As an artist, the worst thing you can really try to do is stuff your art into a genre where it doesn’t belong. This may sound odd at first, but this is the way that completely disingenuous crap gets created on a pretty daily basis. Okay, a big, glaring example of this is that guy from Blink 182 who decided his new band was going to be the next U2. BUT, here’s the problem…Our buddy in Blink isn’t really that versatile of a musician, and as a result, he had songs that sounded like Blink 182 with dumb guitar effects, and UNLIKE Blink, his new band sounded hopelessly contrived. (Just for the record, I hate U2 and I’m in no way saying it’s harder to be U2 than to be Blink. I’m saying it’s impossible for the guy from Blink to become a U2 type, capice?) This new band sounded (sounds) desperately like someone attempting to sell the emperor new clothes. You can’t just put some chorus on the guitars and tell people you’ve been listening to the Arcade Fire and call it indie rock. Only the dumbest people on earth will follow you there. And they have, so that’s cool, but that doesn’t make it any less crappy.
Have you seen the movie ‘The Professional’? Now, everyone talks about how great this turd is, and it never ceases to amaze me. This movie, for those who don’t know, is about a little girl (a young princess Amadala) who falls in love with a trained assassin who decides, between long, pointless shots of him gauzily ironing his shirts, that he’s going to teach her to kill. It’s one of the dumbest, most strained, unnatural movies I’ve ever seen. There’s never a moment where anything that any character does seems motivated by anything other than adhering to the pitch that the greasy Hollywood studio turd threw at the other greasy Hollywood studio turd, which was essentially “it’s like the karate kid but with some molester/sexual tension undertones and guns instead of karate.” Yeah, I know this is an imperfectly fashioned metaphor. Take it up with the rest of the dorks that like this piece of garbage movie on your message board. I’m not attempting to convince anyone that they should stop liking the Professional, I’m merely pointing out that it sucks. It really, really attempts somehow to be an art film. There are so many scenes, pointless, completely labored, chorus-on-the-guitars-in-the-guy-from-Blinks-new-band-style-scenes where he’s ironing, or writing, or staring off into space. What’s the message? He’s a regular guy, and he’s lonely and he misses a woman’s touch? So he trains an eleven year old to kill, huh? Great idea. Good economy in story telling too. Do you hear how dumb it sounds? It’s actually somehow dumber. This is what happens when you stuff your art into the wrong box. This should have been a crappy popcorn movie, and maybe it would have been great fun, but it tries to be some sort of French ennui piece and as a result, well, I’m wasting my precious moments while my baby sleeps complaining about it, fifteen years after it came out. Fuck man. I need a new hobby.
So things don’t have to be that good to be great. They just have to know what they are and exploit that to all the advantages. Okay, like an ugly porn star that’s enthusiastic is a lot more palatable than some hot porn star who somehow has the notion that she’s too good for the porn she’s in. Here’s a little social measuring stick. The porn you’re in defines you, not the other way around. This can be applied to almost anything. Look at the biggest piece of social porn that’s been created in the last twenty years: Of course I’m referring to “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.” Those guys went into that shit as 4 sort of enigmatic, slightly out of touch rock gods and came out of it COMPLETE LOSERS. My lifestyle determines my deathstyle? That’s the lyrics you’re writing now? Jesus fucking Christ. There was a time when James Hetfield was (like it or not, everyone) one of the most innovative rock musicians on the planet, and now he’s this fucked up looking rock and roll colonel Sanders who writes songs that dudes in Metallica tribute bands are going back to being CPA’s because of.
It’s the porn you’re in. You’re not going to elevate the interracial gangbang film with your presence. You’re simply announcing to the world that you are now a person who does interracial gangbang porn. And that’s fine. Okay, I’m in no way dissing that choice. Someone has to do it. Nothing sadder than throwing a gangbang and no one showing up. So I hear. But I’m off topic to be sure, so what I was saying is, things don’t have to be good to be great, but self awareness and figuring out how to maximize what you’re working with is paramount to everything when it comes to creating anything, from the Mona Lisa to Choco-vanilla Anal Parade 76.
The Ramones are a great example of artists who exploited a limited artistic boundary to excellent effect. So is the movie Revenge of the Nerds. It’s got everything, great jokes, timely archetypal, yet believable characters, tits, a rap, a gay character who’s actually sympathetic in the early 80’s in a movie geared towards teen boys…I mean, you may think I’m being glib, but that’s a fucking awesome movie. And it’s not because it’s ‘great’. It’s because it knows exactly what it is, and it excels at that.
Dostoyevsky is a great writer. The book “Demons,” though, is pretty hard to read. I don’t know if it’s too arch for my tastes or if it’s just too theoretical, but I don’t get the compelling exploration of a psyche that I think is Fyodor’s stock in trade from Demons. I don’t know what my point is, because I’m not suggesting it’s bad, I guess I’m just pointing out that things can be technically good without being enjoyable (examples: Steve Vai, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jerry Seinfeld, Cody Lane) Now, on the other side of the coin, we have someone like David Sedaris. He’s a great writer too, but his writing is great precisely because he knows what he can do, and he pushes THOSE boundaries, rather than pushing boundaries he should just leave alone. This is the disconnect for a lot of people. I’m not saying you can’t explore and expand your horizons as an artist, but let’s say you’re Bobby Brown…You really think that you’re gonna ‘go country’? That’s just a bad idea. You’re an RnB dude, take RnB to bold new places…fuck, infuse some country if that’s your bag, but do it from the perspective of Bobby Brown, not some fucking dumb country avatar or whatever. Okay, again, off topic.
David Sedaris writes great, funny stories about pretty much nothing. Recently (actually, about 3 years ago, I guess) I read a story about him going to his crazy sister’s house and doing all the dishes and feeling bad for her life and it was obvious that he felt guilty about writing about it. And the story was no good. Sedaris excels at saying shit without fear of reprisal, or writing shit like no one’s reading it. That’s what he’s great at. The minute he becomes self aware as an AUTHOR exploiting someone else’s life to entertain strangers, he’s broken the proverbial seal, and it just isn’t as much fun.
Okay, and there’s also shit like the Butterfly Effect which is so bad and so hopelessly unaware that it just becomes fucking AWESOME. That’s one of the most fun movies in the world, whether you’re laughing at Ashton Kutcher winking at the camera during his scenes where he pretends to be inept with the ladies (as if, everyone!) or that big fat dude from My Name is Earl playing a bad ass goth guy (which is fucked up for so many reasons it almost makes my head spin) you can’t go wrong with the Butterfly Effect.
Wow, this is long today. I have my class tonight and my skit is about inter office dating on a porn set. Should be funny. But it won’t be. Ah well…They can’t all be happy days, right?