Thursday, April 27, 2006

The sellout post, revisited

A couple of things to add to the Jack White-Coca Cola post from two days ago:

  • There are two kinds of people calling Jack White a sellout: people who don't want musicians singing in any commercial, and people who are okay with musicians doing commercials, but have a problem with Coke.

    My post was directed at the former, the people who believe that commerce is the death of artistry, and I wanted to explore what the commercial meant to Jack White as an artist.

    I didn't get into the politics of Coca Cola - the concern of the latter group - since it would've made the post much longer than it already was, for one thing, and it has more to do with Jack White the person than the artist.

    I'll just say this - I'm not a huge fan of Coca Cola, the product or the company. At the same time, its evil doesn't reach the level of, say, Wal-Mart or Haliburton. Bad, but not that bad.

  • A couple of posters in the The Modern Age comments had an issue with the last part of the post:
    And does anyone really give a fuck that Michaelangelo basically painted ads for the Vatican or that Da Vinci was a whore to the Medici clan? Sometimes, selling out is the path to artistic integrity.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Jack is the second coming of the Renaissance giants or that De Stijl is the modern day equivalent of "David". I am simply pointing to the similarity in the business model and its effect (or absence thereof) on how people perceive their artistry.

    The Vatican-Coca Cola analogy isn't perfect, but the differences are negligible when you consider the parallels, in my opinion. But if the Mikey-Jack White comparison isn't your thing, surely the Da Vinci analogy still stands. Like Coca Cola, the Medici family were a powerful family that stood to increase their influence and wealth by being a patron of the arts. There was a happy intersection between the shit Leo wanted to do and what the Medici wanted to display, just as there's happy intersection between the brand personality Coke's trying to reinforce and the hippie ass value that Jack White wants to spread.

  • While we're on the subject of lending art to corporations, I have mixed opinions about the "My Life, My Card" stuff that's out there, especially the ones directed by Wes Anderson and M. Night.

    I like them both and they reflect the directors' styles. Anderson's is self-deprecating to the point of arrogance, simultaneously devoid of self consciousness and self aware. Shayamalan's is unapologetically stylish. At the same time, there's a huge disconnect between "My Life" and "My Card", and ultimately, these commercials say very little about the American Express brand other than "Here's crap we like."


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