Consumption Junction: The Cultural Significance of Britney’s Ass

I caught this post on Tech Crunch and in light of the hilarity of the 2007 VMA’s recently I thought it’d be appropriate to expound my opinion on a couple of things (btw, my opinion is awesome). I’ll first address the Arousal Industry’s latest blundervestment: making ringtones available on CD and selling them as ‘Ringle’s.’ If you haven’t followed the rapidly declining sales of the dinosaur-wearing-gucci-industry into the rabbit hole of failure you’ll know that these gentle giants and habitual employment curtailers are scrambling for the next best thing to supplement their bottom line. For that they have thought long and hard while on the toilet, squeezing out a seared ahi and quail egg champagne shit as the collective stone was passed from urethra, chinking on the porcelain, inspiring the latest money maker – The Ringle.

 

To the uninitiated or layperson, basically the ‘Ringle’ will, “contain three songs: one popular track, a remix, an older track from the same artist and a ringtone.” The distro method will be a “CD with a slip-sleeve cover.” If you’re smashing your balls with a meat tenderizer right now (or if you are a female, feel free to smash your nipple or equivalent in a desk drawer) in light of that news, well, you’ve been paying attention to the comings and goings of the music industry. If not, don’t despair. This can still be considered one of those ‘what the fuck’ moments. The first of those will be a single from recently re-celebritized Britney Spears, her song; “Gimme More” is already testing really well in the major markets. Sony and Universal are going to pump titles into the stream this fall and they’ll be available at your favorite wallet raping store. The propensity for continued revenue loss in the face of continued bad decision making isn’t as appalling as the fact they’re going to sell singles by CD. CD??? Or is Britney’s gunt more appealing packaged as a pitch corrected ringtone. I dunno.

 

Okay.

So now that your brain has come to a nice simmer and your eyes are bleeding a bit, drool slowly congealing somewhere on your shirt or blouse, hands limply at your sides, legs prostrate beneath you, a jolt of pop narcotic will bring you back. A shot to the jugular with a syringe full of excitement – a glass pipe filled with potent crystallized entertainment – a tincture of attention drawing, edge of your seat mayhem filled with blinking lights, celebrity and pageantry. For the kingdom of your brain we present the 2007 VMA’s. A nightmare ride into The Palms casino/hotel in Las Vegas for an amalgam of hyper stylized vampiric pop-lust orgy of coordinated chaos – presented by Chevrolet. That’s right. America’s car company. The company that brought you the Tahoe, and the tagline “An American Revolution.” AND John-fucking-Mellancamp leaning his jackboot on the fender of a truck while a montage of ‘life style images’ flood the screen. Look! Some sepia toned portraiture of African Americans that look doggedly low income smiling bravely for the high paid photographer, middle-American white folks ‘eating’ hot dogs, and team sports! Yes. Chevy has now taken it upon themselves to sell us cars by insinuating that this whole “save the world thing” is a punch line for some smog breathing fat cats with pockets full of cash.

 

Those genius marketers at MTV and Chevy teamed up for what they’re marketspeak calling a, “…Superserve Key 12-34 demographic with creative integration and multiplatform innovation campaign.” Essentially, they’ll use the power of their marketing muscle and advertising budget to sponsor something that MTV knows is well worth every penny for hooking new consumers. So they show a series of seemingly Eco-friendly spots. The spots are kinduh irreverent, edgy; MTV’s demo will totally jibe with this posish. (WOW 30MPG on highway! I can hear dolphins singing as baby seals swim in crystal clear water and unicorns shit rainbows).

 

This is part of MTV and Chevy’s “Break the Addiction” campaign, which sadly promotes the benefits of Flex Fuel or E85 and touts their continued development Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Want to know about E85? Click here.

