Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's not "selling out", it's "arriving"

On my buddy Ron's blog, I recently pontificated about the differentiation between the social commentaries that the deceased George Carlin and Bill Hicks used to make. I got kinda long winded (Joe, long winded, no! really!?!), but my point was (and still is) that I agree with Henry Rollin's view point, that "we didn't sell out, we've arrived!" when it comes to large corporations paying personalities, artists, musicians, etc, for their work.

Yes, the corporation is using the beloved / respected / attractive / interesting artists' work to sell (or pimp out) their own products, which may be antithetical or anathema to what that artist might have stood for... or it may be aligned somewhat tangentially with what the artist had originally intended, but just because a corporation is paying someone for their work Does Not make that artist or group a "sell out". It means that the group or the individual who created that original work in the first place, is being paid for their efforts. It's not being stolen, or usurped, in this age of hyper-legalization. Now, if the corporation is directing and censoring the work, then yes, it is selling out - but if it is already created, all the more power to them!

Most of the time, labeling others as a "sell out" is 'sour grapes' (or jealousy, hatred, envy, anger) that someone else is being paid more attention to / making more money / being acknowledged more visibly, by the one who is criticizing - while wearing the mantle of non-conformity and pseudo-individualistic rebellion. "They're lame!" "They've given up their creative spirit to be corporate whores!" "They've conformed to the societal norm, and therefore need to be shunned" "They're not poor like us anymore, and therefore we reject them" - what a load of manure!

When Iggy Pop, or the Ramones, or Southern Culture on the Skids created their original material, they were NOT working for large Corporate Masters, they we're doing their own thing, making music, having fun, doing what they loved to do. Years later, when someone who enjoyed their music thinks it would work well in an advertisement for some product, or they put the song in the credits of some movie, that artist (or whomever they sold the IP rights to their work to) is getting paid for that content.

George Carlin never really gave a crap about what other people cared, as long as they left him alone. He was intensely individualistic, and if you didn't agree with him, that's all well and fine for you. George wouldn't hate you for your different beliefs, he would just make fun of you if he thought it was funny, or ignore you if you were irrelevant to him.

Bill "The Prophet" Hicks was also staunchly individualistic as a comedian and person, but had more of a "if you're not 100% with me, you're an asshole, f-you" sort of mentality from the material I have seen of his - granted I have seen alot more of Carlin's material over many more years. So when I hear Hick's ranting about how anyone who has ever made a commercial is a worthless turd in his drink and a sucker of satan's cock, I see it as self-loathing, wallowing, sort of a "since I am so far out of the main stream, screw the main stream, and screw anyone who likes anything that is successful, I'll be over here abusing and hating myself, and furthering my own demise, f-off everyone!" Bill was funny, and not a self-centered Texan as many from that Republic can be from time to time - but was so brimming with hatred for those who disagree with him, I have a hard time embracing his material in it's entirety, as I do George's work. Both Bill and George were in concurrence that corporate America wants the masses to be complacent and sheepish... which is pretty much the truth, and both hated the foul-weather-patriotism that was virtually non-existent on Sept 10th, but exploded exponentially the next day.

When I was in high school, I heard people say "they're too main stream, they suck!" - and sometimes, that was true. Sometimes, the mainstream DID suck. Sometimes, it didn't suck (Apple, Linux, Fiskars, Honda, organic food, etc, have spent most of their existence outside the 'main stream'). After I got married, I heard my brother in law (who is a formidable tattoo artist, in his own right) say similar things about this artist, or that group, and how he'd never 'sell out' or 'lower his standards'. Now that my son is 21 years old, and makes all of his own choices, I've occasionally heard similar phrases out of his mouth as well, about "those guys are too main stream" or "they used to be good, before they got popular"

...and sometimes, sure, sometimes it IS true that personal integrity can be compromised when the corporate over-lords are directing the artists' output (look at Ministry, as a corporate entity, vs Ministry as Al Jorgenson's own work as a perfect example). But if the work is already generated, and has been around for years, and some corporation wants to pay that artist for including their work in an ad, or a movie, or wherever, and that artist agrees that being included and gets paid for it, then All the More Power To Them. It's about time they get paid for their work. Being a "starving artist" one's whole life sucks. Chopin, Michael Angelo, Mozart, Beethoven, they all had corporate or governmental sponsorship in their eras.

1 comment:

  1. It's neither, it's just [you] being marketed to


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