“What does it mean for your art to be accepted by the cultural establishment? It means money, perhaps – new kinds of sponsorship and funding – but in the booming ‘10s, dance music has plenty of that. More importantly, it means credibility. The value of an establishment artform goes largely unquestioned, even by those who don’t care for it (few people, for example, complain with any seriousness about government funding to modern art museums, even if Duchamp’s Fountain leaves them cold). Just as with the ill-advised classical-techno crossovers that crop up every few years, it seems Hawtin would love for a bit of that absolute, unassailable legitimacy to be conferred on his music. This in spite of the fact that his vision for modern-day techno – as essentially just one more functional component in an enormous industrial mechanism – horribly misrepresents the genre and many of those who operate within it.”—Angus Finlayson, review of Plastikman’s EX(FACT Magazine, 2014.07.15)
“Looking at art in the presence of its owners or creators is part of my job. I make it harder for myself by expecting something magical and trying to be candid without being cruel. To avoid crushing hopes, I withhold disapprobation. I say, “This is autobiographical, right?” Or, “Hey, this is really something.” Or, as Gary Indiana once concluded in a review of Sherrie Levine’s work: “If you’ve never seen plywood, you’re in for a treat.””—Dave Hickey, Pirates and Farmers: Essays on Taste (Ridinghouse, 2013), p. 61-62.
But because world-beat is a specialty item that attracts enthusiasts rather than profiteers, the taste, philosophy, and vision of the entrepreneur who oversees the selection are usually what tells. Is he promoting music he has a piece of, or introducing the world to songs he loves no matter who owns them? How much talent does he have for consistency, pace, flow? Would he know a good beat if it bit him in the ass? And most important, does he believe in cultural purity, commercial crossover, or some smarter, more complex aesthetic? Overestimate people’s ability to transcend their musical assumptions and your records will bore everybody this side of a ethnomusicology convention. But underestimate your audience like the rest of the culture biz and your music will magically fuse the lamest of both worlds.
Planet Africa, from South African producer Hilton Rosenthal’s Rhythm Safari imprint, does just that. It leans heavily on laboriously Euro-friendly material from world-beat celebs like Salif Keita and Johnny Clegg, who whatever their individual gifts are too idiosyncratic to mesh much. And although the cover of Music for the World’s Africa on the Move boasts artists from Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, peruse label-owner Bob Haddad’s notes after you’ve paid for 45 minutes of strangely directionless music and learn that three of them now reside in the U.S., news that explains the album’s title, concept, and failure. Listen to the instrumental disc put together by world-clothing honcho Dan Storper, the man behind Rhino’s two Putamayo Presents The Best of World Music releases, and think evil thoughts about “tolerance” as theft: this is world music as flaccid new-age relaxathon, white folkies exploiting nonwhite instruments and techniques in the service of unthreateningly exotic aural wallpaper.
“American pop culture leaves little room for mixed feelings, thereby inciting mixed feelings every step of the way. No wonder filmmakers and TV producers like Steven Spielberg and Matthew Weiner have inserted the ambient glee of Saturday-morning cartoons and radio D.J.s gasping over sunny weather in order to conjure foreboding and suspense. The hopeful words of wisdom inscribed on a tea bag take on the weight of an omen; the funeral dirge and the bubbly pop anthem eventually start to sound like the same song.”—This is one of the best things I’ve read all year. (via katherinestasaph)
We are the first nonprofit investigative newsroom in the German-speaking world. Our goal is to give citizens access to information. We are one of the many answers to the media crisis. The old models of business are losing effectiveness. At the same time, journalists need to find better ways of explaining an increasingly complex world. Publishers are shutting down newspapers or cutting their budgets. Digital media has not been able to make up for this loss. The media has trouble fulfilling its watchdog role. CORRECT!V aims to change this: we want to make investigative and informative journalism affordable and accessible to media organizations throughout Germany.
