clap clap blog: we have moved

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Via a discussion on wallace-l that's not worth rehashing, we come to this page of Clay Aiken merch. It's kind of charming, isn't it? I especially loved the bit about "Who ever said we wanted edgy? Rocky road is overrated!" It's being "in-your-face" about not being edgy, which is sort of that old I'm-so-authentic-I-don't-care-about-authenticity-thing (thanks heather), but it's also shockingly honest, since most people who are "in your-face" in this way really aren't "edgy" in the slightest, although they may be trying to be. (Soda commercials, radio DJs, bad kids' cartoons, etc.) So good for them.

I am a bit unconvinced about the whole "When the media and the music industry tell you to eat Rocky Road, there's only ONE thing to do: bury them in vanilla" thing, but it's an interesting phenomenon, needless to say. On the other hand, it does mean that AUR as a cultural meme has progressed to the point where we're using "revolutionary" language to celebrate bland inoffensiveness. And I don't mean that as a knock, like "Oh they think they're so cool but it's just bourgeois pap, man." They really are celebrating bland inoffensiveness, and they're quite happy about it. What else can "vanilla" mean?

And in a way, they're absolutely right. This is indeed what the media and the music industry does. Their bland, inoffensive stuff sells just as well, if not better, as their pseudo-"edgy" stuff, but it's pushed off the cultural radar. Only occasionally does it crop up with Ms. Dion, "Everybody Loves Raymond," Regis Philbin, etc., etc., etc. Most of the time they're pushing stuff whose image is deeply rooted in the AUR sensibility of exciting and new and confrontational and transgressive = good. Even when it's none of those.

So I have a definite sympathy with these particular viewpoints, even as I recognize that what I consider vanilla they're possibly explicitly thinking of when they say "rocky road." Still, it's something we could all keep in mind. Maybe I'll buy a button.