5 de mayo de 2011

Fame and money

Os dejo partes de un artículo sobre los videos de Lady Gaga. Está bastante interesante y creo que merece la pena echarle una ojeada aunque Gaga te parezca una mamarracha sobrevenerada.

Lady Gaga lays in bed with her nameless boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård, son of Stellan Skarsgård). A little bit of necking ends with her being thrown off a balcony after she notices some paparazzi. She hits the ground hard and blood is clearly visible on the pavement. The paparazzi don't help her. They just take photographs. This scene reminds me of the Mel Gibson film also called Paparazzi which has a similar premise to the "Paparazzi" video except that it's a steaming pile of shit. No one seems to have sympathy for Lady Gaga. The newspapers have changed their tune: "LADY GAGA IS OVER".

The way in which the newspapers turn on Lady Gaga in "Paparazzi" brings to mind what happened to British reality television star Jade Goody. For those living outside the United Kingdom, Jade Goody appeared on the reality television series Big Brother- a show that has George Orwell attempting to slit his wrists in the grave- in 2002 and became famous for being an uneducated and promiscuous drunk. The tabloids ate it up and acted like a bunch of 10-year-old bullies. The year after her appearance on Big Brother the British public voted Jade Goody the fourth worst Briton.

Then something genuinely depressing happened in 2008: Goody, a 27-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed with cervical cancer on television. As Charlie Brooker put it, "the tabloids, which having hurled buckets of misogynistic abuse or eye-swiveling rage over Jade for years, suddenly had to perform a u-turn so huge it was visible from space". Now, there was nothing but sympathy for Goody who had just a year prior been the biggest villain in both the British and Indian press. It was almost as though, amongst all the headlines and vitriolic hatred people had for her, everyone forgot that she was a human being. Goody died on March 22, 2009. Mother's Day.

The "Paparazzi" video is almost like a photo-negative of Jade Goody's public life. The public enjoys watching the destruction of an icon. How did the public react when Britney Spears had a breakdown and was clearly in need of mental health treatment? The same way they reacted when Amy Winehouse appeared strung-out, crying and half-naked on the streets of London. They laughed. The public views these events with an extreme sense of schadenfreude, as though they're getting indirect and vicarious revenge on someone more talented than them. Oh, and of course, Amy Winehouse does it to herself so it's okay to laugh. The Rapefish will hate me for this but I have to quote Nietzsche:

"But what if pleasure and displeasure were so tied together that whoever wanted to have as much as possible of one must also have as much of the other- that whoever wanted to "jubilate up to the heavens" would also have to be prepared for "depression unto death"?".

Michael Jackson's fall from grace isn't the ultimate story of fame dooming someone. That belongs to Princess Diana. She died in an August 1997 car wreck in Paris as she and boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed attempted to escape the paparazzi. As in the video, the paparazzi continued to take pictures of Diana as she lay dying. In a 2009 interview, Lady Gaga said, "Princess Diana is the most devastating and iconic martyr of fame. That woman died because of her fame."


The most surprising aspect of the "Telephone" video for most people is the blatant product placement. And when I say blatant I mean blatant. Some of it makes sense: the Virgin Wireless phone which obviously keeps in theme with the song (they're also a sponsor of Lady Gaga's "The Monster Ball" tour); and the Monster Heartbeats earphones and Polaroid cameras both of which Lady Gaga is involved in the development of.

One product that really sticks out to me is the Diet Coke cans which Lady Gaga wears as hair rollers. This is a different level of product placement. This product isn't just present, it's being physically worn and has become part of an image.
Drink Coke! Did you get it already?
We are used to seeing advertisements in our daily lives and barely register the existence of most of them. They're just part of the background noise of modern life. What's interesting about the backlash against the product placement in "Telephone" is that the products are being shown alongside an act of horrendous violence that would terrorise us if it were real.

We are fascinated with violence. You can try to say you aren't but everyone is. Like consumerism, violence has become a defining part of our culture. We're no more or less violent than any other culture in history. What is different is the access we have to violence. I could find images of people with their heads blown off by shotguns, faces beat in with hammers and bodies mutilated by knives within seconds of searching on the internet. It makes it seem that the West is becoming increasingly violent even though crime rates have fallen dramatically since the 1990s.

I've written about this before but I'll write about it again here. The news likes to tell us that entertainment desensitises us to violence. Naturally, they tell us this just before they show a clip of a woman being attacked by a grizzly bear.

Tonight at 10: How Halo 3 and the Nintendo DS are turning your precious, innocent, impressionable and beautiful children into violent psychopaths hell-bent on torturing you and your pets and your mother and puts them in contact with pedophiles. Also tonight: a man peels off the face of another in the middle of Times Square during rush hour. Footage at 10. 

Bill O'Reilly would probably cum while raging about a video which showed some of the images we are shown on the news daily. He'd say the video was evil, corrupting and unpatriotic because the First Amendment covers being an asshole but not being a controversial artist. I'm surprised that Fox News hasn't picked up on the pornographic video for Rammstein's "Pussy" (another Åkerlund work) seeing as Fox News- especially O'Reilly who was sued for sexually harassing a co-worker- hate the slightest hint of the human body, especially that vile thing known as the female body. The only thing Fox News loves more than ranting about nudity is showing naked women.

I'm just trying to appear on Fox!
"Telephone" is possibly the most violent mainstream music video I have seen in a while. There are no knife-fights or shoot-outs because it's violent in a less obvious way. This is where I was talking about people definitions of violence. It might be because there are simply more dramatic ways to kill people which make poison look like child's play. In short: we've been desensitised. Imagine if Lady Gaga and Beyoncé had walked into the diner with shotguns and shot every patron in the face. Regardless of the method, they have still murdered two dozen people.

