Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What's the Good of Art That Never Changes?

Thinking about this article.

Here's the deal.

LULU was NOT a "Metallica" album. It was a Lou Reed album on which Metallica performed as his backing band, and they did that because an artist they respected asked them to. I get why people don't dig it, as it's vastly difficult to listen to. It's atonal and Reed's vocals are simply not for everyone.

My original review, if you're interested.

That said, I cannot fathom why people feel the need to continue harping on a creative enterprise, vehemently and aggressively, years and years after they already claim to have written it off. Just look at the comments on that article (I know - NEVER read the comments). It's cool to say "I don't dig it" (I'm still, to this day, not sure if I dig LULU). Hetfield does, the band has, repeatedly, said they do. They reached beyond their comfort zone and tried something different.

We should be encouraging artists to do more of that, even when/if they fail.

No one can argue against the fact that, as a commercial enterprise, LULU landed with a thud. Thing is, did anybody involved with this really think it was going to sell like a "traditional" Metallica album? I highly doubt it. Metallica said yes, and did it, because they wanted to do something different. There will come a time in every artists life where they will ask themselves, "what if I do exactly what I'm not supposed to do?"

When that moment comes, if you're brave enough to actually do it, one of two things usually happens. Either the whole thing is a mess, possibly an interesting one, or it could touch on genius. I classify LULU as the former, with a significant number of tracks that fall into the "interesting" description.

Yet, the band is vilified, for nothing more than taking a risk. No one says you have to like it, but the sheer, vehement hate that tends to spill out on to anything that isn't what we expected, or thought we wanted, seems like a call of surrender, to me. I feel like we, as a culture, are so very trapped in the "more of the same" mindset.

Regurgitate, regurgitate, regurgitate, and I think it's spilling over into a lot of different conversations.

I, like many people, have found myself watching various "fan films" that have cropped up on-line. At first, probably like you, I was in awe of the technical skill on display, the commitment to detail. Who isn't excited to see Batman face down a Predator, or to see a thrilling lightsaber duel. As time went on, however, something began to dawn on me.

What is the point?

I mean, really, what is the point?

Why are obviously talented and resourceful filmmakers regurgitating this stuff, rather than creating new material? Material they can own and possibly profit from? Material that actually moves the genre forward? The sci-fi and fantasy genres are littered with homage and "theft." Instead of making a Batman film, create your own dark avenger of the night. Even better? Make the character a woman, or black, or Muslim, someone reflective of a culture who's entire range of touchstones wasn't set in the 1960's, when it was all set by white men.

Add something to the discussion and the tapestry that is our popular culture.

We don't need a Masters of the Universe movie. We don't need a Thundercats movie. Those were junk culture for my generation. It's only our incredible greediness that's keeping them alive, and the fact that there are way too many professional filmmakers are acting like they just want to make fan films. We shouldn't be up in arms about Jem and the Holograms tanking because "girls need their films,too." The girls of 2015 should most definitely have their own thing, but our generation has get it in our heads that the healthy thing would be for it to not be a re-hash of our thing.

I mean, look, I'm as excited as the next guy about Star Wars next week, but what's cool is that the entire saga is designed to be a generational thing. There's a new generation of heroes for kids to attach themselves to that are theirs with each trilogy. Which, of course, doesn't sit well with the fundamentalists....leading us back to the same kind of anger and hate we were talking about with LULU.

When the digital media revolution happened, there was so much talk about the democratization of media. If music and movies could be made in your bedroom, what amazing stories might we get? What we got was more of the same, and we've become painfully attached to making sure we get more of the same. People like to blame Hollywood and the movie studios, but they respond to what we respond to, and right now, we're plopping our butts in seats to see the umpteenth variation on the Marvel Studios formula. So they do what they've always done...gave us more of the same.

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