“…irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit “I don’t really mean what I’m saying.” So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it’s impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it’s too bad it’s impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today’s irony ends up saying: “How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.” Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It is the new junta, using the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself.”—David Foster Wallace (via ivorytowerstyle)
I was listening to a new-ish episode of Bullseye — a podcast I’ve been following for years; it used to be The Sound of Young America — and as soon as Jesse started this Outshot, I was hoping it would be this song. I, too, have had this humble tiny song stuck in my head for years since he first included it in a broadcast.
I want to sing it to my baby whenever I have one, I want to memorize the lyrics and sing them to myself in the car with the windows rolled down while sitting at a red light next to a car full of football players, and I want everyone to know this song exists.
Jesse’s explanation of how the song stuck to his brain so accurately describes my feelings towards this song it’s actually pretty bizarre. This neat little song, even if only in a little teeny way, changed my life and I hope it does the same to you. Enjoy.
I will start with this: I don’t know Zach Braff, and I have no idea if he’s a nice guy or a heel. I saw Garden State and wasn’t nuts about it, and I’m not a huge Scrubs fan. I’m also jealous of his New York apartment which I once saw in maybe the New York Times? It was beautiful. So basically overall I’m the kind of guy who is complaining a lot about Zach Braff right now.
But seriously, people like me: quit complaining about Zach Braff. Especially his Kickstarter. You’re being dicks.
As someone who does a lot of work that’s supported by its consumers, I have strong feelings about this. And frankly, those feelings are pro-Braff.
Here is the transaction that Zach Braff offered fans of his work in the Kickstarter for Wish I Was Here: you put up some money, I will make a movie you want to see. Why is that bad?
He didn’t even ask people to put up all the money. He managed to secure financing for a significant portion of the budget, and a loan to keep things moving, but needed a final piece. Which his fans were happy to provide him. Because they wanted to see the movie.
In fact, his fans so wanted to see it, that they kept giving to the project even after the goal was met, to the tune of over a million bucks. Because they wanted to directly support a guy whose work they loved.
Look - I don’t love his work. Maybe you don’t either. But why shouldn’t people who like something pay to get it made? What the hell’s wrong with that?
Here are some complaints I’ve heard:
But he’s a Hollywood insider! Couldn’t he just get the money himself?
I don’t think people understand how hard it is to make any showbusiness project happen. The truth is that he tried, and he couldn’t. The best he could do was a version where he (the director) gave up final cut, and he didn’t want to give up final cut on a project that was very personal to him. So he wondered if people who wanted to see his version would want to pay for it. And they did.
Isn’t he a millionaire?
Sure. I mean, I saw his apartment in that magazine, that’s gotta be worth a million bucks easy. That doesn’t mean he can make a movie out of pocket, though, or that he should. The truth of movie-making is that most projects lose money. Only by amortizing across a lot of projects does the investment make any sense, and as you can see by the franchise-ation of moviedom, there’s so much risk in small adult dramas that people with real money don’t even bother with them any more. Why should he risk losing everything he has? Why is that expected of him?
Kickstarter’s for the little guy!
Well, for one thing - this is the little guy. Five million bucks for a feature film with lots of semi-famous people and a full crew and shooting schedule and several significant effects sequences is the little guy. Not the littlest guy, but the little guy. Movies are expensive. Trust me.
For another thing… why? Why shouldn’t a medium-sized guy use this method to raise money for a creative project? This isn’t a charitable endeavor. People are paying for something they want to see in the world.
He’s manipulating his fans!
His fans are grown ups. They can decide for themselves whether getting a movie made and seeing it in an advance screening is worth thirty bucks to them. Or if getting a movie made and seeing it in a regular movie theater is worth them kicking in ten bucks beyond the regular ticket price. Just because their tastes are different from yours doesn’t make them idiots. Which brings me to…
But he’s so lame!
This has nothing and everything to do with it. Are you being a dick about this because you don’t like how he raised the money, or because you didn’t like Garden State? Or because you did like Garden State and now you’re embarrassed about that because the world changed around you and/or you grew up and now you know you’re not supposed to like Garden State?
This movie isn’t for me. But it is for someone. 46,000 someones.
More importantly: directly audience-funded creative work is by far a net positive for society. It fosters deeper and more important work - there’s a big difference between your relationship to something you voluntary give money to and something you’re willing to show up to a theater with friends for. It reduces the risk inherent in any creative undertaking for the creative people. It makes it so that folks can spend more of their time making and less begging big corporations for money. It gives creative people control, with the backing of people who like their work, rather than giving that control to someone who wants to sell stuff. All of these are good, good things.
