A Forsley Feuilleton: They Have Since Cut Their Hair Off, Sued Their Fans, And Are Probably Opening A Chain Of Vegan Restaurants[admin / April 12th, 2012 / Young Bright Things ]
When Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and called upon Satan to rise from the fires of Hell to tune his guitar, he didnâ€™t have dollar signs in his eyes and titties on his brain.Â Material possessions were of no importance to him, and he already had titties . . . they belonged to a married woman whose husband killed â€“ via poisoned whiskey â€“ the young bluesman.Â But before that deathly incident, Johnson used his hellishly tuned guitar to strum with the sureness of a savant and sing with the sorrow of a sinner.Â He sold his eternal soul for talent, not fame and fortune.Â Robert Johnson wasnâ€™t a sellout.
Harmony Korine might be a sellout.Â In last weekâ€™s ForsleyÂ Feuilleton, I wrote about the rumor that his next flick, Spring Breakers, is starring the prepackaged Disney toys called Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens.Â I wrote how I want to see Korine melt these wholesome Disney toys down and reform them into decadent sex toys so Americaâ€™s youth can witness the dark perversions of this countryâ€™s psyche.Â But over at the Harmony Korine Message Boards, where touchy tweaked-out teenagers and masturbating middle-aged men talk about stalking the avant-garde filmmaker, thereâ€™s a different sentiment surrounding Spring Breakers: Kingfish says, â€œSeems like Korine is just trying to secure his kid’s college fund,â€ and HiShoeSneak says, â€œHarmony Korine is probably selling out with this film. He’s casting pretty girls this time. I want the real substance like retarded people spilling spaghetti and kids huffing glue.â€
And although I donâ€™t want to admit it, the signs do point to Korine selling out: they all have piles of Hollywood money on them in the form of Hollywood honeys â€“ sweet sweet honey that only drips from paradigm plotted, producer propagated, prostituted proposals that include neither retarded people spilling spaghetti nor kids huffing glue.Â Kevin Smith, director of Clerks, sold out when he made Jersey Girl.Â Spike Lee, director of Sheâ€™s Gotta Have It, sold out when he made Inside Man.Â And Harmony Korine, director of Gummo, might be selling out with this teenybopper vehicle, Spring Breakers.Â The money is big, and the effort is little.Â Big money, little effort â€“ thatâ€™s what the Shadows of Hollywood promise artists like Korine if they agree to jump into the darkness hidden beneath that So Cal sunshine.
And itâ€™s easy for such an artist â€“ a now older, tamer, sober artist â€“ to sell out. . . to compromise and cash in. . . to do what Metallica did: tailor their material with the sole purpose of appealing to mainstream audiences.Â Metallica ainâ€™t Bob Dylan.Â Their sound didnâ€™t evolve over time, naturally.Â They went from writing And Justice For All, with its dark technical content, to The Black Album, with its friendly radio songs, overnight.Â They have since cut their hair off, sued their fans, and are probably opening up a chain of vegan restaurants.Â Metallica sold out.
But itâ€™s too early to label Korine a sell-out.Â We have to wait for Spring Breakers.Â Forget the signs for now.Â They may be pointing us in the wrong direction.Â We might get to call Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens scissor sisters after the flick premiers.Â If thatâ€™s the case, heâ€™s not selling out.Â Heâ€™s only forcing his vision on a wider audience.Â And you canâ€™t blame him for that.Â When Rage Against the Machine signed to a major record label, they rationalized themselves: â€œWe’re not interested in preaching to just the converted.â€Â An artist has more subversive potential when he can subvert from within a dominate culture â€“ I think John Waters said that.
Itâ€™s like writing for PANK and the dominate culture of electronic literature.Â Just because my Forsley Feuilletons are now ignored by thousands of web surfers looking for smoother waves, it doesnâ€™t mean Iâ€™m compromising my vision.Â I may not write as many jokes about pretentious poets and angry feminists as I did when I published this column in zine-form and handed it to thousands of San Franciscans so they could feed them to the pigeons. . . but my writing is just as fragmented and immature as ever.Â Iâ€™m not a sell-out.Â I donâ€™t conceal corporate advertisement within the text of this column.Â I wrote this piece under the influence of Hills Brothers Coffee, but you donâ€™t see me recommending that you too drink that tasty and tantalizing king of all coffees for only ninety-nine cents a pound so you too can write in a directionless, amateurish style.
Itâ€™s true that writing for PANK may increase the size of my readership, and that an increase in readership may increase the size of my wallet.Â But the hate I receive from these hipsters â€“ which is also projected on that band that used to play only for them â€“ is rooted in a common misconception: if an artist becomes too popular, then that artist must have sold out.Â If that wasnâ€™t a misconception, the Homecoming Queen I dated in high school would be living in a mansion right now instead of a jail cell for prostitution. Â And yes that Homecoming Queen was an artist. . . ask any of her hundred-thousand or so customers.