Hey you guys,
So yesterday I got a press release trumpeting Broken, Dave Navarro's maiden foray into the exciting world of porn direction. Yes, porn direction. My first reaction was "Wow, Navarro has really sold out for good this time." But when has Navarro ever stood for anything other than shirtlessness, ugly tattoos, wearing more make-up and hair product than a Sunset Strip streetwalker and hanging out with skanks? Good Lord, the man was married to Carmen Electra, a human blow-up sex doll though there are so many artificial parts in her at this point that she's actually more like an android.
Which led me to wonder: what the hell does it take to be labeled a sell-out these days? I came of age pop-culture-wise during a grungetastic age when anyone who didn't share the ethics of Ian MacKaye or Steve Albini was considered suspect, when all it took was a jump to a major label to earn charges of being a sellout and slave to your corporate masters.
There was always something distinctly phony, self-righteous and hypocritical about all this posturing about integrity and doing it exclusively for the music. After all, punk godfathers The Clash, Sex Pistols and Ramones were all on major labels. But I feel like the pendulum has swung so far that just about everyone gets a pass. The last time I remember a groundswell of outrage about a formerly respected artist abandoning their principles was when Liz Phair morphed into a Starbucks-friendly fusion of Avril Lavigne and Sheryl Crow.
It was unthinkable to imagine Kurt Cobain doing a commercial for Pentium or American Express but Kurt Vonnegut and Elvis Costello have done ads without being crucified by the authenticity police. Hell, even Martin Scorsese does commercials for credit cards these days.
At the risk of getting on my lefty soapbox here I find it disconcerting that so many respected artists happily get into bed with parasitic credit card companies whose livelihoods depend on keeping huge chunks of the country mired in debt on a more or less permanent basis. Credit card companies exist so that people can buy things they don't need with money they don't have. I highly recommend the documentary Maxed Out for more information/anti-credit-card slogan sloganeering. Sure the commercials are cute and more than a little artful but that doesn't make the product they're selling any less noxious.
Here's my question to you, dear reader, what does it mean to be a sellout in 2007? Is it a phrase that still has any resonance? Does it cheapen our deep, emotional relationship with songs and movies and moviemakers we love to see them used to sell hair dye or credit cards or beer? Does art ultimately belong to fans, artists or the sinister corporations that distribute and exploit them? Discuss. Incidentally, my favorite part of the Broken press release is where it boasts that Navarro's film "stands alone, and in many ways literally defines originality". So apparently the Webster's definition of "originality" will be super-imposed over at least one cum shot. So it's got that going for it.