Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We're Gonna Have a TV Party Brought to You by General Motors and Monsanto Tonight - Alright!

Henry sounds a little "fucking" defensive here on the set of his corporate-sponsored cable tv show (said Mr. Holt on his Google-owned blog). What I find most telling is when Rollins poses the question of whether generic music in a car commercial would be better than hearing your favorite rock tune - as if NOT watching the car commercial at all couldn't be an option. Even given his limited perimeters, he's a little quick with his foregone conclusion. He completely bypasses the problem of commercial context by reducing the argument to a simple question of money and exposure. "Don't you want your favorite bands to make money? They're gonna show the commercial anyway, isn't hearing a cool band there better than hearing something boring?"

Since the official hipster position on corporate culture has been refracted and reversed through the lens of modern, "I like Gilligan because I hate it," irony so many times, it's difficult to imagine a context for artistic expression that isn't neck-deep in corporatism, even among those who profess to have "punk" sensibilities. We're conditioned to expect branding and advertising to intrude on artistic expression on some level to even imagine it can survive at all in the marketplace. So it may be inevitable that we adopt the perspective that Henry has. That is, choosing to believe that the artists are somehow empowering themselves by "partnering" with some giant, corporate enterprise, all the while enduring the taunts of the insufferable (and unsophisticated) idealists who cry, "Sellout!"

Far be it for me to suggest that an artist shouldn't be able to do whatever they want with their work, including whoring it out to anyone who'd like a go at it. But context still matters, Henry. It has a significant influence on how the content of a work is perceived. And there are some of us in this noble republic who remember art, music, and literature that benifitted greatly from being free of a blatantly commercial context. These benefits might hard to explain to most Americans today, having never lived any part of their lives logo free, but they were commonly understood at one time.

Rollins may believe that we should celebrate when Black Flag's "TV Party" is used to advertise NBC's Friday night lineup (and I'm certain this or something very similar has happened by now). But I'll side with the dissillusioned Black Flag fan of old on this one - the disgruntled teen who relied on punk rock anthems like that one to feel he wasn't alone in his disgust over the emptiness of mainstream culture. He felt that Henry and his band were not only critics of the Capitalist Overlords, but provided the alternative as well, hustling their LPs through their own SST records, bypassing the major labels and MTVs that insisted a band couldn't survive without their advertising machine. Now Henry's telling that guy he should just be happy that Black Flag is making some money, no matter what that money represents. Forget the opposition we pretended to stand behind. We just wanted corporate approval like everyone else. How dare you get pissy.

Well, this is why we get pissy, Henry:

A musical statement representing the hopes of a generation that yearned to be free of corporate culture completely destroyed in under a minute by the same business criminals Janis was trying to ridicule.

But hey, I'm just happy her corpse made some money.

1 comment:

  1. There's nothing else to say. You tore them a new one.