Every single act of violence is followed by a dance sequence. Fight in the games room, then dancing. Poisoning your cheating boyfriend, then dancing. Committing mass murder, then dancing. As Lady Gaga poisons the food of the eaters in the diner we hear applause, eager voices and gasps of excitement. Violence is no longer an expression of anger and hatred. Violence is entertainment. Like everything else it's been bastardised and homogenised by commercialism.



During the Super Bowl half-time show in 2004, Justin Timberlake ripped Janet Jackson's outfit and exposed her nipple for nine-sixteenths of a second live on national television. A moral panic ensued. What effect would this have on the nation's children? There were a record number of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission about the incident which lead to fines and clamp-downs on broadcasters.

The fallout was massive. Jackson's career and reputation suffered and some might say she never recovered. Jackson was subject to a witchhunt which may have partially been fuelled by her race and gender. To me it speaks of the subtle racism and sexism that is still present in our society. Of course Jackson was responsible. She is a woman and it was her breast. It never seemed to occur to these people that it was Timberlake's actions that had exposed her breast. It was almost as though they thought Jackson had psychically loosened the threads of her outfit.

As Lewis Black said, "I was with five friends we all thought that what we saw was unusual but we didn't think anything of it. The game came back on and we forgot all about it. Then, the next morning I awoke at eight o'clock and turned on the TV and watched as my beloved country lost its god damn mind... And then Congress, which doesn't do shit, stops on a dime... one-by-one they came on screen late in the day to pontificate about how we were going into a moral sewer; about how this image of a breast at a family half-time show was not only disgusting, it was disturbing, it was shocking, it was indecent. I thought, 'it's just a tit, and none of those adjectives really fucking apply'.

This ties back into what I said about people's immediate reaction to this video. They don't care about the fact that the video is about mass murder. They do care that there's a phone in it. One writer for
The Guardian was apparently so upset by the product placement she went so far as to distort a still from the video which showed the phone by smudging out the logos in a spectacular display of missing the point.

No, no, no, that's not it.
On the wall of prison's games room where the fight takes place there is a message: "NO SWEARING". This is presumably a knock at the strange standards of what people consider offensive. The violence we can show, but profanity? No, that's offensive. I remember Thom Yorke talking about the video for Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" which features self-mutilation and nudity. The self-mutilation was fine by they censored the breasts. Eminem and Dr. Dre's "Guilty Conscience", a song and video which features statutory rape and murder? APPROVED! Björk's "Pagan Poetry", a song and video about the expression of love and sex as something to be considered beautiful? NO, NOT ACCEPTABLE!. Okay, so it's pornographic. It's also art. This reminds me of that Aqua Teen Hunger Force bit about standards and practices (hey, wait a minute). You can murder people just don't say "motherfucker".

People get angry at the small, inconsequential things because the big ones are too complicated and can't be solved with a phone call. There's really not much the average person can do about domestic violence or child abuse or slave labour. The average person can, however, get Jade Goody and Janet Jackson off television.

I find it particularly interesting that the Jackson/Timberlake incident happened during half-time of an American football game: a violent sport filled with liars, cheaters and criminals. On top of that the song that Jackson and Timberlake performed was filled with innuendo (and, ironically, concludes with the line "I'm going to have you naked by the end of this song") and their performance consisted of a disorienting amount of dry humping. Oh, the dry humping. That was fine. But nipples are grotesque and obscene and they're
destroying modern civilisation.

At the end of "Paparazzi", Lady Gaga regains her fame by becoming infamous. This is where these video remind me of the Tarantino-penned, Oliver Stone-directed Natural Born Killers. For those who haven't seen it, a couple of serial killers become a media sensation. People line-up outside the courthouse to catch a glimpse of them and cheer at the sight of them.

This concept of murderers as anti-heroes is a distinctly American phenomena. There is an absolute fascination with murderers in America.  Their faces are shown on television for weeks and every pundit under the sun just has to offer their opinion on what happened and what it means. In the dance sequence in the diner, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé wear outfits similar to those of comic book superheroes Captain America and Wonder Woman. They've become the opposite of what those two are supposed to represent (freedom and justice) while simultaneously representing an equally prevalent idea in American culture.

America is a free country. Wait...we're Japanese...
But wait a minute, isn't Grand Theft Auto IV that game where you beat-up hookers, run-over pedestrians and shoot cops and weren't you just talking about violence in the media? Yes, yes it is and yes, yes I was. Reducing something as beautiful, well-crafted and complex as Grand Theft Auto IV to that is an absolute insult to those who made it, even though they're used to people being close-minded sensationalists about their work. Grand Theft Auto IV, like every game in the Grand Theft Auto series, is a satire of pretty much everything about American culture including gun control, the culture of fear and hedonism.

The thing that most people- including many avid gamers- misunderstand about Grand Theft Auto IV is that it is a satire of violence and violent media. It's satirising a culture where capitalism has gotten so out of control that human life is essentially worthless and other human beings are just obstacles to be defeated on your path to success. Everyone other than the ones at the top are pawns, including the player's character. Useful idiots. They want so badly to achieve the American dream they eat one another alive like crabs in a pot. Grand Theft Auto IV is a nihilistic masterpiece.
...¡Hablando del creacionista de Bill o'Reilly!


(Voy a hacer ahora mismo otra entrada de los mejores memes de Bill O'reilly)

1 comentario:

  1. Es una mamarracha pero me cae bien. Ha hech lo que la da gana y le ha salido bien.