For more than a year, Lady Gaga has tried to outdo herself every day.
Her schtick – wearing next-to-nothing, strutting in super-high platforms
and childishly outlandish gear. Yawn.
She showed up at a baseball game and flashed her middle finger. Double yawn.
The overwhelming response to the news that she may have dressed up as a man for Vogue Hommes Japan? Shrug.
This is 2012.
We’ve seen Hendrix burn guitars, Sid Vicious shoot his girlfriend and OD to death. It was dazzling then. It’s just sad and boring now. Rock n roll died a long time ago with Kurt Cobain. And it’s not coming back.
I don’t claim to be an expert on music but I’m pretty ok-ok on my lowbrow pop culture and I can tell you this. Rule-breaking is so seventies, man. Once you’ve done it, it’s done.
It’s boring if you try to keep replicating that. It’s like the Hindi film industry’s laughable experiment with turning Shahid Kapoor into a clone of the young SRK. They’ve got him imitating his mannerisms, his wardrobe, even his corny arms outstretched signature move. Presumably this is Shahid Kapoor’s lizard brain telling him to do it, or his marketing people.
But enough about Bollywood. Let’s go back to talking about rock.
Rock should have died in the late eighties but marketing kept it alive a decade longer when Eddie Vedder’s ‘Ten’ and Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ delivered the defribillator shock the industry needed. Suddenly it looked immortal. It seemed like the ultimate marketing formula to youth.
Youth = angst = rebellion
Rebellion = rule breaking
Cue long-haired hippie variations, glam rock, punk rock – the ingredients are the same. A long-haired, unhygienic, often skinny young man or woman asking you to fuck the system. Let’s do something to piss off your Dad.
It’s just Marketing. It’s the Magic Formula.
Bill Bernbach said this in the Fifties.
“However much we like advertising to be a science – because life would be simpler that way – the fact is that it is not. It is a subtle, ever-changing art, defying formulization, flowering on freshness, and withering on imitation; where what was effective one day, for that very reason will not be effective the next, because it has lost the maximum impact of originality.”
1. Now remove the word ‘advertising’ from the quote.
2. Replace it with ‘popular culture’.
3. Read it again.
This is why rock is dead.
This is also why most ‘avant-garde’ art bores me.
Fountain, a urinal placed on exhibit by Marcel Duchamp, a pioneer of the form, in 1917. In 2004, Fountain was selected in a survey of 500 artists and critics as the most influential work of modern art.
Orgies of Mystery Theatre, by Hermann Nitsch, a display of music and dance in the midst of “dismembered animal corpses”, at 1966’s Destruction in Art Symposium
Piss Christ, 1987, by Andres Serrano a photograph of a crucifix submerged in the artist’s own urine.
Artist Rick Gibson made a pair of earrings with freeze-dried human fetuses (Human Earrings – 1987), publicly ate a slice of human tonsil (A Cannibal in Walthamstow – 1988) and human testicle (A Cannibal in Vancouver – 1989 and proposed to make a diptych with a squashed rat (Sniffy the Rat – 1990)
In 1996 Gottfried Helnwein painted the Adoration of the Magi with Adolf Hitler as Baby Jesus, which was displayed at the State Russian Museum St. Petersburg, the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Denver Art Museum, Museum Ludwig and others.
And then, just when you thought it was dead, along comes Damien Hirst with sliced cow immersed in formaldehyde that became the iconic work of British art in the 1990s, and the symbol of Britart worldwide.
And he’s been dining on this gravy train ever since. Making skulls out of diamonds and whatever.
How long will this go on, I wonder?
This attempt to formulize rebellion is corny, dumb and most importantly, it’s uncool. People will get wise to it, sooner or later. Until then, if you see a long-haired anarchist musician or come across an artist making stuff with his faeces or Hitler’s pubes or something, do me a favour. Although it’s tempting, don’t kick him in the testicles. He wants you to. He’ll probably write a song or make a conceptual art piece about the experience.
Just keep walking. Nothing to see here.