Wednesday, 31 December 2014

People Do Nothing

The biggest question posed by People Do Nothing is how long it spent in development hell. A comedy about a pirate radio station might have been topical in about 1994 - before the internet made it possible for DJs to stream from their bedrooms without worrying about the old bill nicking their transmitters. Unless the script was proposed in 1993, the concept has missed its sell-by date by around a decade.

The second question is how far the BBC wants to go in  demonising the working class. Every character is an idiot: even Alan Partridge gets more sympathy. Stoner characters, when they turn up in sit-coms (even in Seinfeld) get a few laughs and minimal screen time. People Do Nothing  is a series of stoners shambling about, trying to con the dole and living in a fantasy world in which radio remains relevant.

The plot is three guys, maybe four if you include the one who gets sent to do odd jobs, trying to run a pirate radio station. Had the writers any love of music, it might work: had more than the barest of plots been written, it might have had a satirical point. As it goes, it is half an hour of mockery, that imagines a working class without taste, intelligent or common sense. 

A third question is whether caricaturing Bollywood as a twee, trite music is racist or just patronising. 

New Year Resolutions 2015

As the regular reader of my blog (hi Ben!) will know, this year has seen the transition of my interests from ideas I barely understand but I read about a paragraph of a book about them to ideas that I barely understand but they have an academic pedigree and I read the description in the university library. On the basis of this, I am going to make a set of New Year Resolutions. I reckon people love them.

1. Giving up Smoking
To clarify, by smoking I mean 'getting involved in controversies generated by the media'. And since everyone is the media nowadays, that means complaining about stuff that people keep posting. Buzzfeed is like pornography: lots of people use it, few admit to it, even fewer defend it, but I would appreciate it if my cool friends (and if I like you on Facebook or Twitter, I think you are cool) could try and repost more esoteric media. Less BBC and Guardian think-pieces, more critical theory, please. Otherwise, I am going to mention Katie 'fucksake' Hopkoins in every post.

2. Having a fitness regime
Tell you what: methodology is health. I am going to be much more involved with methodology than content now. The way a play is presented is far more telling than the subject it covers. As a throwaway comment that begs deeper clarification, and will annoy the right people: most plays that think of themselves as political are usually left-wing subjects with right-wing methodology. 

3. Cut down on alcohol
There are toxins in the TV and I am going to watch even less of it this year. Just let me get that Charlie Brooker on the iplayer, then I am cutting out the shit-pump and its associated nonsense. Except for Bojack Horseman and... hang on, I hardly watch it. I get pissed more often than I watch a panel show. 

4. Cut out the one night stands
I used to think art about art was a bit of a wank. Now I am happily going to consider it as the foremost genre of theatre. Until I read another book that says otherwise. See, art about art is about methodology, and I am into that, this week.

5. Er, that's it.

New Year Resolution: The Meaning of Life

I was challenged to write an article on 'the meaning of life from a feminist perspective'. That would be Cixous feminism, I hope. Here goes.

Meaning itself has been used as a patriarchal tool of oppression: insisting on the fixity and purpose of reality, it encourages thinkers to take an 'objective' position, and define events in terms of their meaning. Cixous, on the other hand, suggests the ecriture feminine - a multiplicity of approaches, which shake the event and consider it from different perspectives.

In this context, 'the meaning of life' can be deconstructed, then reconstructed, to be critiqued from all sides. The bluntest, most literal life (the meaning of life is the absence of death) can be developed with support from diverse disciplines but is not, unlike the patriarchal approach, limited to either biology or philosophy.

However, a more immediate reading would make the development of a comprehensive ecriture feminine not only the critical framework for the discussion but the object itself: the meaning of life is a process in which alternative viewpoints are welcomed and combine in a dialectic fission of concepts and methodologies. This might open up the meaning to a further capitalist assimilation, but that itself would be subject to the emerging model of discourse.

Play Boy of the month: Jacques

favourite activities 
Self-vanishing mediation is not something unknown to us.
Guilty Pleasures 
This measurement precisely eludes the arithmetic of ignoramuses
Intellectual emancipation is the verification of the equality of intelligence. 
Best Concert 
Emancipation begins when we challenge the opposition between viewing and acting.
Favourite Books 
It is easy to recognize in this line of argument the indestructible logic of the Communist Manifesto.
Favourite Movies 
The voice of the ventriloquist spectre tells us that we are doubly guilty, guilty for two opposite reasons: because we stick with the old verities of reality and culpability, affecting not to know that there is no longer anything to feel guilty about; but also because, through our own consumption of commodities, spectacles and protests, we contribute to the infamous reign of commodity equivalence.
Favourite TV show 
What is more interactive, more communitarian, about these spectators than a mass of individuals watching the same television show at the same hour?
Sports played 
Being a spectator is not some passive condition that we should transform into activity. It is our normal situation.
The beast, so it is said, gets a stranglehold on the desires and capacities of its potential enemies by offering them, at the cheapest price, the most desirable of commodities – the capacity to experiment with one’s life as a fertile ground for infinite possibilities
Foods I crave 
Social emancipation was simultaneously an aesthetic emancipation, a break with the ways of feeling, seeing and
saying that characterized working-class identity in the old hierarchical order. People I admire 
They have argued the real meaning of the word ‘democracy’: the law of the individual concerned exclusively with satisfying her desires. 
Jobs before Modelling 
I have contrasted this right-wing frenzy of post-critical critique with left-wing melancholy. But they are two sides of the same coin.
Favourite song to sing 
It is Plato’s community, where artisans must remain in their place because work does not wait – it does not allow time for going to chat in the agora, deliberate at the assembly and watch shadows in the theatre – but also because the divinity has given them the iron soul, the sensory and intellectual equipment, that adapts and fixes them to their occupation.
Sexiest city in the world 
That is the truth of the concept of spectacle as fixed by Guy Debord: the spectacle is not the display of images concealing reality. It is the existence of social activity and social wealth as a separate reality.
In the morning 
The cave is the place where images are taken for realities, ignorance for knowledge, and poverty for wealth. 
Good first date idea
There is no theoretical transition from modernist critique to postmodern nihilism. It is simply a question of reading the same equation of reality and the image, wealth and poverty, in a different direction.

The Vile Arts' Great Big Quiz of 2014

Anyone capable of understanding this can email in and win a prize.

(Does the) set of equivalences and oppositions  (in theatre) in fact compose a rather intricate dramaturgy of sin and redemption?

