Home | Away

Fun random assignment of the day

In a few minutes, someone from BBC News is going to call me to ask me what I think of these:

The general subject is “selling out”—a topic about which, as you already know, I am emphatically and determinedly ambivalent.  I mean, these are pretty seriously disturbing on so many levels.  On the other hand, I kinda perversely loved the idea of using “Lust for Life” in ads for Carnival Cruise Lines Royal Caribbean [thanks for the correction, O anonymous commenter @ 34!  fie on me for misremembering this], because when I was a wee thing I used to work in advertising and marketing and such, and I imagined the meeting in which someone pitched to Carnival’s reps the idea of using a song that goes,

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And the flesh machine
He’s gonna do another strip tease.
Hey man, where’d ya get that lotion?
I’ve been hurting since I’ve bought the gimmick
About something called love
Yeah, something called love.
Well, that’s like hypnotizing chickens.

Well, I’m just a modern guy
Of course, I’ve had it in the ear before.
I have a lust for life
Cause I’ve a lust for life.

I’m worth a million in prizes
With my torture film
Drive a GTO
Wear a uniform
All on a government loan.
I’m worth a million in prizes
Yeah, I’m through with sleeping on the sidewalk
No more beating my brains
No more beating my brains
With liquor and drugs,
With liquor and drugs.

And so on, right to the lunch buffet, the waterslide, and the miniature golf.  It’s the Cognitive Dissonance Special!

Hey, I feel an ABF Friday coming on!  Let me know what you think of these things, and of “selling out” (if there is such a thing), and I’ll be back tomorrow with a response of some kind.  Which will be brought to you by Monsanto, proud sponsor of American Airspace since 1985.

Posted by on 02/19 at 08:18 AM
  1. I kind of think it’s cognitive concordance. Is wanton use of liquor, drugs, and sex really that different from overfeeding thousands of obese people atop a floating city that uses a gazzillaton of fuel every day?

    Posted by Librarian@Play  on  02/19  at  10:44 AM
  2. uh, shit, Friday already?
    Doesn’t “selling out” connote some kind of hypocrisy? Has anyone ever thought of Iggy Pop as an icon of anticommercialism? I suspect that if anyone had wanted to give the Stooges any money back in the day, they probably would have accepted it.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  11:09 AM
  3. You’ll know that we’re really “there” when they use old GG Allin footage for Disneyland ads.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  11:10 AM
  4. I’m with Sven - Iggy’s never really been an anti-commercialism advocate.  I believe he even openly admitted (as did Bowie) that they wrote “Little China Girl” simply because they needed money (hard to imagine why “Lust for Life” and “The Stranger” hadn’t done so well in the mid- to late-70s).

    Furthering the anti-commercialist stance issue, too, I remember reading somewhere several years ago (probably in a Time, and probably in a dentist’s office) about artists “selling out” now by having their songs used in iPod commercials, car commercials, etc., and how their grunge brethren “never would have done such a thing.” Several of the artists pointed out, though, that accepting $100,000 or whatever for a car commercial helped them to stay on independent record labels, giving them greater artistic liberties.  I don’t know if that means it’s a virtue or not (or, if it’s even “selling out” - like Michael, I’m firmly ambivalent on the issue).  But I think pre-occupations with “authenticity” based on whether you tried to make money from your endeavors or not are a bit naive, too.

    That said, the above commercials are really, really weird.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  11:15 AM
  5. Everybody says they’re Punk Rock. But when the record company comes a-knockin’, they all end up inkin’ that deal. (First person to invoke Ian MacKaye gets a ride on my boot.)

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  11:25 AM
  6. Taking my cue from my captcha word “cars”, I think that Jackson Browne probably gets an honorable mention here.

    If you review Rock and Roll history you will find it was Mick Jagger who pretty much started it in a big way. His finance background has served him well.

    e.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  11:59 AM
  7. oh yeah and.... “all my friends turned out to be insurance salesmen.”—John Prine ‘Illegal Smile’

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  12:02 PM
  8. But fortunately, I have the key…

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  12:26 PM
  9. "I used to be Zep fan until I heard their music selling cars and now I hate ‘Black Dog,’” is the equivalent to “I used to be a liberal but after 9-11 I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick.”