 

MTV has always been the bane of my entertainment consumption. They’ve had some good shows and of course they used to play those dinosaurs of the entertainment dietary pyramid, THE MUSIC VIDEO but if the fact they’ve been dictating youth cultures taste in music doesn’t make you vomit your righteous indignation instantly, these commercials will. One example in particular is a scene of a young woman with dyed hair, fairy-winged, and glossy eyed. Hers is a character meant to exemplify some green friendly tree hugging marijuana addict blowing a tune into some plastic bottles strung together while a voice mockingly says something like “You can still save the environment without having to drive an ugly car you little sheep.”

 

And this brings me to Britney Spears ass. It has always been a shining example of slutty suburban chicks everywhere. Her ass is insignificant. Her music represents an industry’s reliance on tone corrected voices. It is robotic. She is ubiquitous. You could interchange her with Rhianna and only by ear you’d never know the difference. The reason she and Rhianna lip synced their shitty songs was because in the fantasy world MTV has made for viewers and the public, they’ve instituted a zero tolerance policy on imperfection. This is smoke and mirrors. It’s no wonder Viacom’s ad agency shares similar tactics as the US government’s agency that handles all of their “Be Army Strong” campaigns, or Chevy’s highly insidious and clever “Break the Addiction” campaign.

 

Britney Spears showed us all that you can sound like a robot, dance like a star in a giant production but if you gain just five pounds you can lose all credibility. She also showed the world our addiction to perfection through her socially imposed imperfections. Break the addiction of what? Oil? Bad performances and MTV? Soon we’ll see teen stars, weighing 90 lbs., chain smoking Marlboro Reds, eating a leaf of ice burg lettuce a day, while a Ringle from Mastodon plays “Holiday in Cambodia” on my sweet new iPhone. Chevy and British Petroleum will be champions of the Green movement and George Bush will go down in history as one of the most thoughtful presidents in history.

 

This isn’t science fiction.

 

This isn’t the future.

 

This is the perpetual “What the Fuck?”

The Morgue Called, They Want To Use Your Cadaver “For Study”

The first time I met Justin Pearson I was just getting started with a project, a website called themusicedge.com. The intention of it was to be this hub of youth culture that the music products industry could dip its marketing muscle [read:balls] into and reap the benefits of kids going out and buying truckloads of instruments and products – a hilarious and immeasurable goal – perpetrated by a bunch of business suit attired has-beens and wannabees who thought that an asshole such as myself with some experience in music journalism could bring some gravitas to the fledgling site. They were right. To an extent. We hovered at 30K visitors a month and were an official Webby Award Honoree for 2006 (woo hoo…). Of course those accolades fell on deaf ears, or rather ears that wouldn’t know that the web would surpass radio for ad spend in 2007. Does hindsight count if you were blind behind?

At first I was enthusiastic about it. To endeavor to bring the beauty of making music to a generation whose art and music programs were being cut by an administration obsessed with war was enticing. I took the pill. I jumped right in. I wanted to make things change. That was the optimism of a post 9/11 job out of college (not right out of college, more like 2 years later) for me. I must stress that there were more good things that came from that experience than negative, one of them being my growing friendship with Justin Pearson of The Locust. He was the first “Big Interview” I did for the site. He believed in the propaganda that I believed in, but part of me thought he believed in the fact that artists that don’t chart and don’t move units should have an opportunity to be heard. Sort of an “I like their aesthetic. So I want to share it with everyone,” thing, right?

The last interview I did with Justin marked another benchmark. It was the first for HYPEzine.com. A project basically run by two dudes and supplemented by about 20 of the most amazing and loyal writers and friends a hack editor could ever ask for. Below is a link to the last lengthy post post from a guy that was probably born ten years too late into a world that is as unforgiving as it is beautiful and absurd.

You will get an inkling of what the ‘music business’ is all about – from the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry couldn’t be a more apt title for Justin Pearson’s tour diary. Part of me wishes he’d have continued in the face of all the terrible things he is going through (gone through), and part of me is glad he’s done writing for now. He’s incredibly prolific. If anything just to continue to document what it is REALLY like. The pieces themselves were quite amazing and honest. These paragraph-less musings on life on the road where a bit of a bitch to get through when editing. Nevertheless an amazing account.

