Friday, July 18, 2008

I Will Possess Your Soul

I heard it in a shop two days ago, then as a ringtone this morning, and now I've had the bloody Death Cab For Cutie single stuck in my head all day. I thought, perhaps, perusing the video might fish out the earworm; it did, but now I'm even angrier than I was before. It's bad enough to be haunted by what sounds like Coldplay's Starbucks-ready rendition (read: neutering) of "Death Valley '69" with a full five-minute preamble of deathly undynamic M.O.R. motorik. But fear not, good friends, because not only does the video not cut the anodyne intro, but it slaps atop it a montage of some pallid mannequin being manifestly unmoved by great scenery around the globe.

Is this Death Cab's tribute to jetlag-addled noninteractive vacationing in the Scarlett Johannsen vein? More indie Orientalism posing as pancultural, One World group hug? Or conversely, an anti-Othering attempt to flatten the globe by demonstrating how to be bored anywhere? A music clip that can be cynically edited into a 30-second commercial that appeals to local narcissism worldwide to make fat mad stacks for Atlantic Records? Who cares?

A better question: why do I care about such milquetoast post-emo pop when it has no function in my life?

Short answer: I don't.

Long answer: I care that it's occupied my consciousness for the better part of a day because I couldn't escape it in the public sphere. I care because it horrifies me to think that every single square inch or second of media that I absorb has been bought, paid for, done as a favour, scratched someone's back, and/or is a single battle in a larger war to possess me and my wallet. There is no such thing as a coincidence, and nothing is so iconoclastic or esoteric it can't be commodified. Lest I be accused of being some music industry incarnation of A Scanner Darkly's Barris, here it is straight from the horse's mouth: these whore-clown huns of universal pillage are out to get you. In a civilization where Starbucks (again) sells a selection of Sonic Youth favourites, it's not merely a matter of having test-marketed tripe shoved down our throats by the Big Four. I'd be no happier if I heard Rick Froberg hollering at me in the frozen food section.

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