Theatre accuses itself of rendering spectators passive and thereby betraying its essence as community action. It consequently assigns itself the mission of reversing its effects and expiating its sins by restoring to spectators ownership of their consciousness and their activity. 

(Is) The theatrical stage and performance ... a vanishing mediation between the evil of spectacle and the virtue of true theatre?

They intend to teach their spectators ways of ceasing to be spectators and becoming agents of a collective practice...

According to the Brechtian paradigm, theatrical mediation makes them conscious of the social situation that gives rise to it and desirous of acting in order to transform it. According to Artaud’s logic, it makes them abandon their position as spectators: rather than being placed in front of a spectacle, they are surrounded by the performance, drawn into the circle of action that restores their collective energy. In both cases, theatre is presented as a mediation striving for its own abolition.

Happy 2015

And so, onwards. Let's have a prophecy for the theatre in 2015!

What in fact is the essence of the spectacle for Guy Debord? It is exteriority. 

Sorry. Looks like I have cut and pasted a bit more of that book I got from Verso for a quid. Still, it is more interesting than the spurious repetition of other critic's predictions for 2015. Well, Monsieur Ranciere, take it away.

The spectacle is the reign of vision, and vision is exteriority – that is, self-dispossession. The malady of spectating man can be summed up in a brief formula: ‘the more he contemplates, the less he lives’.

And that is my life! Nice work, Guy D.

 The formula seems to be anti-Platonic. In fact, the theoretical foundations of the critique of the spectacle are borrowed, via Marx, from Feuerbach’s critique of religion. The basis of both critiques consists in the Romantic vision of truth as non-separation. 

But that idea is itself dependent on Plato’s conception of mimesis. The ‘contemplation’ denounced by Debord is contemplation of the appearance separated from its truth; it is the spectacle of the suffering produced by that separation: ‘Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle.’

Separation is a bit like alienation? That thing the Marxists posit as the basis of capitalism: alienation from the value of our work.

 What human beings contemplate in the spectacle is the activity they have been robbed of; it is their own essence become alien, turned against them, organizing a collective world whose reality is that dispossession.

In 2015, I shall continue to experience alienation because theatre. 

Review of the Year

I pull myself away from the seductions of solitaire, to the sound of partying in the adjacent flats. Facebook has awakened me to the knowledge that what the world wants is a post about the things I have learnt in the past year - either how I have grown, or how high I placed in the suffering Olympics. 

Instead, here's a bit from The Emancipated Spectator, discussing ways to escape from Plato's condemnation of the spectator.

This reasoning distance that must itself be abolished. The spectator must be removed from the position of observer calmly examining the spectacle offered to her. She must be dispossessed of this illusory mastery, drawn into the magic circle of theatrical action where she will exchange the privilege of rational observer for that of the being in possession of all her vital energies.

That's a good summary of what immersive theatre is all about, and Black Mirror (five minutes rational analysis, and it falls apart). Let's be all about the emotions, and fuck thinking.

Such are the basic attitudes encapsulated in... Artaud’s theatre of cruelty... the spectator must .. forego any distance... he must abdicate the very position of viewer. Modern attempts to reform theatre have constantly oscillated between these two poles of distanced investigation (Brecht's epic theatre) and vital participation, when not combining their principles and their effects.

They have claimed to transform theatre on the basis of a diagnosis that led to its abolition. 

Plato wanted to replace the democratic, ignorant community of theatre with a different community, encapsulated in a different performance of bodies. To it he counter-posed the choreographic community, where no one remains a static spectator, where everyone must move in accordance with the community rhythm fixed by mathematical proportion, even if that requires getting old people reluctant to take part in the community dance drunk.

Wait a minute: does this mean that Plato's ideal theatre was represented, sorry, performed, in Euripides' Bacchae

And that was my 2014!

Keystone Satanism

Satanism ranks up there with Glasgow take-away curry for its lack of substance. The division within its ranks makes the baptists look cohesive, and for a religion intending to challenge the hegemony of Christianity, it sure relies on the enemy's scriptures and mythology. 

Having read the Satanic Bible some years ago, I was impressed by its intentions to justify itself not as evil but individualistic: there's a touch of Rand's egotism, plenty of self-evident truths and a pinch of Nietzsche (stripped of his wit and ambiguity). Anton LaVey was a showman, and while he had an admirable skill for looking all sinister on TV, he was hardly the religious leader necessary for a lasting philosophy. Consequently, as 'the year in satanism' demonstrates, the religion has ended up like a Keystone Cops version of protest.

1. Setting up a statue to Baphomet
This caper began as a protest against the Ten Commandments being set up outside an American courthouse. It was a witty response, until they designed it, and ended up with one of the originators of the idea realising that it was offensive. He pulled away from the project, everyone started shouting (it's 'Merica, okay), and a deranged evangelist drove his car into the Ten Commandments, making the whole thing moot.

2. Supernatural bullshit
My lack of sympathy for atheism plus notwithstanding, at least they have the dignity not to invoke the metaphysics of the religion they claim to be attacking. Worshipping Satan as an expression of commitment to rationality is a leap. Fortunately, there is a 'tea party' branch who believe Satan is real. They aren't having any of this scientism, and get angry with the humanists...

3. It's capitalism
Stress on the individual? Check? Self-reliance over compassion? Check? The ideal of the powerful man who can overcome slave morality? Check. Forgive me for laughing at anything that could describe Richard Branson as a hero.

4. It's self-defeating
Religion causes problems. The answer is another religion. That can't go wrong. 

5. It's joyless
Winding up the Catholic Church is one thing. Wanting no nativity scenes at Christmas is another. Every time I read satanic articles, I am left feeling... bored. At least call yourself gnostics and dig out some old heresy: the church got really pissed at them, and they had some hilarious cosmologies. Including ones that gave Satan a good role, if you like him so much. The one you currently worship is a fall-guy out of medieval morality plays.

Satan Lives in the Cellar

Late to the party as always, I just got around to watching American Horror Story. I have nearly reached the end of the first season, but it gave me plenty to ponder.

1. Why is the female terror less obnoxious than in Black Mirror?
It's probably because the writers bother to give the women characters: some of the most horrific moments - the baby clawing from within the womb, the home invasion - are seen from the women's perspective. What it loses in the cool appraisal of an amoral protagonist, it gains in both terror and sensitivity.