“A few years ago in Toronto, I attended a screening, in a packed auditorium, of a horror movie called Hell Night (1981), one of the innumerable progeny of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980). The film itself was about as uninteresting as it is possible for a cultural product to be: the audience, which consisted largely of teenagers, was remarkable. It became obvious at a very early stage that every spectator knew exactly what the film was going to do at every point, even down to the order in which it would dispose of its various characters, and the screening was accompanied by something in the nature of a running commentary in which each dramatic move was excitedly broadcast some minutes before it was actually made. The film’s total predictability did not create boredom or disappointment. On the contrary, the predictability was clearly the main source of pleasure, and the only occasion for disappointment would have been a modulation of the formula, not the repetition of it. Everyone had parted with his/her four bucks in the complete confidence that Hell Night was a known quantity and that it would do nothing essentially different form any of its predecessors. Everyone could guess what would happen, and it did happen. In the course of the evening, art had shrunk to its first cause, and on coming out of the theater, I had the incongruous sense of having been invited to participate in communion.”— Andrew Britton, “Blissing Out: The Politics of Reaganite Entertainment” (Movie 31/32, winter 1986). Reprinted in Britton on Film: The Complete Film Criticism of Andrew Britton (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008), p. 96-154.
3) Subway commercial for Dijon Horseradish Melt (Fox Sports Net, July 13)
One “Jim” (“a Dennis Miller-type of guy who tells it like it is,” says Subway publicist Les Winograd) pulls up to a burger joint in a car full of buddies. He’s about 40, tall, well exercised: “Turkey breast, ham, bacon, melted cheese, Dijon horseradish sauce,” he says in the drive-through, exuding an aura of Supermanship all out of proportion to the situation. “That’s, like, not on our menu,” says the young, pudgy, confused person taking orders. “It’s not only not on your menu,” Jim says, “it’s not on your radar screen!” “Do we have a radar screen?” the clerk asks a supervisor as Jim peels out. “Think I made that burger kid cry?” Jim says to his pals, all of them now ensconced in a Subway with the new Select specials in front of them.
It seems plain that, finally, George W. Bush is making himself felt in culture. The commercial takes Bush’s sense of entitlement — which derives from his lifelong insulation from anything most people eat, talk about, want or fear, and which is acted out by treating whatever does not conform to his insulation as an irritant — and makes it into a story that tries to be ordinary. But the story as the commercial tells it is too cruel, its dramatization of the class divisions Bush has made into law too apparent. The man smugly laughing over embarrassing a kid is precisely Bush in Paris attempting to embarrass a French-speaking American reporter for having the temerity to demonstrate that he knew something Bush didn’t. (Real Americans don’t speak French.) Even someone responsible for putting this talisman on the air may have flinched at the thing once it was out there in the world at large, functioning as public discourse, as politics — the last time I saw the spot, the final punchline had been dropped.
“The constant sexualization of female images in magazines like Vice, the AA ads, and Terry Richardson’s photography created a false binary; if you couldn’t tolerate it, you must be a square. To be offended was to condemn sexual freedom entirely, even if all you were offended by was that the nudity focused on pretty young women to the exclusion of everyone else. The best you could do was to be indifferent and wait for it to pass. It’s confusing but common that someone can be incredibly transgressive and intelligent on some fronts and remain willfully dumb about others. Vice has become a much more diverse magazine since the McInnes years, but the overall aesthetics have not changed a tremendous amount.”—Molly Lambert, “No Country for Old Pervs: The Fall of the Houses of Terry Richardson and Dov Charney" (Grantland, 2014.06.26)
“Pharoahe Monch: I was cutting the grass in my front yard when I got served legal papers. I thought, “Holy shit!” But I finished cutting the grass—I’m cool like that. There was nothing I could do right now so I might as well make the grass look nice.”—
Phillip Mlynar, “The Oral History of Rawkus Records” (MySpace, April 17, 2014)