Media Is Full Of Shit
thoughts about the current media culture
The UK edition of Vogue recently interviewed Berlin's chaos sisters Chicks on Speed, who were not too amused by the published results. Kiki Moorse of CoS called the article "very shallow" and Alex Murray-Leslie put it straight: "The article in Vogue is shit! Shame Kodwo [Eshun, a very appreciated writer on electronic music] asked us some really thought-out questions... Why do magazines always do this? He is a great writer but has obviously been censored by the main editor."
This is not too surprising. Probably in Vogue they thought: "Wow, this sort of thing is trendy this season, so we have to have a story", then edited the hell out of it to cram more ads to the mag. Characteristically, this is how mainstream media usually works. It's the problem of this short attention span/lowest common denominator/soundbite/flavour of the month/recycled retro styles/belle du jour/trendy media culture.
Make them up -- break them down. British pop tabloids have always been notorious for this - for example, now they are mad about this NYC band called The Strokes, who are basically a bunch of pretty boys playing VU/Television/Talking Heads/new wave type of recycled retro rock, but when it's time for their "difficult second album", the backlash is probably imminent.
Media are like thieving magpies crazy after the latest glamorous, glittering thing, with an attention span of five seconds (Warhol's fifteen minutes is old-fashionably long already), and nothing is worse than being passé, last season's fashion, has-been. It's amazing how they have created an art form out of superficiality, rapidly passing images and impressions, where nothing else matters than your digitally manipulated face and being über-cool. They are not interested in any sort of deeper insight, and the talk about such awfully boring things as historical backgrounds or connections or alternative points of view is totally out of the question. Anyway, who the fuck reads books any more?
Or then, they embrace "alternative lifestyles" with full arms and create manipulated lifestyles out of them, give them the disservice of becoming trendy (punk, grunge, electronica). A hip, cool and eco-friendly military-industrial-entertainment complex and bohemian bourgeoisie, here we go.
History has vanished totally and we are living in the eternal now like selfish children who always want new toys. AIDS is not the biggest plague of our time -- it's the self-inflicted ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, created by life-long habit of channel-surfing and the desperate seek for new toys and ever-changing hedonistic, narcissistic pleasures. As a culture we can't concentrate any more because of everything becoming ultra-fragmentary to the point of chaos. All that matters to us spoiled brats is ME, ME, ME. Everything has to happen NOW (or preferably, fifteen minutes ago) and HERE.
But don't throw away your pathetic pop singles you bought when you were fifteen: in another fifteen years they become really cool again under the all-encompassing umbrella of postmodern (which, as a concept, must in itself be passé by now, or at least cleansed of all possible intellectual pretensions) "irony" and people tend to forget so fast, anyway -- now in the recycled nostalgia industry we have advanced to the early 1980s, next there are probably padded shoulders and pastel colours and Phil Collins records, and so on, until the industry has nothing else to recycle than the old recycles. An alchemical process of turning shit into gold.
I don't know what the solution would be. The oft-quoted example of chaos theory says that butterfly's wings can create a storm. With pHinnWeb I have tried to create a sort of alternative media, an outlet for differing views and culture -- or at least, try to smuggle them into the mainstream; an exercise in futility in itself, as noted earlier -- but still, it all feels so insignificant in the long run, a drop in the ocean, because it's usually labeled under "dance music/techno/rave culture"/blaah blaah and becomes inevitably just another part of the entertainment industry. And I'm not personally immune to the fashions and trends, it has to be admitted. (My TV breaking has probably been the most significant thing happening to me in ages, though.) But maybe some little ideas would seep through every now and then, anyway -- wouldn't that be something, at least?
Nevertheless, I'll keep on trying, and you are welcome to join with your own views and opinions.
- pHinn, 28 September, 2001.