2. Isn't it a bit derivative? 
There is nothing new in the horror stories - they share Black Mirror's post modern adaptation of source stories, but ramp it up a notch. The double-episode Halloween special was a compilation of expected tropes (yes, the dead walk the earth), but by using a nuclear family as the focus, all sorts of intriguing allegories are evoked. It's 2014, mind: originality is only available from liars and classical texts.

3. Who's the daddy?
The central character is a dad - a psychiatrist, no less. He might not be a deadbeat or absent father (where's the plot in someone not there?), but he runs the gamut of petty sins. I say petty - he breaks the Ten Commandments before getting out of bed with his student mistress. Sure, it's another 'masculinity in crisis' routine but, unlike Peep Show, Black Mirror and the rest, this man is the architect of his own undoing. He's not the victim of a society that is forcing feminine values on him. He takes advantage of his privilege to winch students, buy cheap real estate and slap up a patio over the corpses in the back garden. 

4. I haven't shat my pants yet.
When Alan Moore did something similar with Swamp Thing in the 1980s, he twisted various American horrors to comment on American social ills (guns, racism, misogyny). AHS isn't doing this in the episodes I have seen, at least not on the surface. It doesn't have the strangely blunt allegory that Moore delighted in using. Yet in the central trinity of a disintegrating family, it is more subtle. The horror is not so much an external threat, but lurks in the basement.

5. The High School Killer seems lovely.
At times: he was a bit of a stalker but it turns out he wasn't so much stalking as tied to the basement by unearthly powers. Here's a strength of the series: the characters develop. The current moral dilemma it is addressing is whether a high school killer could ever become redeemed through love, without forgetting that his romance is as creepy as twilight.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

For Tiernan Douieb: I am not an idiot

Thanks to the wonderful @churlishmeg, I have discovered a great blog post on Nathan Barley. When it came out, I was still a Latin teacher and enjoyed it mostly for the dystopian cynicism.

I thought the 'idiots' in it were a bit exaggerated. Now I work in media. I don't know anyone like the idiots, but I have seen them from afar. 

I do know Dan Ashcroft, though. There's this one freelance writer, getting on a bit, probably talented but hardly setting the world on fire. He comes up with wild, exciting ideas, but people look at him like - WTF. And he has a beard, and his every haircut is a disaster. He has even got a priest's coat that he wears to parties.

The thing is with Dan, is that he is smart but he spends so long looking down on other people, and nursing his failures, that he ignores the good in the world and underestimates his potential. 

As Nathan Barley goes on, Dan became less of a hero and more of a wraith.., lacking the strength to walk away from the idiots, he unwillingly pandered to them. Real life Dan is beginning to get like that - recent blog posts vacillate between mocking idiots and trying to get the attention of people who might save him.

Dan is the tragic hero of Nathan Barley: he is complicit in his own failure. The only hope is to reclaim him as he is in episode one (when he writes a scathing piece) and save him from his later arrogance (when he churns out shit to order).

Why I am not a feminist...

Feminism is not a singular entity
Like any movement that has lasted more than a single evening of big talk and alcohol-inspired ambitions, feminism has evolved over the decades: during the 1990s, there was a clear split between the followers of Dworkin - who advocated censorship of pornography - and Paglia, who claimed that 'a day without pornography is like a day without sunshine'. Schisms aside, there is plenty of friendly disagreement about the application of feminist theories to specific events. The current fashion for supporting sex workers is resisted by feminists like Julie Bindel, who would prefer more legislation to prevent sex work altogether.

While these positions all claim feminism, and they share a concern for the rights of women, they are sufficiently different to offer any consistent definition of 'feminism.'

Existence precedes essence
The recent legislation against pornography has been attacked as revealing a bias against female pleasure. Since it includes a ban on the representation of weaponry being inserted into the vagina, I would humbly suggest that it is a smorgasbord of censorship, based on vague ideas of what is offensive, rather than an expression of patriarchal control. It is controlling, but more from a general liberal set of worries than a hard-line assault on women's right to make money by getting pumped on film.

Being against censorship is one thing, but connecting it to feminism is irrelevant. There are feminist thinkers (see WAP, for example) who won't be joining the protest to allow piss fights on screen.

The writers who decided that the censorship was an act of patriarchal aggression are acting on a pre-existing belief that a conspiracy exists, and is intrinsic to the British justice system. The essential nature of justice is misogynistic, by this assumption.

They may be correct, but it is difficult to prove  - especially by selective reading of the list of banned items. Also, this just happened. The assumptions behind this decision are clearly based on a common feminist position about the rights of the mother.

I like adjectives
Picking up on the first point, the word 'feminist' is thrown about like shit at a shit-flinging competition. My favourite use of the monolithic 'feminist' (meaning bitch who ought to shut up) comes from the Men's Rights Movement (YouTube branch). They see it as a big conspiracy to castrate men. They are real good with the selective reading. 

By favourite, I mean least favourite, although the Jezebel website is catching up. This used to be a provocative place for me to read opinions I could consider. It is slowly descending into a click-bait Cosmopolitan. Latest article:  know your bros. Utter trash.

From now on, I want to be specific. This week, I am a Cixous Feminist: interested in ecriture feminine. Next week, I might use another adjective. But feminist is not enough. It means that the feminist is concerned with women's issues but, like Christianity and Marxism, it can manifest in many ways.

It's Awards Time!

Quick! Before it is the New Year! The Vile Arts presents...

the vile arts awards for 2014.

Having got distracted and never completed my Fibonacci sequence listing of theatre events, I thought I would make up some specious categories and pretend that people might be able to use them on their funding applications.

The Ancient and Modern Award
goes to Matthew Whiteside, for his project to bring back the viola d'amore (spelling provided by M. Whiteside) and compose a work for the baroque favourite and electronics. The album will be released in 2015.

The Hot Guys in the Scud Award
And it's Slope that gets this one, specifically for the interlude in London. I still feel deeply insecure about my physicality now.

The Pantomime Award
For consistent breaking of the barrier between stage and audience: Dominic Hill for The Libertine, which had a stage upon the stage and the protagonist was back stage on stage. Beat that, Barrowman!

Butoh Award
Congratulations to Paul Michael Henry, who is on a crusade to bring back butoh to Glasgow. Workshops, solo performances, arranging a festival. He does the lot, and as a fan of the only art-form that cuts to the chase of the human condition, I approve.

The Mañana Award
Once again, this goes to Gareth K Vile, who may or may not do another list of awards, depending on his ability to get up before midday.

