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Rayon Is A Punk Rocker: Arcade Fire’s New Video Fucking Sucks.

19 May

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Arcade Fire is one of those bands that everyone used to try to get me into for years and I was like “naaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”. Probably for the best, because it probably would have bothered me more to have a band I actually like churn out yet another piece of what Kat Blaque totally nails as “trans pity porn“. As I have admitted more than once, I’m kind of a guilty-pleasure sucker for the genre. But this campy paint-by-numbers bullshit just hit all the wrong buttons in the wrong order for me. I’m already willing to say this is the second worst music video I’ve seen all year.

So like first of all, as a trans woman born and raised in Texas, I am sick to fucking death already of the whole “gender-non-conforming person in redneck hell” trope. Like there isn’t homophobic and transphobic assholes all over “enlightened” big cities, but no we gotta keep that self-righteous white liberal boner going because you know what those dumb hicks are like. And it’s like, I’ve lived this and women in my community have died this way, so it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see yet again a watered-down version of what some jackass imagines life is like for someone like me in the south. Just, ew.

But hold on a second, lemme tell you a thing or two about what I actually like about this video. Andrew Garfield manages to make little pouty faces at some interesting points that kind of hit home… invoking sad mirror feels while trying on clothes you have no practice wearing-

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-those awkward first times out in public where you have to unlearn male social posture defense mechanisms to fight off your own uneasiness and sense of vulnerability, convinced everyone is looking at you disapprovingly-

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-and just invoking this sort of wordless sorrow and desire to fit in somehow to a world where it feels impossible to do so-

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But like, when it comes down to it, this video is ultimately more an exploration of gender performativity/expression than identity. None of the characters, including the protagonist, is given exposition past the flimsiest of stereotypes. Even this fucked up Thai love song manages to give some (kinda creepy and busted) backstory to it’s trans character, but then it’s also like three times as long.

Basically what happens in the video is that the protagonist makes a bunch of sad faces into the mirror while deciding what to wear until she decides to go with what appears to be a Leg Avenue costume of Jessica Simpson in Dukes Of Hazard-

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She walks to the nearest bar, where she pouts a bit and then she’s (probably) beaten to death.

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Seriously, that’s her entire story. She’s sad and she’s dead. Also, jazz hands.

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Then, everything gets stupid. She finds herself alone in the bar, doing an interpretive Flashdance, because why not. And then this bullshit happens:

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YOU

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FUCKING

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KIDDING ME

So like I have to imagine that the thought process that went behind the scenes of this video went like this:

VIDEO DIRECTOR: “Transgender stuff is trendy right? Let’s make a sensitive portrayal of their lifestyle to look like hip LGBT allies!”

*awkward homerotic dance number intensifies*

VIDEO DIRECTOR: “NAILED IT”

So like then the gay cowboys lead the protagonist THROUGH AN ACTUAL RAINBOW DOORWAY OH MY FUCK.

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Where she comes out at an Arcade Fire concert lo0king like a pallette swapped Twiggy Ramirez and oh christ I’m so fucking bored and done with this.

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Avril Lavigne Suddenly Remembers Japan Exists, Forgets How To Music.

22 Apr

If you’re like me, when you hear that a song is a collaboration project between Avril Lavigne and the songwriters from Nickelback and Evanescence, you think “wow that sounds like something too awful to actually exist”. Except, alas, it totally does.

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Yep, that’s Avril Lavigne standing in what appears to be the stock room of a Party City with four Japanese pallette-switched Oompa Loompas. But why tho? From every angle you can approach it, the song and video for Hello Kitty is just awful. It dives into some awful strip-club version of a dubstep break at exactly the places you’d expect the songwriter for Nickelback to have a song break down into an awful strip-club version of a dubstep break. It even has an extended break while Avril literally loses her mind over having sushi prepared for her.

avriljapan3C’mon, girl. It’s just sushi. Please get a grip.

At least when Gwen Stephani was approaching 30 and had a sudden annoying weaboo phase a decade ago, she name-dropped Harajuku and brought attention to performers and fashion designers. She even did the “me photo-opping with 4 identically dressed Japanese women that look positively bored with my white Asian-fetishizing bullshit” thing better.

avriljapan4I’m not even joking.

All this video/song seem to express is HOLY SHIT GUYS HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF THIS THING CALLED JAPAN THAT JUST CAME OUT. Except that it’s not even really about Japan, just washed out shots of them awkwardly dancing in that generic cupcake room-

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-and washed out shots of her walking through some generic candy shop

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and washed out shots of her on some generic street in Japan(?) waving off camera like a harvest festival queen in the loneliest parade ever-

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The video debuted today and has already been pulled from Youtube, presumably because of the collective groan it recieved from everyone with the slightest bit of taste. I know it’s sort of trite and pointless at this point to refer to a piece of pop music as bland or generic or soul-less, or to have any sort of social expectation for said pop music entities, but this is just bad.

Let’s Talk About Negativland’s “TRUE/FALSE” tour; Spring 2000

26 Jan

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THESE GUYS ARE FROM ENGLAND AND WHO GIVES A SHIT

Lemme tell you about one of the most important formative experiences of my adult life. It was May 16, 2000, at Stubbs BBQ in Austin, Texas, where I was to finally experience the band Negativland for the first time. I was almost 23,  living in Copperas Cove, putting together the 7th issue of my comic Why I’m Not An Artist, and working as a flow solder operator. It was also about a year into my first attempt at living full time as a woman. It was a pretty exciting time period in my life, all things considered.

Before then I’d had sporadic attempts at doing live music with a short, chaotic noise music project called DEVIANCE that I performed in with my brother and a high school friend. That’s an entirely different story that may get explored next time I get nostalgic. At this point, I was satisfying my urge to do performance art by being a drag queen, and rarely recorded, much less performed, music. Little did I know this show would change damn near everything I thought I wanted to do with myself as an artist.

Keep in mind, I’d never had a chance to actually hear their music before. I’d only heard of them a couple years before from a review of their album Dispepsi, a concept album about advertising oversaturation, which simultaneously sounded like the stupidest and most brilliant thing ever.  I was only aware of their reputation: booted from Black Flag’s SST label, nearly sued to oblivion by U2, etc. I visited their website regularly, however, and found out about the show there.

The show itself was amazing on a level I still have trouble describing. From the moment they started, they got a couple hundred people to sit the fuck down in the dirt and shut up for two hours straight, with a short puppet show intermission in the middle. There was simply no choice, the whole experience was so overwhelming it was impossible to concentrate on anything else. The entire stage was draped with white sheets where dozens of videos played at once behind, in front of, and on top of the band.  Most of the songs they performed were from Dispepsi, but there was also stuff that wasn’t released until “No Business” and a few tracks that were never released in any format I can track down (such as the “Loop That Goes On Forever” song, as well as “Breathe In, Breathe Out”).

I was completely stunned. I’d never seen anything like it. I recall thinking “I don’t know what the fuck that was, but that’s what I want to do with my life.”

I stayed in contact with them through email and at one point even exchanged letters with them-

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Their whole aesthetic of seeming chaos and indifference covering such heavily-calculated intricacy redefined my approach to, well, damn near everything.