Open Thread for April 9, 2010

This week’s Open Thread is coming in too fast! Pull up, pull up!

Quick bursts; no questions or pics this week. You’re literate folks, though; you can keep up:

  • Malcolm McLaren, the British producer responsible for discovering the Sex Pistols, died of cancer at age 64 on Thursday.

  • The Addams Family Musical opened this week on Broadway. Reviews are largely mixed, even with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as the loco parentis.

  • We’re breaking our promise not to talk about the Tiger Woods scandal because this is less about scandal and more about sport: Tiger Woods returned to the Masters this week, trailing Fred Couples by 2 strokes as of this writing.

  • And some movies! Opening this week: After.life, a Christina Ricci horror thriller that looks awful; The Runaways, a critically acclaimed biopic of Joan Jett and Cherrie Curie starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning; and Date Night, the Steve Carell / Tina Fey, are-you-sure-they-haven’t-worked-together-before, it’s-not-that-I-doubt-you, I’m-just-going-to-hit-IMDB-real-quick, you-were-correct, sorry-for-doubting-you action comedy.

It’s a dirty, grungy week of weird families and redemption, apparently. Sound off in the comments, for this is your … open thread.

18 Comments on “Open Thread for April 9, 2010”

  1. Trevor #

    RIP Malcolm, whether you really were the genius behind it all or (as John Lydon believes) a glorified figurehead for all that came from the Pistols’ efforts.

     
  2. Dan #

    Malcom McLaren? Oh no! Who will remind us that the medium is the message now?

     
  3. Chris #

    Dan-

    Well ACTUALLY, the “The Medium is the Message” guy is Marshall McLuhan. I had the same initial reaction at the news, however. Clearly we all still know nothing of his work.

     
  4. Dan #

    Chris-

    Actually, I knew that. I was just too upset to think about the fact that the lead actor from “A Clockwork Orange” had died to think straight.

     
  5. Dan #

    (too many clauses in last post.. not enough proofreading.)

     
  6. stokes #

    No, hang on, let’s roll with this. Resolved: Malcolm McLaren’s discovery/invention/popularization of the Punk Rock genre was more important than the work of any single musician or group of musicians working within the genre. That is, any punk rock song is primarily meaningful through its medium (i.e. in that it is a piece of punk rock, any piece of punk rock).

     
  7. Matthew Wrather #

    Stokes — doesn’t that also set up a meta-discourse about authenticity, i.e., a discourse about whether or not any piece of punk rock actually qualifies as a piece of punk rock?

    The same thing sort of happened with grunge, and again with gangsta rap, and again with any genre of music that relies on identity politics for part of its meaning.

     
  8. stokes #

    Yeah, I think so. In a way the existence of that meta-discourse is what justifies the first claim I made.

    Punk rock seems especially relevant to McLuhan due to the way that it breaks down, to some small degree, the traditional categories of “audience” and “performer,” “producer” and “consumer.” (But note that consuming the Sex Pistols via the anarchic concert has a very different significance than consuming them via the Itunes Music Store™. The Medium is the Mosh-age?)

     
  9. Jon Eric #

    I took a course in modern music once. We started with the likes of Anton Webern, but quickly moved up through the 80s and 90s, and broadened out from “classical” style music out to a wide variety of genres. We spent about a week on punk rock, which was very enlightening – I had never really understood just how much identity politics was wrapped up in it.

    We then argued about the controversy that seems to arise every so often about “authenticity.” My professor argued somewhat contentiously that, for instance, recording “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” was pretty much the most punk-rock thing Green Day could have done at that point in their career, due to the fact that Billy Joe Armstrong clearly didn’t give a crap what anyone thought about him at that point.