Five reasons against being an Amazing Atheist

It's time.

On the whole, I try to avoid ad hominem arguments: I prefer to critique the product, not the artist. I make an exception for Charlie Brooker, because of his years insulting various TV puppets personally. And I am going to add The Amazing Atheist to this list of two, because it is just too tempting to laugh at his bellowing coupon. 

This isn't an argument against atheism - the ontological category of the divine is beyond my remit. It is a click-bait list of good reasons why some people ought to spend less time videoing themselves and more time thinking.

1. Atheism is not a badge of intelligence.
The Amazing Atheist is convinced he is rational. Let's take his analysis of a small group of Christians who are trying to address their worries about pornography use. 

Over forty minutes, in which he debunks every post on one of their discussion threads, TAA makes public his own use of pornography (not a surprise, I suppose), and demonstrates how the absence of God means that pornography is okay. There is no sense of doubt, only the constant damning of the opposition, with natural selection evoked every so often as a specious excuse for TAA to spend his life in wankorama. 

Taking a group of young Christians is hardly an intellectual challenge - there are coherent arguments against pornography elsewhere, that include statistics and all sorts of scientific evidence. Bellowing profanity does not make TAA the heir to Aristotle, and this sort of tilting at weak windmills is probably something TAA copied from The Blind Watchmaker itself. 

2. Shouting at a video is not dialectic.
It is not any sort of accepted intellectual argument. TAA's strategy is to take a video that disagrees with his position, take it personally, play bits of it and shout at them. That sounds pretty entertaining, in the same way that watch a tramp slug cider, claim that the government are reading his mind, piss himself and fall over. 

My favourite example is during one of his countless tirades against feminism. He gets angry that his description of a blogger (in one of his other tirades) as 'a stick with tits' has been construed as sexist.

If you need it explained why that is sexist, you are reading the wrong blog. 

3. Natural Selection does not explain everything.
In a masterful essay, Stephen Jay Gould (not always an impeccable
source, but a professional biologist and a life-long rationalist) explore the bizarre reasoning that allowed evolutionary biologists to ascribe adaptive meaning to the colour of flamingo's feathers. The reductionist version of natural selection - which TAA appears to accept - is that everything must be determined by its use for either survival or reproduction.

Turns out that the feathers are pink because they eat shrimp, and the colour has no evolutionary meaning. It must be possible to find one, given enough imagination on the part of the investigator. But that's not scientific method.

When TAA justified pornography using natural selection (we are driven by the need to have sex, so masturbation), he drives his golf-buggy of science into the dunes and sandpits of unreason. Frankly, the opposite argument - that masturbation is bad because he ought to be saving his sacred sperm for reproduction only - is stronger. But equally stupid.

4. You are part of the patriarchy.
There's a picture of Nietzsche on the wall behind TAA is a few of his rants. Nietzsche once pondered why, after the death of God, people are still using grammar.

His point is - why hasn't the shift in theological perspectives led to a change in the way humanity communicates. The idea of God has dominated the way that humanity thought about itself for thousands of year (at least in Europe). Isn't the death of this idea an opportunity for new ways of thinking?

Sadly, patriarchy is a tougher stain to shift. I don't share the conspiracy theory that the patriarchy is still in full effect - there is a dialectic tension between feminist and patriarchal models that is shaping contemporary British society - but I do believe that the dominant modes of communication owe a great deal to traditional masculine privilege. 

Again, while some of the claims against prominent atheists may be malicious, the sheer number of complaints against male atheists in the 'atheism plus movement' keeps TAA in rants against the woolly minded feminist conspiracy. Seriously, dude, it might be worth thinking that the women have a point.

5. A bit of humility would not hurt.
I just read his meme page. He is worse than I thought.

black mask, white christmas

Another Christmas, another episode of Black Mirror. Whether The Twilight Zone, Brooker's acknowledge template, was ever quite so distressing is difficult to guess: but White Christmas is an admirable addition to the corpus, aping the anthology style (and with more that a slight nod to Sartre's Huis Clos).

Christmas ghost stories are a tradition, and the ghost in the machine gets the spotlight. The stories converge into a elegant resolution and the usual suspects - a woman who has sex with men other than their partners, a woman being terrorised, the nature of self and the intrusion of social media's structures into real life. Even if there is nothing original in Black Mirror (and fair enough, it's a post-modern age et c), Brooker's skill is to pile idea onto idea. This time, he has a crack at macho relationship gurus (very topical), paternal obsession and a future state where the police can literally get into the suspect's mind.

Of course, it's invidious to assume that the author's biography is always relevant to his art, and personal insults are not appropriate for criticism. Having said that, I make an exception for Brooker. He has been rude to so many people through his hilarious TV column (I think he packed it in when he actually met some of the people he'd been snide about), I don't mind having a go at him.

So it is pretty clear that he spends most of his waking life worrying that Konnie Huq is getting slipped a bone by one of those hearty guys who used to bully him when he was a game playing geek at school.

Black Mirror does what Brooker wants it do: it dissects the hidden horrors of a technocratic universe. It's disturbing and the rush of ideas obscures his weak characterisation and blunt plotting. But by having multiple stories, White Christmas becomes more than a trawl through the trope dictionary. It is best enjoyed with adverts, giving time to discuss the Cartesian dilemmas and legal ramifications of each tale.

While as many men get as punished as the women - one gets ignored by the whole of humanity, forever, the other gets stuck in a groundhog day hell - it is noticeable that the women are callous and treacherous. One murders a guy who just wanted a pump, another pumps a co-worker behind his lover's back, a third makes a facsimile of herself and condemns it to monotonous drudgery. 

Admittedly, the guys aren't heroic - the protagonists are, respectively, a murderer and a mix of seduction guru and con-artist. But they get motivation, almost personality. The women are just plot points - including the cute little girl who dies in the snow. 

Friday, 26 December 2014

Madness in his Method

After they have realised that they won't be able to get me to just shut up, people often ask me why I bang on about methodology. Following the latest debacle from Anonymous - the one where they said that they had stuff on Iggy that would make Bill Cosby look like an innocent (implying that they have material on her that is worse than drugging and raping women) - I am all the more convinced that, as The Fun Boy Three reminded me, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. 

Today's lecture is on theatre as semiotic system. You can jump to the post in which I talk about face sitting now.

