An amazing documentary about a crow named Canuck. Worth a watch.
An amazing documentary about a crow named Canuck. Worth a watch.
1. Thanks to Feministing for the best framing of the uprising in Baltimore. I appreciate the foregrounding of gender, class, and the juxtaposition of Wholefoods feeding the National Guard and community members organizing (through technology) to feed local kids.
2. The New York Times seems to think that activism documented through the internet focusing on police violence is a new thing. It isn’t, but Jay Caspian Kang’s write up of the radicalization of the leaders of this movement is a useful connection point. Here Kang outlines the articulation of long-standing injustices into first-person experiences of tear-gas saturated outrage in Ferguson.
Mckesson was radicalized that night. “I just couldn’t believe that the police would fire tear gas into what had been a peaceful protest,” he told me. “I was running around, face burning, and nothing I saw looked like America to me.” He also noticed that his account of that night’s tear-gassings, along with a photo he took of the rapper J. Cole, had brought him quite a bit of attention on Twitter. Previously, Mckesson had used the social-media platform to post random news articles that interested him, but now he was realizing its documentary power. He quickly grasped that a protester’s effectiveness came mostly from his ability to be present in as many places as possible: He had to be on West Florissant when the police rolled up in armored vehicles; inside the St. Louis coffee shop MoKaBe’s, a safe haven for the protesters in the city’s Shaw neighborhood, when tear gas started to seep in through the front door; in front of the Ferguson Police Department when shots rang out. He had to keep up a steady stream of tweets and carry around a charger so his phone wouldn’t die.
Sims, Mass & Alan the G created this wonderful video montage of MF DOOM samples and snippets. Well constructed and inspirational (I’m trying to find a copy of Altered States right now!)
Excellent visual argument about Palestine. Compelling visuals, crisp juxtaposition and significant argument about the importance of graffiti.
Thanks to Boing Boing for the link!
Robinson Meyer notes some of the interesting ways Weird Al uses the interwebs to promote his work. Writing in The Atlantic, Meyer observes:
No wonder, then, that this week Al has mimicked the tactics of the preeminent Knowles. From last Monday to this upcoming one, he released a new music video every day, eight videos in total. There are few songs on his new album that will lack a video, meaning that, in medium and marketing, he’s pulling a sort of time-extended Yoncé.
But not all eight videos are going straight to YouTube. Weird Al is spreading that goodness around.
His parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” is hosted by Nerdist, a sprawling online entertainment empire that achieved fame through its eponymous podcast but which now encompasses a news website, a network of audio and video shows, and a television program on BBC America. Al’s Lorde spoof, meanwhile, went to competing digital content factory, CollegeHumor. It did go to YouTube, but is marked “Exclusive” and a “CollegeHumor ORIGINAL.” A “Blurred Lines” send-up sits on Yancovic’s Vevo page.
I also liked the reflection about Weird Al’s mockery driven art. Since the idea of juxtaposition comes up so much on Life of Refinement, it seems worthwhile to think about Weird Al laying a mocking interpretation on top of something already widely marketed. Adbusters-style mock advertisements do the same thing. Borrowing the millions of dollars of advertising money that preceded to simultaneously undercut the original message and build a counter-brand.
The situationists would call this détournement — to turn something against itself. A media concept articulated by Debord, but well understood by any Weird Al fan. Here Meyer describes this process as “disruptive innovation:”
The phenomenon Weird Al describes here is actually well described by a genre of scholarly literature—by business scholarship, of all things. It’s disruptive innovation, the buzzword so buzzwordy that the New Yorker devoted a thinkpiece to it in print!. Disruptive innovation describes what happens when new products create a new market for that type of product, which winds up challenging the existing one.
I also appreciate the documentation of the Lady Gaga incident. Yankovic created a parody of a Gaga song and when he checked in with her to get her blessing to release the tune on an upcoming album Gaga’s people refused. Weird Al released the song on youtube with an explanation and Gaga quickly relented.
It’s worth noting something more about the substance of Weird Al’s mockery.
Not only is “Tacky” a review of a number of bad fashion moves, it is also a conservative morality rant. This tune marks as “tacky” oversharing on instagram, forcing others to pay, reminding people you’ve done them favors, insulting people, dropping names, leaving bad yelp reviews, and having no shame.
At points Weird Al references particular low-points of recent toxic internet culture such as: “I’m a live-tweet a funeral and take selfies with the deceased.” This could be a Fox “news” commentary.
I happen to agree with Weird Al on most of these morality points. But given that Pharrell’s “Happy” is a sort of liberation utopian expression of pop-oneness, the grounded grumpy juxtaposed retort is interesting. [Let’s note that the use of the Odd Future crew in “Happy” is a juxtaposition in itself.]
If you add in the English-teacher favorite “Word Crimes” you can start to map a particular perspective to Weird Al.
I get the sense that Al is frustrated with some of the changes in this new-fangled world. His juxtaposition is intended to bring down and anchor some of the worst behaviors of the current era.
Several casual observations:
– Bill Weir, CNN reporter seems manipulative, disrespectful and really entitled.
– Both spend some time trying to not incriminate themselves. It is Pusha who makes the most blatantly inconsistent statement when he refuses acknowledge drug profits in part 2. “No, I’m a really good rapper.”
Probably worth juxtaposing with “King Push” first track from his most recent album:
– I have a little more clarity about the difficulties of No Malice. I think he makes some of the most explicit justifications for why he refuses to perform violent drug rap music any more. I appreciate that he gives up obvious financial gain to be real to his family and his beliefs.
– Pusha T’s segments are basically Pusha T advertisements. The exchange where he tells Weir how much publicity he’ll get from being on CNN is awesome. Pusha is phenomenally media savvy and makes it clear that he wouldn’t be on CNN if it didn’t benefit him.
– No Malice’s argument about white consumption of violent black-performed drug rap is pretty compelling.
– When asked by Weir why he doesn’t take the money to perform Clipse songs, No Malice gives the best exchange of the series:
“Brother, that money, that money at one time, was out for my life. They can’t invent a dollar amount to get me out there to tell . . . look at what’s at stake? I can’t tell anybody about selling drugs any more, I can’t even make it look cool anymore. There are people that are dying, look at what is going on in Chicago. And I like I said earlier, your race can enjoy it! And laugh and joke and enjoy it . . . and then get back to business. I have a message and I have to share it. Then I have to let you do what you want with it. You know, you do what you want with it. But, I’ve got enough blood on my hands. Enough.”
– No Malice, CNN.
Ray Jasper is scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas. From death row, he wrote a strong piece on his impending death and the practice of state killing. I appreciate the juxtaposition he paints about race. Referencing a passage by Lisa Maxwell, Jasper explains:
Imagine you’re a young white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men… you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?
As outside of the box as that scene is, those were the exact circumstances of my trial. I was the only black person in the courtroom.
Again, I’m not playing the race card, but empathy is putting the shoe on the other foot.
If the people in Texas is going to kill this dude, the least I can do is read his letter.