Let’s break the idea that this is a matter of charity. No one pities Zach Braff. He’s rich and handsome and doing well for himself. But tens of thousands of people love his work, and they want more of it. They’re willing to pay for it. And you don’t have to go see it. So what the heck’s wrong with that?
“It has to be something that I am generally interested in," Rees said. "I wanted to do, ‘How to Climb a Tree’ because when I was growing up, my mommy and daddy did not allow me to climb trees, which was a huge injustice. So at the end of episode, I go home, and I literally climb the childhood tree that my mom and dad didn’t let me climb. I make them sit there and watch me. It was profoundly satisfying.”—David Rees, host of GOING DEEP WITH DAVID REES premiering tonight on @NatGeoChannel (via hodgman)
“I’ve heard you a lot on Sklarbro, but wasn’t a huge fan of your fantasy sports character. And honestly, I don’t really like the other two podcasts either, but it has nothing to do with the quality of work. I recognize that while they are very good podcasts, it’s just personal preference.”—It’s always important to include the COMPLETE truth when writing a note or letter of compliment. (Which is what this is from, technically.)
The reason I keep sharing this is because Vince isn’t that well-known outside of the hip-hop world, and he’s such a talent and such a thoughtful, interesting guy, who’s telling a story that people really rarely hear.
The rapper Vince Staples is 20 years old. As a teenager, he got jumped into a gang in Long Beach, where he’s from. He didn’t expect to become a rapper. And unlike some rappers, he doesn’t think street life is anything to brag about.
He’s been fighting against his own upbringing and the gang culture that surrounded him since childhood, and his verses reflect that. He’s released several well-received mixtapes, and he’s continually outshone other rappers in guest verses on their own tracks.
Staples talks to us about his childhood, the inside joke of ‘Shyne Coldchain’, and why a life of gang banging felt like fate.
Want to hear more? For more interviews about the best in culture, comedy, and recommendations every week, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, with our RSS feed or search for “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn” in your favorite podcast app.
“I was talking to Schoolboy Q about it…I was asking him how do you get over it, like how do you just get past it. He was like, “You’re not. You’re not going to. ‘Cause I feel like I do wrong when I hit my homies up…I feel like that’s not my job, but in reality it is because that’s what it’s for…It’s not about killin niggas…It’s about taking care of the people you care about, and the second that got lost is the second that anybody could die.””—Vince Staples, on the traumatic and true nature of gang life (taken from "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn")
This is an interview with the rapper Vince Staples who not only writes strikingly personal, self-observing lyrics but also tends to answer questions in the form of long winded rants of that same nature. They make for a thrilling listen and contain fascinating insights about the world in which Vince’s songs (and most rap songs for that matter) are set in, even if they sometimes have little to do with the actual questions being asked.
There is also a moment in this where he admits that his music is not yet up to his own standards, which is not only disarmingly honest (and therefore classic Vince Staples) but also exciting. His tape from earlier this year showcased a very distinct delivery and a lot of that detailed storytelling he is so good at, but he seems to have outgrown the emotionaly narrow lo-fi-production that dominated it and with it the favouring of just straight rapping over more advanced songwriting. Now, if he keeps working on his shortcomings - like he said he’s set out to - this could get very, very interesting.
“It’s kind of like storytelling s & m - sort of an alternate world in which Martin’s punches land, and they land hard enough that we feel them, but not so hard that we have to use our safe word. Once we heal, we might want to come back for another session.”—
Jordan, just wanted to tell you that the joke you made on JJGo about the IKEA phone tree saying "For Bjorn, press Fjorn" made me laugh so hard I almost drove off the Palisades Parkway and into a ditch.
Hey thanks! I noticed that the products at Ikea have foreign names that are funny to me, an American.
This is a basically totally unmixed version of a thingy that I made from the stems of Dancing Machine. Which are totally out there. Hadn’t done anything like this since college, it was fun. You should listen, it’s like 90 seconds long.
Carl Wilson is a music journalist, and when he was offered a chance to write an entire book about one album, he chose Celine Dion’s “Let’s Talk About Love.”
Not because he loves Celine Dion’s music. Because he wanted to understand why so many others did, when he hated it.
Ultimately, he found himself learning about the philosophy of taste. What it means, why we have it (or don’t) and how we judge the taste of others.
Above is a ten-minute conversation between Carl and I on the subject. The rest of the interview - with a lot more Celine talk - will air on my NPR show Bullseye next week, but we wanted to share this as a web exclusive.
A reader wrote to us today, in response to our editorial policy and an article on how “style bloggers” earn money with appearance fees, editorial placement fees and other payments from brands. Here’s what he said:
With regards to the ethics thing, I gotta say it is very clear when a style…