I’m bound to approve aren’t I as effectively it’s a massive Wyatting (and opens up some lovely possibilities in Yuletide pubs). In this sense the song is crucial.
Last year's campaigns to get Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah to number one failed because its just not dissonant enough, more like an act of snobby Puritanism ( but haven’t you heard the Buckley version. Gah. I suppose you don’t even know Cohen wrote it originally. LEONARD COHEN?? No? Honestly!) a kind of middlebrow one-upmanship, pointedly the Rufus Wainright version wasn’t a contender as its in “Shrek” and the John Cale version’s too obscure, same goes for the RATM couples' Rick Astley campaign: too cheesily ironic in a culture saturated with irony.
Whereas, RATM have the necessary distance from both the rock snob and the ironist: they’re deeply in earnest and completely infra dig critically, no one is really touting Rage as “real music” in the way that Buckley can be, in other words it’s likely to piss off a sizeable chunk of society: from the Sun who today showed De La Rocha, a man who is giving the profits form the sale of the record to charity and has spent his adult life advocating leftist political positions, in a pair of Devil horns, to the tedious music connoisseur who tells you if you want to listen to funk get a George Clinton Lp, if you want rock get Led Zep, if you want politics get Gil Scott Heron, blah blah to the non-dupes who’ll harp on the triviality of culture and wish with a sigh that all that organization and enthusiasm could be put to a better use, to the REAL punks who’ll say it should be Discharge to all the X factor fans whose miserable investment in the fantasy of personal salvation through media is tripped up by the simply nasty and spiteful. RATM are exactly the right choice in this way. It’s a punk gesture because it isn’t the last pseudo chart run off we had between Blur and Oasis both releasing records on the same day, it’s a section of the public ambushing and coshing the media and the rest of the public spontaneously with a fifteen year old rap/rock tune as its weapon of choice.
I’ve liked the disavowal from Cole and Callow about being upset for Joe (as though he were simply entitled to it all by virtue of having won X-Factor) when in reality they know that the game is up, maybe not tomorrow but soon and for the rest of their lives.*
The public knows it can do it now. It isn’t chose to participate or not participate, it can set it’s own terms. This is the positive flipside of Mark’s “Conspicuous contempt” perhaps, a massive levelling of the star-system, a desire to dish out to Cowell some of the humiliating judgement of inadequacy he has served up, the web coming of age in a way, realising its reach and autonomy. Maybe the public will develop an appetite for it, maybe it’ll realise it can do all kinds of other things. Maybe it’s a flash in the pan. But it’s as much about a clash of the inherent possibilities of media and the shaking off of interpassivity as anything.
How do you Wyatt a bar full of Wire readers I wondered in my first post, the slightly trickier question, how do you Wyatt an entire nation has now been answered. So, anyway, sorry if you approve the gesture but don’t like the song: but then that’s also partly the point: once the I-pod comes off not all the interesting moments can also have that perfect soundtrack.
*There are doubtless already conspiracy theories abounding IE Cowell’s done it himself, it was set up by the Record company etc these matter not a whit even if true because they still reveal the possibility. It doesn’t matter who set it up and for what reason, the a-symmetry exists and is open to all, it simply opens up a new frontier within the Internet itself as a space for contention. Given the absolute interlacing of Web 2.0 into the fabric of our lives, the exposure of such a “plot” and inevitable argument about who owns the web and corporate incursion into public non-space etc could only be welcomed.