or some other prankster (much like the Pete Doherty sideshow is said by some to have been; I have heard rumours that the glamorous rock'n'roll nihilist was originally a small-town Buddy Holly impersonator who had been discovered and manufactured into the New Sid Vicious for a prank/art project).
Of course, the problem with creating a work of art such as the manufacture of a transparently, cynically plastic "authentic" pop star is that it is difficult if not impossible to distinguish it from the way a big part of the recording industry normally operates, guided by nothing more self-aware than the cold, insectile logic of marketing and demographic modelling. If some neo-Situationist prankster manufactures a perfectly plastic pop star, indistinguishable from the normal products of the entertainment machine, is it still art?
There's a Neil Gaiman tribute CD coming out soon. It appears to consist of various goth/gothic-interest artists (natch), plus the obligatory Tori Amos track, and a contribution from Stephin Merritt. The foreword is written by a member of emo band My Chemical Romance, presumably to bring in the Hot Topic kids.
(via Boing Boing)
From a glossary of common polyamorist phrases, written by a professional dominatrix from Seattle:
Poly phrase: "So, which conventions do you like to attend, what kind of books do you like to read, what are your spiritual beliefs, and what is your ideal occupation?"(To which one could possibly add "what music are you into?", which would translate roughly as "1980s, EBM, ethereal or darkwave?")
English translation: "Which science fiction conventions do you like to attend, who is your favorite fantasy author, what form of neo-paganism do you ascribe do, and where in the computer industry would you like to work?"
The latest threat to the environment: the fumes from all those burning SUVs, as Americans who have gone into debt on buying personal monster trucks find themselves hit with rising fuel prices and torch them to claim insurance money and buy something smaller.
Vehicle arson has had a long and occasionally humorous track record over the years. In Texas, a car salesman was arrested after offering his customers what he called a "rotisserie program." He would have their cars torched; then, after they collected on the insurance, he sold them a new car. In another part of the state, two students were arrested after they torched their high school teacher's car in exchange for passing grades.
The latest consequence of global warming: starved of food because of longer iceless seasons, polar bears are eating each other.