Honzl, one of the Prague Linguistic School (once again, thank wikipedia), pointed out in 1940 that 'stage space need not be spatial... and scenery can be a text'. Apart from the obvious implication that radio plays and post visual theatre are now in the game, Honzl is opening up the possibility that the usual gubbins of theatre can be absent, and the performance can still be a play.

Since he died before Andy Arnold staged some plays in the toilets at The Arches, Honzl has to be content with pointing out how the use of sound denoted the stage in The Cherry Orchard before proudly stating 'modern theatre has had the effect precisely of freeing the stage from its previously permanent architectural constraints'. 

He'd love the NTS' theatre without walls slogan.

After a brief detour into cubo-futurist theatre (sorry, can't help you with that), he preempts Goffman by considering the theatre of everyday life, Honzl celebrates the new freedoms of scenography and metonymic scenery. Finally, he gets to semiotics.

My understanding of semiotics is that it is a system of signs that, taken collectively, represent meaning. I emphasis context as a defining quality, and my current attempt to learn French by just reading loads of it in the vague hope of getting the general idea is a holistic effort to use the semiotics of a language. 

It's not working. 

In the olden days, anyhow, the scenery of the stage tried to be complete and realistic: those bloody backdrops, the attention to detail, the changes between the scene in the bathroom and the scene in the garden. 

Honzl, had he seen Slope, would have rejoiced in the way that a single chair could be used to evoke multiple different things, depending on who was sitting on it/ throwing it across the room/ trying to use the leg as a sex aid. He talks about a plank being used to represent multiple things in those whacky cubo-futurist shows, and the way that Meyerhold used a crate in Tarelkin's Death to represent 'any number of things, but none of them without ambiguity'.

Back to Slope, where Pamela Carter and Stewart Laing used a
from Slope
minimum of props and scenery to represent Verlaine's posh home, a doss-house in London and a bog in a fancy hotel. 

And here's where Honzl gets helpful: it is the antics of the actor, he notes, that provides the context that gives meaning to the scenography. In Vanishing Point's Tomorrow, for comparison, there was no need for hospital beds, institutional walls and nurses in sexy outfits to conjure the ward. The script did the heavy lifting. 

Honzl nails the magic of Meyerhold's allusive, even indeterminate use of objects: it's not abstract because each object has a very clear function. It was 'the actor's actions' that gave the objects their 'representative function'.

Honzl goes on to give a bit of historical context, noting how the revolution in theatre had stripped away the conventions of the nineteenth century, then hits the reader with another whammy. 

It is in the changeability, he says, of the theatrical sign that the main difficulty of defining theatrical art lies. Definitions of this concept either narrow down theatricality to the manner of expression of our conventional drama... or expand it to such an extent that it becomes meaningless.

The latter is exactly what Schechner does with his 'broad school of performance' position. Once everything is theatre, nothing is. 
(That probably needs unpacking, but would require E-Prime to explain.)

In a semiotic approach, this is a pain. The traditional elements combine to create a system, I think. I know I am watching Romeo and Juliet and not a fight in Sauchiehall Street because Romeo is wearing tights and we are in the Theatre Royal. Get rid of too much semiotic context, and I am not sure whether to applaud the fight choreography or stand between the two men wailing on each other.

Honzl starts cutting away the elements that are essential for theatre. The writer goes, the actor - puppets, anyone? - then the director. He concludes that the semiotic systems change in different historical periods, but are rarely fixed to include all the elements - then Wagner turns up.

As always, I'll remind you that I do do funny posts on this blog, too. 

Anyway, Wagner's gesamtkunswerk, Honzl says, gathers together all different arts and makes theatre the sum of the other arts. In an aside, he invents the theory of post-dramatic theatre... which is kind of cool,  but not really for this article. Still, Honzl is the fucking  man.

And he boots out Wagner by mentioning those solo monologues that just have the actor in them.. no sum of arts there, sunbeam. Plus, and this really impresses me, Wagner has this madcap idea that completely ignores the subjectivity of the audience experience. 

He's too polite to say it, but most productions of The Ring involve periods where the audience either nods off or tries to ignore the music and, if they are lucky, focus on the cute woman in the Valkyrie outfit.

He spends the rest of the essay dismissing other ideas, before admitting that he just wanted to make it all a big problem: he compares theatre to the Trinity (out of Christianity) and laughs at its 'protean' dynamism. As it turned out, this article wasn't about methodology, or semiotics, really. It was about the negative capability of definition, or something. 

However, bullying woman is not a good look, Anonymous.

Why I am not a humanist, sort of.

Following my childish lambasting of the humanist commandments - which had about as  much intellectual rigour as, er, the process by which they were selected - I had one of my inevitable crises of confidence. This one was the classic 'what the hell am I doing with my life' routine. It's not a pretty sight when it happens on the back of the 38 bus.

I thought coming up with my own commandments might help. I got as far as 'learn something new every day' (I am big on education as empowering and intrinsically ethical, even though I know good and smart don't always travel in the same coach). Then I remembered 'think for yourself and question authority'. That bloke who liked his LSD was big on this, but, of course, it is not his authority that makes me respect the idea.

Apart from the obvious attempts to bring back religion by the back door - and trying to combine rational processes and religious activity - my rants against humanism are inspired by a sincere confusion. There seems to be this caricature of the religious thinker: they are naive, pin everything on a metaphysics that is baseless, and are dominated by the idea of God so that everything comes back to it. Believing in God becomes a kind of thought crime, a token of idiocy. 

Why is this such a big deal? As far as Britain goes I thought the whole religion and God thing stopped being relevant in about 1994, when the last Christian revival in the UK crashed into the mean-spirited fundamentalism that it inspired.

Black Mirror

Black Mirror - Charlie Brooker's update of the science fiction anthology series - demands to be taken seriously. If that isn't clear from the serious themes (pornography, the failure of democracy, consumerism's facility for assimilating opposition), then the constant shouting at the audience helps. Not since Ricky Gervais decided to do a 'this is me' moment in the last episode of Extras has the obvious been stated so vociferously - although connoisseurs of the bellowing egotist might find that The Amazing Atheist on YouTube offers more post-millennial angst to the ounce, and more shouting.

Taken as a whole, Black Mirror is an archive of male insecurities: the majority of episodes feature enough female terror to fill a minor torture porn movie (here's a woman being chased by men in masks, here's another coerced into pornography) and all of them reveal a very warped view of women. They are either power hungry and hyper-sexual (the episode about the cartoon character who destroys democracy), child-killers, or happy to keep a simulacrum of their dead husband in the attic, so that he can visit her daughter at the weekends and, presumably, give her a quick pump when she needs
mild female terror

Across the episodes, there is some kind of attempt to critique our media saturated culture: it's the dark mirror of us, get it? 