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  12:36 PM
  10. My favorite was a VW commercial that used Psychic TV’s “Roman P.” The lyrics, about Polanski and the murder of Sharon Tate. They used the section, “Are you free? Are you really free?...” Nothing like statutory rape and race war to sell the wagon of the volk.

    When it came out on a VW album called Street Mix, I reread Commodify Your Dissent.

    Posted by Matt  on  02/19  at  12:39 PM
  11. I used to get all tied up in knots over selling out (must be my grunge upbringing) but these days, as I shop my novel around looking for someone to buy my work, I’m coming to appreciate the idea. And if I were a musician, definitely.  make a ton of money for selling something I’ve already made so I can go on to make other things I want and not starve? Yes please!

    Posted by Keith  on  02/19  at  12:44 PM
  12. On the topic of “selling out,” I’d really like to say that I’m less ambivalent about the idea of selling out than you seem to be. I’d like (believe it or not) to be a strong advocate for taking profits (if one can do so relatively responsibly).  The whole notion that anyone actually can “sell out” smacks of Christian meekness to me (in the worst possible way). In fact, I think that notion serves to legitimize “artistic” suffering, and in the context of the tendency of the (English) music business to deify very young people that’s doubly disconcerting. Do we want these people to end up like GG Allin? Kurt Cobain?

    Everyone who is not independently wealthy or otherwise on the margins of our (Western) society is basically forced to participate in a global system of exchange, selling their ideas, their work, their image, their labor, etc. to survive and hopefully thrive. How is art different? As Keith seems to suggest, artistic freedom isn’t actually free....

    That said, personally, my actions seem extremely resistant to the notion of “selling out”. In my spare time, I run a small online literary magazine. For that magazine, I’ve adamantly refused to do anything other than lose money on it. It, to my mind, functions outside of capitalism: the magazine takes no advertising, does not seek donations or government support, and does not accept any fees for re-use in appropriate settings (i.e., libraries).

    To me, that’s the key: you can’t sort of participate in the system. Doing something like that is like setting yourself up to be taken advantage of financially like Little Richard and countless other stars of the 50s and 60s were.  After all, it’s the endless inclusiveness of the system that made it seem (until recently) so remarkably flexible and strong.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  02:25 PM
  13. I don’t really care about selling out, but I have friends that think it’s a big deal.  And I vaguely remember caring about it when I was in my late teens and early twenties. 

    I enjoy Tool’s take on the charge in their song “Hooker with a Penis.” It’s sung as a response to being told by someone that they were selling out.  It’s got some humor focusing on the absurdity of someone steeped in consumerism accusing another of selling out:  “I met a boy wearing Van’s, 501s, and a dope Beastie Tee, nipple rings, new tattoos...and in between sips of Coke, he told me that he thought we were selling out, laying down, sucking up to the man.” But it also addresses the reality of the business:  “All you know about me is what I sold you, dumb fuck.  I sold out long before you ever even heard my name.  I sold my soul to make a record, dipshit, and now you bought one.” The chorus just emphasizes the point that pretty much anyone participating in American (if not any industrialized national) culture is a sell-out, i.e., “the man.”

    With the internets, it may become easier to produce and distribute music without a contract from a label--thereby making “sell-out” less of a hypocritical accusation--but I think it’s still largely the case that if you’ve heard the name of a band, that band has already sold out.  And if the band has already sold out, who cares if they continue to do so or somehow become bigger sell outs (whatever that may mean).

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  02:58 PM
  14. Who was the first artist to be called out for “selling out”?  I suppose when it was all based on patronage, you could hardly _not_ sell out, because, like, that was precisely the point.

    captcha word, srsly:  “history.”

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  03:11 PM
  15. Like Rembrandt, who painted to pay the rent, most of these artists have been in the business to make money. For those who haven’t (or said they weren’t), what’s interesting is the survival of intellectual property into the twilight years. Many of those who once espoused anarcho-syndicalism never actually gave up their rights, so they can assert them to make house payments, child support, etc. What about those who can’t do that, who did actually sign away all the rights to their music? Why are they usually nonwhite while the ones who still have the rights to license, who can sell out, are mainly white?

    Most of the confusion over content and application (or competing and conflicting associations)--addiction/cruises or rape/VWs--is related not directly to selling out but to schizophonia and is much more common than one might think.

