Friday, May 27, 2011

A Friday Rant About Authenticity

We've made it to FRIDAY FRIDAY and it feels great. However, I'm a little scarred this morning from discovering that the same folks who brought us FRIDAY FRIDAY have created another little gem called HOOKED ON YOU. It's surreal and bizarre and is another cultural indicator that we are, indeed, in the end times. It is disturbing. The kid looks cute, the video work is decent, the execution of the digital music tracks are spot on - but it is so fake that I find myself having visions of an Orwellian universe consisting of nothing but Hostess Cupcakes, frozen Bourbon Chicken in a Tyson's bag and instant coffee. And powdered coffee creamer. You know, fake stuff. Poor substitutes for the real thing.

I'm not sure why music like this becomes so popular - is there an element of our culture that really likes shallow lyrics and digital loops of meaningless chord movement? Or are we all just laughing at ourselves? Are we all in on the joke?

I hope so.

Along those lines, here's a piece of cultural observation that I think is brilliant. As disgusting as some of these photos and images are - and as much as I am embarrassed by and for some of these people - I can't help but watch this video and feel my heart swell with pride. Call me crazy, but only in America could you see this sort of thing in public.

I love this country.

And the reason why this video is entertaining and brilliant and gives me warm fuzzies, while Hooked On You and Friday make me want to barf?

It's real. 

Reality works. No matter how ugly or embarrassing, what is will work.

Want to make a clever cultural statement? Want to create three minutes of 21st century contemporary art?  Want to try to be cute and get my attention? Don't manufacture something sickly sweet and try to sell it to us as truth. You might catch my eye, provoke me to tell my friends and get 150 million hits on youtube, but it's empty and non-redemptive.

Show me a man in a skirt with a beer gut, passed out in the beer aisle at Walmart and write a repetitive, clever lyric about that.

I'm not sure it's redemptive - except to remind us all of our common, base humanity (which is the first step towards redemption, I think) - but brought into a rhythmic and melodic structure, it works. As art, it works. Nasty tattoos, a middle-aged man in a clown costume, women with insufficient fabric covering their rear - write a song about that.

Because that is real. It may not rhyme, it may be filthy, it may be beyond all comprehension, and you might not want The People of Walmart as dinner guests - but it's true. 

And truth trumps all.

Behold, on this Friday, a special treat: The People of Walmart.




And if this isn't enough for you, check out the People of Walmart website. But don't overdo it on American authenticity....you might be overwhelmed...

2 comments:

Brian C. Hughes said...

Wow...I'm glad that the Powhatan Community didn't see that video before the WalMart vote. I think that would have doomed it. Seriously, they don't have a 'shirt and shoes required' policy?

I agree with you about the cultural issue and authenticity. That hooked on you video bores me to death - the story line, the lyrics and the music itself. It's all predictable and cheesy. I'd rather have less flash and more reality.

Loved your comments.

Connie K. said...

I couldn't even get through the Hooked on You video. Been there, seen it, heard it all before. The kid doesn't even have an original hairstyle.

I did watch the People of Walmart all 6:45 minutes...hard to tear oneself away from a freak show, I suppose, and the tune was catchy and clever. She was a little self serving at the end but yes, she seems authentic in her indie-girl way.

Give me a self produced, quirky video that taps into the ridiculousness of humanity in all its glory. Let's laugh at ourselves even as we laugh at each other. Better any day than producing yet another version of a slick lie, having some underage kid sing/act it out, and selling it as cool and original.