Unfortunately, the media and technology are intent on fucking up the romantic love of men and women, turning it in a transaction or a weak reflection of 'authentic' love. As for other sexual identities - well, the gays are more likely to turn up in a 1950s' cowboy film.

It's a shame, because Black Mirror has serious points to make. In the episode about the child killer, it casts a cold eye over the commercialisation of justice, in which a terrible crime becomes fodder for entertainment; the one about the future society where an X-Factor type show dominates the lives of the poor proles, there's a painful dissection of how pornography replaces connection and then assimilates protest for profit. Even the weakest show, in which an animated character stands in a by-election and, in the cut of frame, takes over THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD AND TURNS IT INTO A TOTALITARIAN STATE (I felt that needed capitals to stress how the programme comes across), is a taut warning against both the existing democratic malaise and the danger of replacing politicians with puppets.

Brooker's writing is, despite his years as a TV critic, bloody terrible. One episode was written by one of them off Peep Show, and while he can't entirely be blamed for that, the entire series is filled with heavy handed rants and dismal structuring. The episode where a prime minister has to fuck a pig on TV revels in a series of scenes in which people watching him pumping the pig and make faces, interspersed with images of empty streets: it is as dramatically exciting as the current Celtic team. Meanwhile, the plots, the gimmicks, the big ideas, are a grab bag of Twilight Zones cast-offs and Philip K Dick riffs. Despite this, it still manages to be one of the most important programmes on TV.

That's as much about the shit-pump's ability to churn out mindless pap (something Brooker is attempting to expose), but it is also because Black Mirror does have something to say. The final image from the one where the X-Factor copy absorbs the rage of the protagonist into a fatuous facsimile of anger is melancholic and damning: the child killer episode has an elegantly amoral tone that never settles whether the punishment is cruel or appropriate (it is undeniably a money-spinner, though). The shouting at the audience is a desperate challenge to TV's habit of pandering.

Sadly, Black Mirror is undermined by the way it writes women - IN EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. While it is not clear whether this particular subtext is intended, each episode presents women in a negative light, and takes way too much pleasure in their torture. Perhaps the technology is just a macguffin, and Brooker's real message is to hold a mirror up to the misogyny that underwrites consumerism. Nevertheless, the mirror is horrific... AND HAS NO FRICKING VOLUME CONTROL OR NUANCE.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Vile Arts is available

Gareth K Vile and his associated fractured identities have discovered a gap in their calendar. If anyone would like to invite him to events over the Christmas period (Boxing Day, New Year, whatever), he will come along and live tweet his experience - and then write a review afterwards... get in touch via

Appropriation Squared

some appropriation, yesterday
This is like my post-script to my previous thoughts on the Iggy Azalea/ Azaelia Banks beef. I had a look at the commentary by Aamer Rahman. I know it is a serious matter, but I hoped a comedian would put a few more jokes into his lectures.

Appropriation can take (at least) two forms. In one, we have the stealing of a culture's forms, like what Iggy has been accused of doing. In two, we have the adaptation by an oppressed group of their oppressor's cultural forms.

A good example of this is the way in which writers in post-colonial societies use the language of their former colonial masters to explore their own culture. I think the novels of Chinua Achebe are a fine place to start: and Achebe even had a crack at western critics for the way that they interpreted his work.

Wole Soyinka's Bacchae is worth a look, too. He takes a Greek classic and reworks it in an African context. And there's that time when I dressed up in my mother's underwear and stomped about the house shouting 'tidy your room, wash the dishes' in a high-pitched voice.

This kind of appropriation is usually a liberating tactic: it challenges the dominance of colonial culture, and demonstrates the resilience of marginalised groups. Burlesque, with its roots in the mockery of high art, references a time when working class culture appropriated the fancy-pants tropes of opera and ballet.

Against this, we have stuff like Iggy's appropriation of hip hop from a position of power. I had a listen to her album yesterday. It certainly appropriates the beats that Missy Elliot used to have on her tracks with the Neptunes, that low-down, sparse and sensual bass and chattering percussion. Iggy  ruins the tunes with a caterwauling vocal that manages to be both mannered and piercing. She appears to be the missing link between Maria Carey and Genesis P.

I think it is pretty clear that the music is not the issue here: Iggy has been making racist comments (racist in the sense that they caricature Azaelia Banks and other rappers). It might be worth poking at Iggy's music to see whether the way she appropriates hip hop in a racist manner - stripping away the nuance and context and exaggerating stereotypes. 

Hang on, I am drifting back into that beef. Sorry.

My new favourite writer (this week) Tom Hawking used the beef as a platform to consider 'authenticity' in pop - he mainly has a crack at the superannuated rock critic Robert Christau for his complete lack of contextual knowledge. And these two versions of appropriation, sat next to another one I just found on Google (it describes the use of found objects, like Marcel Duchamp did, and a bunch of lazy fuckers in the past century), open up that old chestnut, THE REAL. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Go and Read Hawking

One last go on this, and then I am done (apart from roundly condemning Anonymous - more on that later).

I am really not qualified to make a critique of the race issue in the battles of the rappers. Better commentators have joined in - with any luck, the limited arguments of the protagonist and antagonist are going to be replaced by a more thoughtful chorus and cast, including this messenger speech by Tom Hawking. I wish Jezebel would step up, too: the debate is getting a bit sausage heavy, but their contribution is weak sauce (it attacks Anonymous, but doesn't really follow the detail of their behaviour). 

Anyway, the politics of race in Australia, the UK and the USA are very different: they all have racism, but its history diverges in the three countries. Slavery is a more immediate issue in the US: mistreating aboriginals is the big one in Australia (and the anti-immigration policies the current government seem to love): British racism, which I have some idea about, is a complex mash-up of factors. It's telling that I don't turn the racism I know about into a catch-phrase.

No one’s saying a white Australian girl can’t rap — as I've written before, the idea that any performance of black music by white people is a matter of appropriation or theft only serves to disempower the subaltern, because it depicts them as a passive figures whose culture only exists to be pillaged by whites. This clearly isn't true, and it’s also not reflective of the history of hip hop, which is more multicolored than one might think. And again, if you actually listen to Banks’ interview, she says very clearly that she has no problem with white people making rap music: “I don't give a fuck… do what you want to do.”

