Why

Ersatz

7 Jul , 2014   Video

Today was a red letter day.
Given the little time one has to fritter during working hours under the auspices of paid leave, a family trip was called for.
We had our hearts set on an expedition to the local mediaeval theme park, our curiosity about it had to be sated.
That this place exists in a rural Australian setting is a testament to our ability to accept the unreal.
Queueing at the entrance, none of us truly expected to get our ‘Game of Thrones’ once inside. Game of Thrones being an entirely accurate portrayal of European mediaeval geopolitics of course.
And yet there we stood, all of us content to part with ninety fun tokens to gain entry to this placeholder for a culture from another land and time.
Whilst I won’t spoil any surprises for you and yours, it’s worth every cent, should you have a predilection for 70’s style theme parks, full of desperation and mild dereliction; fun, in short.
Evidently, kitsch doesn’t always imitate history so removed from our daily experience.
Artists are free to exploit their own beautiful histories for gain. Witness Melvin Glover in that recent car advert. It hurt to see him do this; ‘The Message’ being a part of my youth that sounded vital and real. And yet, now that Salt-n-Pepa have essentially replicated the same advert, I expected nothing less from them. They were MTV from their inception.
Besides, I’m not perturbed that Melle Mel exploited his own back catalogue for lucre from the utilitarian form of advertising (rather him than a proxy), just that it serves as a reminder that all artists have to negotiate worldly concerns in an era where pastiche is only an internet meme away.
Digital replication and networked dissemination make the processes of appropriation and emotional gratification instantaneous.
No work is involved, no rigour required.
Whilst I am a big fan of artistic endeavours not relying on the observing public having to know the critical history of the work in order to ‘get it’, the sheer speed of absorption of cultural information renders the cold consideration offered by distance a relic from a different time.
Some of the information by which we used to try and assess a work, legitimacy, integrity and artistic intent is consequently harder to gauge than it ever was.
Is it worth the effort any longer?
Who better currently represents the authentic sound of the ghetto – Azalia Banks or Iggy Azalea?
If, like me, you’d sooner express a preference between cat or dog excrement than answer the above question, perhaps it’s time to forgo much corporate cultural output.
Easier said than done for many; corporate well understands the methodology of digital meme dissemination and can buy up swathes of media real estate, spending money on the appearance of ‘indie’ if it will purchase cachet (and it frequently does).
For, as much as we cope very well with kitsch, pastiche and the ersatz, we still seem to yearn for the experience of the real.
However, looking to the long-standing gatekeepers of pre-digital culture to deliver us the urgently vital or genuinely new is no more rational than visiting an Australian mediaeval theme park and expecting anything other than a guilty pleasure.
The self-referential mythology of corporate means it wouldn’t recognise the new if it saw / heard it. Whereas, decoupled from the ‘stream’, we just might.


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