Try talking on a blog with your fucking arms cut off (Pt. 1)

March 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All‘s D.I.Y. music videos, in their extreme negative affect and occasional illegibility, evoke Derek Jarman’s 1977 film Jubilee and the titillating ultraviolence and nihilism of queer punk.  Tavia Nyong’o describes Jubilee as a “historically and theatrically erudite iteration” of the Sex Pistols song “God Save the Queen” (in which Johnny Rotten declares No Future for the nation)–Odd Future, like Araki’s Kaboom, is shades of Jubilee for Los Angeles in the year before the world ends.

Mehan Jayasuriya pushes back against the idea of Odd Future being defined as “punk”:

“The problem is that in 2011, punk as a subculture encourages conformity more than creativity, its countercultural potential all but sapped through years of commercialization and calcification. In defining Odd Future as ‘punk,’ we’re crafting a narrative where Tyler and friends are descendants rather than insurgents, where their rebellion is mimetic rather than an authentic reaction to the world in which they live.”

Not so much mimesis as epic bricolage, OFWGKTA’s visual work is punk as fuck, in the sense of being infused with the nihilistic urgency of live fast and die young, in response to essentially the same oppressive structures that gave birth to punk in the 1970s.  Punk was designed to shock; British punk functioned as a nihilistic response to a shattered economy and a rejection of the idealism of hippie culture.  It was a contradictory moment that disavowed capitalism and mainstream culture while reaching towards fame and fortune.  By 1981, while Jubilee darling Adam Ant was palling around with Margaret Thatcher at the Falklands Ball, neighborhoods of London were erupting in race riots.

The narrative of selling out in Jayasuriya’s critique is useful to a cultural movement invested in positive affect, futurity, social justice.  In a cultural movement of apocalypse–in which total destruction of institutions and society also requires total destruction of self–what is the investment in resisting commercialization (see Kaboom in Pt. 2)? Jayasuriya’s claim of authenticity for Odd Future is a false one which denies the intense artifice of total negativity as well as the cultural obsession with irony and image.  What does selling out even mean anymore?  William S. Burroughs did a Nike ad, Ice T plays a cop on TV.  “The world is no longer interested in heroes…we now know too much about them.”


To Be Continued…


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