Hawking has listened to Banks, and he observes that she isn't talking just about a pop rival, but the generations of oppression that African Americans have experienced. 

Wait a minute: Hawking is good. I am just directing myself to read more of his writing. And then I shall have a go at that Billy Corgan interview.

Hush Yer Mouf

santa claus is a black man

music, please! // 1700-1800 22.12.14

Special Guest: Baudriller-killer sorts out The Azies

'I'd like to thank you for taking the time to come on The Vile Arts, Mr Baudrillard. It is always a pleasure to have you.'

'Thank you, Gareth. While some people might see your refusal to take an absolute position as a dereliction of your role as a critic, I regard it as an impeccable response to the postmodern condition.'

'Thank you, I think. Now, you have something to add in the battle of the rappers, I believe?'

'Indeed, yes. I think that what we are seeing here is a conflict about authenticity and imitation and, as you know, I had a passing interest in these ideas.'

'An interest in so far as you deconstructed them?'

'Exactly. Let me delineate. The crux of this row - if we can have such a thing, in a debate that seems to flying off in several hot topic directions - is between the ideal of Azealia Banks' music being real hip hop, and Iggy Azalea's being a pop appropriation.'

'There is also the hierarchy there: that Banks is more talented, more authentic...'

'Pause just there. Banks' music is seen as being a sacrament: it is a reflection of the real, of life, of the hip hop tradition: its value comes from its connection to something concrete.'

'In hip hop terms, it keeps it real.'

'Although her collaboration with Ariel Pink, who is a maverick rock musician who uses an ironic take on musical traditions does disconnect her somewhat from at least some of that sacramental order.'

'So, Banks represents an ideal of the real... the association of sacrament suggests holiness.'

'That is why the sacramental order is concerned with purity and authenticity: to deviate from its order is a form of heresy.'

'This makes Iggy Azalea a heretic?'

'You are probably putting words in my mouth, but I would suggest that Iggy Azalea's music is being described as a 'perversion' of the sacramental order. Instead of elucidating the culture, Iggy is obscuring it, remaking it. It could be classified as a simulacrum.'

'In that it claims to represent the real, but actually doesn't?'

'There might be a few questions here about whether Iggy makes any claims to represent real hip hop, but we can take her inclusion in The Grammy awards for best hip hop artists as evidence that she does.'

'It seems an open and shut case: Azealia is real, Iggy isn't.'

'It would be if you were living in the Roman Empire. But you aren't. It's late capitalism time, consumerism is the dominant ideology, and the function of media in consumerist society is to disconnect the signifier from the thing in itself. This process has gone so far, we have no idea what is real anymore.'

'I am thinking of those adverts for alcohol. The people in them are having a high old time - there's romance, maybe fireworks, and plenty of beauty. But the reality of alcohol is pissing the bed, hangovers, bad sexual choices and having a fight in the car park, with a fucked liver.'

'We could read those adverts as the fantasy of an alcoholic, under the impression that they are walking on the beach with a supermodel, when they have actually passed out in the gutter and are about to suffer hypothermia.'

'So - are you saying that Banks' claims to authenticity are spurious?'


I Just Want this to End (part 4)

I regret ever getting into this beef. I have no answers, I am confused as to whether there are any answers, and everyone involved keeps talking like there are such things as 'authenticity' and 'appropriation'. 

There are, however, three men who got involved - since they are men, we can take their opinions more seriously than these bickering girls, right, fellas?

First up, we have Q-Tip. It's a shame that Q-Tip used twitter to
deliver his lecture on the history of hip hop, because it makes quoting it difficult (some of the tweets are half a sentence). Quite why Q-Tip can't sit down and write a proper article is a mystery (or an email, if he is really trying to school Iggy). It's not like he has been troubling the world with superb raps lately.

Anyway, Q-Tip's lecture, in another context, would be well cool. He connects the culture of hip hop to a specific period of history, and appreciates how that context defines many of the themes of the music. He recognises the depth of hip hop culture, and sees it as an integrated aesthetic. Most crucially, hip hop has a social importance and is the expression of a particular community. It's a nice introduction to the form - smooth as his better raps, and a nice balance of his personal understanding and wider discussions on hip hop. 

Surprisingly, Iggy takes him down. Like the joker behind the false Mary Brennan account on twitter, Q-Tip isn't providing a public service, he is trolling her. He is showing off how clever he is (which he is), and Iggy replies that the whole thing is patronising, treating her like a little girl who hasn't a thought in her head. 

Earlier on, Eminem contributed a sagacious rap, in which he said something that sounds like a rape threat. Even if he has been doing this since he was relevant, it's not a good look. Iggy could have got me totally onside when she replied that she was sick of hearing this kind of thing, if she hadn't added she wanted to hear more about young women making money. Of course, having Eminem promise to give you one is always going to give you the moral high-ground, expose the misogyny of the music business, et cetera. 

Finally, chimed in. He was on Iggy's side, seeing her appropriation of hip hop as positive, comparing it to Blondie's Rapture as an example of how hip hop is a global property. Mind you, isn't he a judge on The Voice now? That doesn't make him an icon of hip hop, more trash culture? I haven't seen it, but I presume that, like most TV talent shows, it puts a premium on matters technical (like singing in tune) then cultural (like having an emotional connection with the material).

Actually, I saw some bloke off The Voice in a pantomime a few weeks ago. He had a confident delivery and a sweet vocal range. Then I watched his video on The Voice and he was a screaming harridan. I don't think it is a show that brings out the subtle nuance of the great vocalists. 

But that isn't the point. There is a final organisation to mention. Anonymous. The hackers.

Obviously, the governments of the world have chilled out lately, because Anonymous had time to threaten Iggy, instead of attacking the injustices of the state and multinational corporations. I'll get into that debacle in another post, but the bullying tone they employed put me right off having a revolution with them. And it emphasised that while there are questions of privilege and opportunity that are offered to young white women, the patriarchy likes nothing more than having a go at them. 

Even if the original beef has some substance, these contributions
are just more of the same masculine dismissal of pop that has buggered criticism ever since the first man realised that pop music was messing with his erection. While I don't want to slip into a simplistic reading of patriarchy - there is currently a dialectical tension between its oppression and feminist resistance which is actually quite encouraging - when it rears its head, it's familiar and consistent. 