    Captcha: “idea,” as in the idea that a sound can be split from its original context of production and enjoy a life of its own, freely associating with contrary meanings, but that it never gives up that original meaning either. (Steven Feld in Public Culture)

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  03:24 PM
  16. I dunno, I think there is definitely a latent variable called “selling out.” I can understand the “I need a pile of money so I can create my art” argument, but there has got to be a line somewhere. There are certain companies and industries that I absolutely cannot stand and doing a commercial or endorsing a product I hate strictly for the money would be to tap the latent variable, in my humble opinion.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  03:30 PM
  17. how about “would tap the latent variable.”

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  03:33 PM
  18. Yeah, the idea that Iggy Pop was some kind of icon of resistance to commerce is a bit off, I think.  As I said to the BBC reporter (who was great), everyone who talks about this ritually cites a certain guy named in comment # 5 above, but really, when we’re talking about rock and pop and even punk, we’re not talking about finely hand-crafted woodworks that people are carving in their basements solely for the use and appreciation of their families.  The stuff is (to coin a phrase) always already commercial, and the only question is the degree of its commerciality:  who gets paid what for what and to what end.

    But nevertheless, at least since the Romantics there have been these coteries and subcultures (and Blake, for his part, basically was making hand-crafted objects in his basement) that think of commercial success as artistic failure—or that never imagine it as a possibility and are correspondingly horrified when millions of people show up and say, “actually, your stuff totally rocks!  can you make more of it?” And these ads register their anxiety about this in two ways:  one, when Mr. Pop says, in ad # 2, that he’s “not selling car insurance—I’m selling time,” and two, in both ads, when the written phrase “get a life” features that well-known and beloved-by-millions anarchy symbol.  These ads know perfectly well that a certain we-was-punk demographic will be mightily pissed off by the sight of Iggy selling car insurance, and surely that’s part of the point.  It would be very different, would it not (or so the reporter cannily suggested to me), if Iggy were dressed in a suit, seated at a desk, telling us quietly but firmly that he was going to talk to us about insurance?

    I mean, by contrast, this little exercise in cognitive dissonance is much funnier.

    More tomorrow, I promise!  In which I will explain why I manage to be ambivalent even though I tend to think the entire idea of “selling out” starts from a flawed premise (Les, Nate, I’ll get back to you on this).

    Posted by Michael  on  02/19  at  03:47 PM
  19. horrified when millions of people show up and say, “actually, your stuff totally rocks!  can you make more of it?”

    That was apparently Thomas Gray’s reaction to the success of _Ode_ and _Elegy_.  But he (it seems) wanted to remain authentically elitist rather than authentically populist, and that latter sense has a lot to do with the inflection of “selling out” today.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  03:59 PM
  20. "I enjoy Tool’s take on the charge in their song “Hooker with a Penis.” It’s sung as a response to being told by someone that they were selling out.”

    Maynard James Keenan is cool and I agree with his take.

    I liked this video for the Offspring’s “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” and of course someone wrote in the comments “this is the story of the Offspring’s career” but if they hadn’t sold out some they never would have made this great video (with Gwen Stefani as a bush goddess).  I used to be more judmental but over the years I’ve encountered so many finger-pointing jerks yelling “sellout” that I’ve come to sympathesize with the sellouts more and more.

    Posted by Peter K.  on  02/19  at  04:21 PM
  21. "Commercial/anti-commercial” isn’t the right frame for the analysis.  The key concept is authenticity.

    There was a brief period, at the beginning of the singer-songwriters and the end of the 50’s pop era, when rock and roll was “authentic.” This was a time when authenticity was prized, not merely in music but in movies (Rebel without a Cause, On the Waterfront), philosophy (Sartre), newscasters (Morrow, Cronkite), whatever. 

    The whole point of the singer-songwriters (the Beatles, Dylan, the Stones, Joni Mitchell, and everyone else) was that they had something to say.  You didn’t divide up the musician’s tasks between the composer and lyricist - the people who had something to say - and the singer-performers - the deliverers of the song.  Authenticity meant that they had to be the same person. 

