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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
The Kills -- Cheap and Cheerful

Sometimes all it takes to make a good song is a good attitude.

What I like about people who don't conform to social graces is that they demonstrate a different way to be. If life is a stage, to use a cliche, then the least cliched people are the ones who go off script by creating their own characters and roles -- this includes criminals, artists, and the mentally-ill. Too often we let our need to fit in override our ability to create; we'd rather wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, speak the same phrases, and obey the same laws, than be the lone wolf. This is not an easy task, but a necessary one if you want to end boredom.



Good song, and I like the Kills. I haven't seen the video for this though. But the video effects in their video remind me of the ones used in Blondie's Detroit
Detroit 422

...Same video effects, a good looking blond girl ...and, of course, no social grace.

Other than that, the "strange" does make life more interesting. But I've always considered them part of Shakespeare's "stage of life." ...At least Shakespeare had some really insane characters in his plays.



My sense nowadays is that non-conformity - striving to be "different" in clothes, music, political opinions, whatever - is actually the strongest form of conformity. To be a real rebel today you have to actually trust in the mainstream, rather than dismiss it like all so-called rebels do.

It's an irony, and a big one. By trying to be the "lone wolf", since it's what almost everybody does, cancels itself out. With everybody trying not to conform, they all conform. You can probably tell that I'm once again reiterating Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter's argument in The Rebel Sell, the one that goes, roughly, Fashionable non-conformity drives capitalism and consumerism because it makes sure new and ever non-conforming fashions get pumped out quicker and quicker, leading to a perpetual, arms-race type of consumer escalation. And it's all, I repeat, driven by "non-conformity".

On a slightly wider not, though, I don't think it's simply a matter of conformity vs. non-conformity. The larger question for me is the matter of non-conformity in the right places. So, conformity in style of dress and taste in music, to my mind, isn't that important. But conformity of, say, political opinion: now that's important. Better to focus on political non-conformity and plurality than on fashion and music non-conformity. Politics and fashion are two very different things, even if the whole conformity/non-conformity thing applies to them both. To think of them as the same, or even similar - just because conformity is an issue in both - misses the point, I think.

Either way, though, to not conform today - in fashion, music or political matters - means to actually not be so worried about "not conforming". To actually go along with the system, to conform to it, is as radical and as non-conforming as it gets today. Ironic, yes...
REPLIES: Ryan_Sauve



Replying to Hogan:
I haven't read The Rebel Sell, but I did see the authors speak about the book at UBC's downtown campus a few years ago. The main problem I have with their argument, or at least what I understand of it, is that they categorize movements that bring change to society as 'political,' whereas movements that have not brought change fall into the 'let's-make-money-by-selling-anti-conformity' pile. That means, in their view, the Civil Rights and Feminist movements were solely political, whereas things like Adbusters, Fight Club, and Che Guevara t-shirts are consumer products devised by shrewd entrepreneurs.

I disagree with these clear distinctions. To say that the Civil Rights leaders were not inspired, encouraged, or informed by novels, songs, or paintings cannot be right; to say that Feminism does not involve art is absurd. In the same way, I do think politics and fashion (art) are the same thing, in that they intersect, cross-over, and shape the other. To believe one comes before the other is silly; they are two words that denote a style of living, a way of existing. To believe our ideals, emotions, sense of identity, and so on, are restricted to one aspect of life and not another is the mistake. Hogan, perhaps you should catch up on your Vogue.

Furthermore, when I say "different," I mean "different." I don't mean you exhibit your rebellion by purchasing blue shoes when everyone else is buying red shoes; I mean you walk in bare feet. Whether this alters the system in a significant way or not, I can't say; but it does open new ways of existing to others that never thought of it before. If capitalism was engendered by certain ways of thinking and feeling, I think it can be undone by certain ways of thinking and feeling.



This is so Nietzsche-an!

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