Not traveling in a giant fucking tour bus, staying in 3 and 4 star hotels, having everything and everyone tell you that you matter. Fuck that. Its the real deal.

Here is an awesome picture taken by Robin Locust.

Studio Time

Sunday, June 10, 2007
Worked on Mongos drums for about 2.5 hours, since he is the primadonna of the band (not really). Dan Maier, engineer extradordinaire, got some great tones but Marks new yamaha kick sounded a little flubby so we switched it out for the studio (Audio Design) DW kick. Sounded way better and more punchy. Then we traded out his snare cause it was a little reverby, even though it’s a killer live snare it wasn’t attacking as well on tape. Oh yeah, Dan had a reel of 2 inch he graciously donated to the Cabrones for our 7 song EP. Man, I forgot how amazing tape sounds from studio monitor speakers, like a wool blanket in a Denver blizzard with a raging fire and a cup of Irish Cocoa. Running through the Otari MTR 90 Tape Machine and a API 2488 Board. Fast forward a few hours and we set up the vintage Ampeg V4B (1973), pushing through a 68-69′ 8×10 cab, with a Fulltone Bass Drive for extra grit, I used my slightly moded Fender Jazz Bass. It was super gritty at first but I scaled back the drive cause we didn’t want it to sound like another guitar, which was a good thing. Bob ran through his classic set-up; a musicman 2×12, a 100 watt 80’s Marshall JMP and a Morely signal splitter, using a Gibson Faded SG for rhythm and a G&L ASAT Classic for lead(s). We started with “Learn” and ended with “Silencio” and in between we ran about 3 takes per song, with the exception of “Silencio,” yeah we nailed that in one. I punched in twice and so did Bob. Late in the night after a few beers and winding down we decided to dump the tape to digital so we could do more in post. Today it seems to be working a lot better but with all that room for mistakes we’re taking too much time redoing vocals. Leo sounds rad though. Nailed all the songs so far. We’ll have to come up with a different title for the current song. Its kind of obnoxious and doesn’t really work with the actual lyrics of the song. Hope Leandros voice holds out. more later…

So Leo was fucking blasted while trying to lay down vox for “The Searchers,” and his chorus sounded like Kurt Cobain on the nod. A Mexican Kurt Cobain on the nod. He’s got a good style though, sort of sloppy and pissed but good tone. I dig it at least. I did my vox for “The Letdown” and pulled the cajones out and blew out my chords pretty quick. I drank a lot of honey though and it seemed to get me through the rough spots. I tried to channel my inner rage and push it into the song as much as possible. We did the triple threat, “The Searchers,” “The Letdown” and “My Dear Colleagues.” Here are the lyrics I wrote in full, as Leo changed some of them to fit the songs and I’ll have to repost my revision to “The Letdown” but is on my new home computer since The Man is taking his computer back once I leave this cold cube on Friday;

The Searchers
We are the searchers.
Architects of semantic infrastructure
Coded in concrete
Not paper that’ll tear easy.
Men of our word
We commit to the betterment
Of society as a whole
Our subordinates write copy
Boilerplate mission statements
Distributed to all the right folks
And conflict resolution
Is our diplomatic mantra

Memorizing tag lines stepping deftly over razor wire
We communicate, oh we communicate
a message of fire
Shaking hands and kissing babies

My Dear Colleagues
Have you ever worked
a 60-hour week,
At a job you despise,
with every fiber of your being?
Do you ever stop to think
that you’re not alone?
Yeah, you’re not alone
We’re all crumbling
toward the same ending,
Thankless and dying

But you’re not alone man
Sister we’re with you
In the factories and fields,
toiling away
Just to get a sense
of something real

Carve out an existence
To stand tall amidst the giants
One voice to rattle the tyrants

You’re not alone
We’ll be waiting at the end
When the credits role and curtain closes
And the last whistle blows
We’ll be there
You’re not alone.