    The fact that Dylan couldn’t sing as well as Sinatra, or even as well as Frankie Avalon - that he couldn’t sing at all, in fact, and couldn’t play guitar very well, either - wasn’t a liability.  It was a benefit.  His total lack of performance talent demonstrated the authenticity of his message.  His fans are attracted to him because of his authenticity - his “honesty,” his truth to the core of his personal vision.

    Advertising, of course, is completely inauthentic.  But it PRETENDS to be authentic. That’s its whole point. So when Dylan makes commercials, he’s being used by the advertiser to persuade his fans to transfer their faith in his authenticity to their product.  And the fans don’t like it.  They feel manipulated.

    Then we come to post-60’s rock.  The end of the 60’s was the end of authenticity as something to be prized in itself.  The whole point of David Bowie, for example, is that he’s not authentic - that there’s no one there to be authentic, there’s no center, no stable personality to be expressed.  For Bowie the entire concept of authenticity is illusory.  And there’s an entire world of post-60’s rock that explores the absence of authenticity.  I would put Iggi Pop in this category.

    So if you’ve made your artistic mark on the world by showering contempt on the concept of authenticity, then by lending yourself to advertising, which pretends to be authentic, you’ve become the object of your own contempt.  And if your fans followed your lead in rejecting authenticity, then you have to expect that they will have contempt for you when you pretend to be authentic on behalf of the advertiser.

    I suppose if you’re ZZ Top or something, then your own authenticity is all about crass commercial consumption and immediate gratification of basic needs.  So maybe there’s no issue for musicians like them.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  04:34 PM
  22. Excuse me, Iggy, not Iggi.  My keyboard hiccupped. And while I’m back, if you want someone even more authentic than Dylan, try Leonard Cohen.  There’s someone who not only has zero performance talent, he has negative performance talent!

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  04:59 PM
  23. But authenticity itself begins from a flawed premise, too. To be authentic is to stay the same. Where’s the progress in that? Being “authentic” has kept countless nations poverty-stricken and the museum-like playrounds for denizens of walthier countries.

    Posted by Librarian@Play  on  02/19  at  04:59 PM
  24. Singer-songwriters who aspire to nothing more than to play at a basket show may be able to claim some sort of artistic purity, but we mostly can’t talk about these people because we mostly don’t know who they are.  Bob Dylan signed with the largest record label in the country; Marlon Brando was a movie star-- which gets you a South Seas Island, among other things.  Maybe you can say Sartre resisted the call of the commercial-- he refused the Nobel Prize-- but he was also in the business of selling books.

    Samuel Johnson tells us that “No man but an idiot ever wrote except for money,” and it has been ever thus.  I’ll bet you a dollar that Bob Seegar didn’t hesitate a second when they asked him if they could buy “Like A Rock”.  That’s the point of commercial music, isn’t it? 

    What I find odd about Iggy in advertisements-- and particularly in these two-- is that he has apparently moved from being a sort of fringe character into the realm of the Seegars and the Mellencamps.  It doesn’t make him any more or less “authentic”, whatever that means.  (And what does it mean when we are talking about a guy who has chosen the surname “Pop”?) It just means that the culture has shifted in an interesting way, and that the auteur of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” really was ahead of his time.  Back in the day I suspect that we’d have been surprised that he’d live this long.  Now that he has, nothing should really surprise us.

    Posted by Bill Altreuter  on  02/19  at  05:05 PM
  25. First of all, Eliot, I agree that this “don’t make much sense, that Common Sense, don’t make no sense no more...” Take that Thomas Paine!

    Also, I have one Iggy Pop album--"We are not talking about commercial shit.”

    Finally, “selling out” is, I think, a coasty concept.  In the south people don’t really argue about which bluegrass artists have sold out.  But in some senses a band like Chatham County Line has sold out.  Still, in this case, we’re probably talking about thousands of dollars, not millions.  No one is going to try and use CCL’s music to sell air fresheners, or probably anything except maybe bourbon.  If they did, would their music be any less attractive?  I don’t think so--I would just relish in my own anachronistic tendencies as I refuse to listen to any albums made post-sell out.  This chronology-dictated boycott is, for example, what I felt compelled to do when Dave Matthews contributed to the Black Hawk Down soundtrack. Let’s all just rejoice in anachronism.

    P.S. I find it funny that no one on this thread has mentioned Oprah’s book club yet (at least not that I noticed).  Are we all afraid of losing the potential for our own “sell out”?!?!?

