Thursday, October 2, 2008

Authenticity Matters

When you are young, "authority" and the "establishment" are vile words reserved for those who reside in a different age bracket and many of us vow - no matter how old we get - to never end up in that mindset. The sad reality, however, is that we in the industrialized world are participants in the very "machine" that we rage against. This "machine" can't run without consumers and we are all, for the most part, major consumers. It is a symbiotic relationship that we can't escape which is why many of us long for the proverbial "exception to the rule" - that rare intellectual and/or creative soul who exists on the fringes of society.

Would 2Pac's music have been taken seriously had he grown up in the suburbs? I doubt it. Why? Because authenticity matters. Amy Winehouse's neo-soul classic - Back To Black - is not an amazing album solely based on her talent alone, though talented she is, but because of the self-destructive nature that coexists with her talent which screams authenticity. It's a double-edged sword that seems more and more likely to consume her with each passing day and rather than wish her well, we simply ask for more.

And why did this particular photo of Metallica lead singer, James Hetfield, coming out of Armani cause such an uproar?

Because twenty some odd years ago the people in Armani would have called the cops on him the second he walked through the door and Metallica's music, at the time, reflected that. However fair or unfair you may think that is to Mr. Hetfield, once again the issue boils down to one of authenticity.

Yet nothing stirs more debate in regards to authenticity than the strange bedfellows that are commerce and art. I assure you that there's not one admirer of the Sex Pistols who aren't cringing at Johnny Rotten's latest foray which premiered last night on the BBC...

And why shouldn't they? The lead singer of the Sex Pistols - a band that sent shockwaves across England and thumbed it's nose at the "establishment" - is now a spokesperson for butter?? Very few people in this world can build a legacy similar to that of the Sex Pistols and yet he's managed to destroy it with a thirty second spot. Johnny Rotten's explanation?

I for one am proud to be British and I'm proud to get behind a proper British brand. That's why I'm supporting Country Life butter. People know I only do things that I want to or that I believe in and I have to do it in my own way. I've never done anything like this before and never thought I would but this Country Life ad was made for me and I couldn't resist the opportunity.

This can only be translated one way - he wanted the money. Just say so. Why do artists often backpedal when called out for taking the almighty advertising dollar? Because they know that authenticity matters.


Flubber Yang said...

In the immortal words of Bill Hicks "... Any performer who sells a product on television is for now and all eternity removed from the artistic world. I don't care if you shit Mona Lisa's out of your ass on cue, you've made your choice."

PopCultureJihad said...

Douglas, I doubt that there is a more appropriate quote out there for this blog than that one...