     
  10. Trevor #

    Clearly there’s an issue of authenticity with punk rock, and the Sex Pistols in particular, because they were manufactured by McLaren at least once he realised that there was money to be made in shock and outrage. Every time you hear about a celebrity, it’s rarely because they’ve got a stable marriage and wonderful inner life; mostly it’s because they screw up and fuck up in the public eye. McLaren knew that, and he positioned the Pistols to be anathema to what was going on at the time (slick Seventies showbiz). John Lydon wrote in his autobiography that he didn’t wear safety pins in his pants to be cool; he did it because his pants and clothes would fall apart otherwise. But that, and the leather jacket (which Lydon claims he never wore one, and it does seem like Sid and maybe Steve Jones were the only ones in the band who did), became the symbol because people could identify it as “punk.” So the message became subserviant to the fashion, and McLaren benefited from this because he was an excellent salesman.

    Re: Green Day’s “Good Riddance,” I do think that’s the most “punk rock” thing they’ve ever done (though I’m tired of the phrase “punk rock” being adopted by everyone from Avril Lavigne to any number of emo boy bands). There’s a divide in how to go about becoming a cultural icon, whether you should blaze your own trail or go along with whatever is popular. The Beatles were the first massive British pop group to write their own music and take time with it as a seperate product, not a convenient excuse to go on tour; countless bands began to do the same, some were great and some were not but you can’t say that they innovated in the same way as the Fab Four. “Good Riddance” may have helped lead to the resurrgence of the “acoustic ballad in the midst of a hard-rock album” (a version of the power ballads of the Eighties), but none of those songs were as good or as out-of-left-field as Green Day’s.

     
  11. perich #

    Green Day has always struck me as the band for my generation – not just people of roughly my age, but people within 1 or 2 years of me. “Basket Case” came out in my energetic adolescence; “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” came out when I was graduating high school; “American Idiot” came out when my friends started taking an interest in politics. It’s like I’ve had a personal soundtrack. Which feels like something of a waste, since I appreciate them but don’t really like them.

     
  12. cat #

    Speaking of the Addams Family Musical, and Green Day, and American Idiot…the musical American Idiot with Green Day songs is going to open on Broadway soon. I’m still not sure how you make those songs into a musical and use them to tell a story. Personally, I think most of the jukebox musicals have failed. Back to the Addams Family Musical… It just looks like a vehicle for Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane. The plot seems contrived and not true to the spirit of any of the previous incarnations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ini6m__QkaU

     
  13. Matthew Wrather #

    So we’re always going on about the OTI redesign that’s just over the horizon. Well, it may be getting close. What do you think of this?

    http://bit.ly/OTIredesign

    (There are a few typography snafus that have to do with database encoding. Ignore them.)

     
  14. Gab #

    Wow, it looks like a newspaper website.

    Greenday: “Dookie” was one of my first CDs. Whenever I think of Greenday, though, I think of the difference in subject matter their songs took/take on vs. the songs of their fellows Blink 182. Greenday paved the way for the latter, clearly, which is important, but I don’t think Greenday has really stepped (too far) away from the sort of, “Dude, this is how it is,” attitude they seemed to have started with. However, Blink 182 did a lot of, “My heart has been torn asunder!” throughout its career, and I think that sort of paved the way for groups like Dashboard Confessional, ones that started out lumped with the punk bands, even though their message was VERY different, and their sound was at least somewhat divergent. And then you get sub-genres within the genres, like SCREMO within emo (think Taking Back Sunday). So I guess it’s interesting to think of the big steps from this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy5XR-oxCus

    and its, “I’m so damn bored I’m going blind and this loneliness has to suffice,” to this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDWRU_iy4M0

    and its, “The truth is you could slit my throat and with my one last gasping breath I’d apologize from bleeding on your shirt.”

     
  15. stokes #

    @Gab – I’m pretty sure the newspaperyness is part of the idea. We already have a telegraph (the twitter feed) and not one but two weekly radio broadcasts on the site. Add a newspaper, and OTI will be just a laserdisc away from winning the Dead-Or-Dying-Media Sweepstakes Grand Prize, which I understand is a lovely set of snow tires.

     
  16. lee #

    @Stokes @Gab

    And look out for our upcoming LOL-Iron Man daguerrotype competition!

     
  17. Gab #

    Oh, I meant it as a compliment. Sorry. Mayhap I should have added an, “Awesome!” or something to it.

     
  18. Gab #

    Is that supposed to be like the LOLJoker one?