    Posted by Derek T.  on  02/19  at  05:21 PM
  26. When Springsteen signs an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart, haven’t most of the trains already left the station?

    capcha word “paper” as in little johnny of “Puff the Magic Dragon” fame. Memories of a purer simpler time.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  05:47 PM
  27. What if we pose the problem not as a dereliction of artistic duty by individuals, but as a feature of a system that makes it difficult for art to create a public space separate from commercialism?

    I don’t like that a song as beautiful as “Pink Moon” is for me inextricably tied to Volkswagen. The more I can keep my experience of music tied to my life, to my friends, to the music itself, the less space in my brain is taken up by their sponsors.

    People defend against charges of selling out by asking “how else are you going to make a living?” It is worth asking that question non-rhetorically. Can we create systems to distribute music and support artists that aren’t bound to commercial activity?

    We not only suffer by having little space for anti-commercial messages, we suffer from having no space for non-commercial messages.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  05:52 PM
  28. I didn’t say I believed in such a thing as authenticity, I said that certain artists’ persona is one of authenticity.  If your appeal is that you’re authentic, then you’re gonna piss off your fans if you violate the constraints of that appeal.  Hell, Dylan violated folk authenticity when he went electric.  But his fans eventually went with him because he was being even more authentic to himself, which required him to progress past his folk authenticity (which we eventually learned was a put-on to begin with—Dylan has even less authenticity than Iggy Pop, but that’s a different story).

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  06:01 PM
  29. Jefferson Airplane did Levi’s ads in 1968. Was that “selling out”? They were already signed to RCA records.

    I don’t think the Grateful Dead ever sold out, despite being signed to Warner Bros. (although the $98 face price on my ticket to see the survivors play Madison Square Garden this spring has me reconsidering).

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  06:08 PM
  30. I don’t see any problem with the term authenticity. It comes down to purpose. If your purpose in creating art is to create art, then that is authentic. If your purpose in creating art is to make money, then that is not authentic. Note that one can create art with purpose and still make money—those two things are not mutually exclusive.

    I live in Austin where there are many authentic musicians. Would they refuse money? No, probably not. However, that is not the same as reinventing themselves solely to sell records—which several have had the opportunity to do and opted not to.

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  06:10 PM
  31. Allergic as I am to the term “authenticity” (it always conjures up notions of the Volk for me, and you know where that leads—to Gemeinschaft!  and all those pre-ironic, pre-postmodern nasty things), I have to agree that only in those genres and practices that value “authenticity” does the charge of “selling out” have any purchase.  To put this another way, there is no available sense in which one can accuse Bob Seger or Thomas Kinkade of “selling out.” No one says, “I liked Jennifer Aniston’s early work—before she sold out and did Friends.”

    And then the question becomes:  did an artist, in fact, “reinvent” herself in an attempt to cross over into a mass market?  And with what results?  (Because it doesn’t always work, you know—following on the WTF success of Frampton Comes Alive, the newly alive one tried to remake himself as a soft-rock MOR stud with “I’m In You,” and that was the end of his career.  Well, that and the Sgt. Pepper remake with the Bee Gees.)

    Posted by Michael  on  02/19  at  07:05 PM
  32. I’m the farthest thing from a Bob Seger fan as is imaginable, but jeez, to compare him to the Aesthetic Antichrist like that - that is harsh.  Although I grant your point.

    Also, I don’t see how we can discuss authenticity in the context of Mr. Pop’s body of work without even mentioning his performance as a Vorta on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Iggy Pop as an alien in charge of the drugs: now that’sauthenticity.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  02/19  at  08:46 PM
  33. As Mr. Dylan once said: (perhaps not knowing how it might be interpreted by certain creatures from the future)

    “you gotta serve somebody”

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  09:53 PM
  34. it’s royal caribbean who was using lust for life, not carnival

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  09:53 PM
  35. 1,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mSE-Iy_tFY
    ( I noticed you already included this, but it’s worth a repeat - then again Lydon is in so many ways a traditional tweedy English gent)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK0nWgmRf00
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XznuoDdv-IM

    2.
    I don’t think we ever saw Iggy as anything other than a fine gentleman who likes jolly japes (slashing himself with knives etc). He’s been doing that thing Alice has been doing for years - revealing himself as an upstanding tax-paying citizen who loves his mother-in-law and plays pantomime for a living, Even when Iggy appeared on British TV in a pair of see through PVC strides, elderly grandmothers thought it amusing.

