August 7, 2014
August 4, 2014
The Dead Milkmen are truly fantastic. They're a punk band from Philadelphia who never took themselves (or anything else) very seriously. This funny-as-hell song helped get me through my time at my uber-conservative uber-religious high school, and the video is pretty cool too. I really want to know who they hired to play God. Also, whenever there's a shot of the full band, pay attention to the bassist!
July 29, 2014
I know a lot of people who are into comics love to hate on Garfield because it's pretty much the opposite of edgy and the cartoonist, Jim Davis, has never hidden that he's only in it for the money. I don't care. Garfield rocks. This is a sticker from 1978 I found scanned on Tumblr.
July 24, 2014
July 21, 2014
BiS stands for Brand-new Idol Society. They were a Jpop idol girl's group... kind of. Traditionally, Japanese idols are presented as chaste, happy, and cute. They meet with fans, laugh a lot in interviews, and do fashion photo shoots. And they acquire legions of sometimes-creepy fans and pretty much give up a normal life in the process.
BiS's purpose was to take the traditional image of the idol and blow it to pieces. The group leader, Pour Lui, sought the craziest and weirdest people from auditions instead of the prettiest or the most talented. They played with punk bands, collaborated with the noise band Hijokaidan, and stage dove at their shows. They did things that flew in the face of the "rules" of idol groups. They filmed PVs nude, with shaved heads, with horror-movie makeup, with fake tattoos, covered in dirt and blood. In the videos, they made out with each other, tortured guys, were beheaded and crucified. In one they actually stuck endoscopic cameras down their throats, taking invasiveness to new heights.
Basically, their image is a reaction to and rebellion against the ridiculous standards and underlying problems of idol culture. It's accepted for idols to make sexualized videos, sometimes with lesbian subtext, while retaining a clean and sweet image. It's normal for idols to have and meet and pander to their obsessive male fans, even if it exposes them to the potential for uncomfortable encounters, stalking, and even attacks. It's expected that idols be constantly polished and pretty and happy. It's expected that idols share their thoughts, dreams, and lives with their fans while sacrificing their own. I'm guessing you can see how BiS's image relates. They wanted to make people question these norms. They didn't want to make people love them. They wanted to make them uncomfortable.
I'm not sure how much they've succeeded with the former, but by God have they managed the latter. Their videos have a huge amount of dislikes and nasty comments on youtube and apparently they were pretty hated in Japan.
Now, with all that in mind... here is the video for DiE. The girls are presented in contexts that could easily be sexual: in bed, in lingerie, in the shower. But at the same time, it's shown in the least sexy manner possible. They aren't wearing makeup or posing. They're crying, visibly uncomfortable, or just plain emotionless. One is trying to hide. The surroundings are unremarkable and sometimes dark and dingy-looking. The lyrics read like an existential crisis. The overall effect is extremely uncomfortable, like we're seeing something we're not supposed to see. But at the same time, is it really that different from, for example, this extremely popular slumber-party AKB48 video laden with fanservice and hints at voyeurism? What exactly makes this, as one commenter put it, "ugly and dirty?" Does it kill the sexy when the girls show emotions besides happiness and express discomfort with their sexualization?
I think some of BiS's points are relevant for American pop culture, too.
The information in this post is from various sources, including my own knowledge of BiS, but this article from Vice was very helpful and if you're interested in the group you should definitely check it out.