Getting Subjy with two Azies

This is hard work. I am trying to avoid making too many aesthetic claims about the artists in question: whether I like it or not, the relative critical worth of Iggy and Banks is subjective. As Mark Boyle from BHP pointed out when I kept playing Iggy's videos: 'this music is not for us.' 

(He didn't mean that in any cultural sense, just that some pop music has an intended audience that doesn't include Glasgow's top rock DJ and a semiotician with a fetish for performance art.)

The question of whether Iggy is performing blackface or just making generic pop might be beyond my ability to discern. I am, however with Lodge, Rahman et al when they consider Iggy's music as an appropriation of hip hop. But since I live in a postmodern milieu, I'm not sure whether this is a priori a bad thing. 

Hip-hop is now so global, a passive listener would be forgiven for not being familiar with the politics of race relations, Lodge continues. But even if you look at this situation oblivious to the issues, it’s not hard to see that something has gone wrong.

Azealia Banks is making creative, boundary pushing music that deserves awards, whilst Iggy Azalea’s music is dull, formulaic pop. Yet it’s Iggy who is being hailed by Forbes as "one of hip hop’s most exciting new artists". I'd hazard a guess that 70 per cent of Iggy Azalea’s appeal is based on the fact that she is a conventionally attractive white woman doing work that’s associated with black men. She captures the imagination of white consumers. It’s a gimmick.

I broadly agree with Lodge here although - at the suggestion of my man Psignal, I am listening to Azealia Bank's album. I really loved 212, but I am not sold on Broke with Expensive Tastes as 'boundary pushing music.' Tracks like Heavy Metal and Reflective has a harsh rhythmic energy and an eclectic orchestration, which graft EDM intensity onto a bold, sexual aggression, while BBD recalls an updated version of Missy Elliot's tracks with the antics - coarse, intelligent music for the club, all rattling percussion and snarled whispered. But it is anyone's guess what she was thinking when she recorded Nude Beach A Go Go

I'm also worried about 'the gimmick.' Most of pop music is a gimmick. To challenge myself, I am going to list ten artists and define them by their gimmick. A gimmick is another word for a unique selling point.

Lady Gaga: she's pop, but she's well art.
Public Enemy: the political commentary you can dance to.
Led Zeppelin: it's the blues, but toughened up.
The Wurzels: they have West Country accents.
Ariel Pink: he records Kim Fowley tracks, which are kitsch and poppy.
The Bee Gees: it's disco, but they are straight men.
Amanda Palmer: oh, she's so fucking alternative.
Steve Albini: he's all about the honest rock sound, man.
Miles Davis (1970s): it's jazz, but with rock ambitions.
Miles Davis (1950s): it's jazz, only cool and laid back.

And as for the list of artists who sell their music through a filter of soft porn imagery...

I suppose what I am saying is: taking sides in this beef means assuming that subjective opinions have authenticity. And that's got me on the phone to Baudrillard.

Iggy Azalea/ Azaelia Banks and Me (part 2)

She accused Banks of playing the race card - and, by branding her a bigot, she actually wandered into reverse racism territory. Her response didn’t take into account Banks’ political points. Instead, it was shaped to make Banks look like the angry black woman - jealous, bitter and obsessive.
This retort comes from a blonde, Australian woman who raps in a voice imitating a black American. Watching one of her music videos is like watching a modern day version of the blackface minstrel show.

Strong words here from Renni Edo Lodge, in her breakdown of the Iggy Azalea/ Azaelia Banks feud. It might be worth doing a close reading of this article: the use of names gives a clue as to where Lodge's sympathies lie (as if accusing Iggy of being a minstrel didn't).

I am still following this, via its media representation (the reality behind it might just be two rappers having a chuckle as they establish their respective identities through a performed dialectic of difference, natch). It brings up all sorts of questions that I can't answer, about race, culture difference, aesthetics and that. Let's dive back in.

Black face is a serious accusation: like those actors who think having a straggling beard and rubbing their hands together is acting Jewish, doing blackface is mocking an entire culture (unless done by Molly Dancers). How does Lodge back this up?

In his post White Rapper FAQ, comedian Aamer Rahman writes: “Blackface was all about white people acting out caricatured, fetishized depictions of black people for the entertainment of white audiences. Iggy Azalea, Kreashawn etc. are all about… well, you get the picture. Their entire careers rely on them perpetually acting, talking and behaving like college students at an ironic-not-racist-but-actually-racist ‘Ghetto Fabulous’ themed frat party.”
He continues: “A white rapper like Iggy Azalea acts out signifiers which the white majority associates with black culture - hyper sexuality, senseless materialism, an obsession with drugs, money and alcohol – as well as adopting clothing, speech and music – as a costume that they can put on and discard at will. It’s a cheap circus act.” Quite.
I get it: she apes the surface behaviours of hip hop artists, but fails to recognise the broader context. Rahman's definition is not entirely historically accurate, though: there were African American performers who did blackface, and the minstrel song was often performed by black artists. That does not make it okay (Frederick Douglass commented on its racism early on), but it does mean that not only white performers can be accused of it. Anyone who performs a caricature of blackness (and probably for the amusement of a white audience) is doing blackface.

Rahman then freaks me out: 'signifiers which the white majority associates with black culture - hyper sexuality, senseless materialism, an obsession with drugs, money and alcohol.' Er - I guess I am not this notional white majority. I associate hyper-sexuality with pop starlets (Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus), rock musicians (Robert Plant before his face transplant, him off Kiss) and Russell Brand. I guess there is a narrative somewhere that associates black culture with hyper-sexuality, but even those artists who do bang on about banging (R Kelly? Does Kanye? Sir Mix-a-Lot?), I tend to see it as being about them rather than the culture they come from.

'Senseless materialism': that's interesting. I read an article that criticised Lorde for complaining about conspicuous consumption in pop - the gist was that, as a white woman, Lorde did not have the authority to question hip hop's aesthetics. This area is really complicated... I am making Veronica Bayetti Flores' argument a bit simplistic, but she suggests that there is a reason for the celebration of meaningless materialism in hip hop, rooted in the culture's history of poverty. But, yeah, I see how that's an element that can be caricatured.

'An obsession with drugs, money and alcohol' sums up most of my friends, one way or another. And I do see all of these things in Iggy's videos. I'd add that they have shit acting and a very dubious exploitation of sexual stereotypes. Although I haven't managed to get through a whole one, because I cum in the first two minutes.

That was a joke. I am trying to get to the bottom of this...