    3.
    Then again I think this might be a specifically British TV phenomenon. Even when L7 appeared on mainstream TV doing this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GypkmEUhHvQ (btw NSFW) nobody batted an eye. So why be anything other than amused at Iggy et al? Brit culture is much smaller and more compact than US culture. The fringes are very close to the middle and its faster in turnover. It’s dead easy for a quite offensive (or out there) thing like Little Britain or the Pythons to become mainstream and even end up leading and influencing their field. Over here Bill Hicks or George Carlin or Sarah Silverman would have their own Saturday night shows on the BBC, just like ‘Indie’ bands like Blur or the Arctic Monkeys or The Mary Chain or a million others sit atop the mainstream charts.

    4.
    I think the notion of selling out is more to do with the fan than the artist. It’s part of that traditional tale of the teenager possessing an artist nobody else has heard of, desperately wanting them to get the recognition they deserve and then feeling betrayed when they end up selling millions and playing stadia. When someone is teetering on a pedestal it is so easy for them to fall off.

    p.s.
    Is this commercial (again a mainstream Brit TV ad) selling out?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNMIorh3jCY

    Posted by saltydog  on  02/19  at  09:58 PM
  36. I agree with Venerable Ed:  it all comes down to purpose.  Would you consider Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus authentic?  No, because their personnas (personnae?) were invented to make money, not music.  And that is the glitch I see with artists “selling out.” Eventually, they’re making music that will make good commercials, playing to the absolute lowest common denominator.  As Bill Hicks would say, “They’re music sucks.”

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  10:59 PM
  37. I do think that many of the posts above assume a stable definition of “art” or “artist”. However, I think that Michael was right to suggest that the sort of art we’re discussing is ”always already commercial.” Aside from the nifty Derridada-ism, that comment does point to a certain instability in the notions from which “selling out” is derived. Is it just the selling of music or image that we’re objecting to here? The support of corporations (like EMI, Warner Brothers)?

    Ignobility suggests that intention and mere suckfulness makes the music (and the “selling out") objectionable.  That’s an interesting notion, but I’d argue that many, many artists who make “popular” music that one or another person thinks sucks (Josh Groban springs to mind...don’t ask) are, in fact, sincere in their intent.

    Maybe, just maybe, the notion is simply based on Pitchfork’s notion of what music is?

    Personally, I think that saltydog’s comment #4 nails the issue of “selling out” as a sort of reader-response: It’s the fan’s perception of intentionality that matters…

    But why? Because they’re not being sold rebellion anymore? Because the rebellion is no longer exclusive? Because now everyone has the same $100 jeans? Because they just aren’t as cool as Pavement?

    Again, I’d like to point to the purpose of art. By definition?  In a post-modern society? How many people wouldn’t have heard of, say, CSS without this iPod touch ad?

    Posted by  on  02/19  at  11:44 PM
  38. Presenting the argument in this way is already setting the table for the kind of meal you want to eat.  Because it sets advertising as the antithesis of art, which is an arguable assumption, not a definiton.  Advertising itself (or at least the means by which it is carried out) is a form of artistic endeavor.

    Because the artisitc line between this:
    http://www.powerwriting.com/vw-lemon-ad.html

    ...this:
    http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html

    ...and this:
    http://www.online-literature.com/yeats/779/

    is pretty slim.

    And if you recognize that, then the discussion is really one of FORMAT, like debating about the authenticity/fidelity of digital recording versus vinyl.  It’s not analysis, it’s description.

    Because I would make the case that this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIOW9fLT9eY is actually a more interesting and compelling artistic statement than Drake’s song ever was by itself.  And the fact that it is an ad for a car actually adds to the success of it, rather than detracts, because the pleasure of driving is integral to the artistic statement, no less than it is in the Futurist Manifesto.

    And if you allow yourself to get mugged in that critical alleyway with me, the real question with most ads is not about authenticity, but are they any goddamn good?

    Which brings up back to the comment made in #34:  “Lust for Life” was used in a Royal Caribbean ad, not a Carnival ad.  And it was done as part of a conversation about what crusing is, and what it means to a new generation of consumers/audience, after about 15 years of Carnival running less artistically interesting ads starring Kathie Lee Gifford singing variations on American songbook classics like “Ain’t We Got Fun”:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chqX0SPkgWY&NR=1

    Consider the original lyrics to THAT song:

    Every morning
    Every evening
    Don’t we have fun
    Twins and cares dear come in pairs dear
    Don’t we have fun
    We’ve only started
    As mommer and pop
    Are we downhearted
    I’ll say that we’re not
    Landlords mad and getting madder
    Ain’t we got fun
    Times are so bad and getting badder
    Still we have fun
    There’s nothing surer
    The rich get rich and the poor get laid off
    In the meantime
    In between time
    Ain’t we got fun.

    Compared to that little ode to happy despair, the idea that a Baby Boomer target audience gets a little frission from using a song by a Baby Boomer about getting fucked up to sell a cruise seems like pretty small fucking beer by comparison—even in the authenticity alleyway! 

    But in the successful ad-as-art alleyway, it was successful enough to be remembered, but not successful enough to be remembered accurately.  So, good art, not great capitalism.

    Posted by  on  02/20  at  12:42 AM
  39. To keep this discussion on an even historical keel, provide the blogistic fact-checking function, and check the spread of corrosive late-1960’s memes, it should be noted that in point of fact Bob Dylan could sing good.

    Iggy looks like he’s been going light on the pot for a few decades.  Could be that when we healthy types get as wrinkle up as Iggy, we’ll be so far past worrying about selling out that we’ll be beyond caring about insurance ads, and this whole problem will be moot.

    Old guy scuffling for a dime… could shed a tear in private and let it lie.

    Posted by  on  02/20  at  01:12 AM
  40. My god. That man looks like an old hunk of shoe leather that’s had a lot of dental work.

    Posted by Hattie  on  02/20  at  01:21 AM
  41. Turns out it’s complicated, I guess. Not quite as on-topic as I recalled it to be, but I find Jeffrey Lewis’s “Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror” to be a brilliant exploration of the general theme (be prepared to listen fast). I wonder what he’ll be selling in 40 years? Special bonus link for semi-on-topicness, entertainment, education and the making of many arguments; his “Complete History of Punk Rock”.

    Posted by  on  02/20  at  02:28 AM
  42. Since this blog is read by academics, I will present an academic analogy. I know professors who choose to work at the university because it gives them the freedom to pursue their research topics of interest with minimal interference (note to right-wing noise machine: it ain’t the money). Is it “selling out” to accept a grant from private industry to do research? No.

    What if the industry had a vested interest in the outcome of the research? Still, not necessarily “selling out.”

    However, if your research outcomes were not what the industry wanted and you were pressured to change the outcome or redo the research until you arrived at the desired outcome, what would you do? If you would cave to the industry, that would be “selling out.”

    Think global-warming denying scientists paid by Exxon/Mobil to produce the research they produce. I think they have artistic equivalents.

    captcha: cost

    Posted by  on  02/20  at  08:37 AM
  43. Thomas Kinkade + Bob Seger = Light Moves

    Posted by Librarian@Play  on  02/20  at  10:36 AM
  44. Selling out? Iggy Pop could at least be more subtle and stay in the neighborhood of his creative talents. You know, like Bobby Flay.

    Posted by  on  02/20  at  11:04 AM
  45. 99 times out of 100 accusations of selling out have no merit, and indeed, I don’t think you can meaningfully accuse Iggy of doing that here. But the ad still does rankle. It’s got nothing to do with commercialism. It’s got to do with selling insurance. In the UK, the advertising industry seems to have decided that the only way to sell insurance is to piss off the audience as much as possible, presumably to get them to throw something at the television and break it, thereby demonstrating the utility of insurance. So you get odious people like Michael Winner playing up their odiousness, those godawful confused.com monstrosities, and Iggy Pop selling insurance. Iggy Pop selling Lucozade? Fine. Insurance? Not fine. I mean, I’m not judging him - as I understand it he needs the money. But the ad is bad.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  08:51 AM

Name:

Email:

Location:

URL:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:


<< Back to main