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 Hannah Golightly

Odd Future and a Brave New World

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Jo
Just offering an alternative opinion here (so don’t hate me!), but since you’ve put this up for discussion:

Very interesting point about Odd Future being “punks”. Yup. I’d say that’s about right. Punks were, after all, the obnoxious little shits that went around wearing swastikas to annoy their parents who had fought in the war. Punks were mostly completely talentless, getting by on catharsis and shock factor alone. They did open doors, though, and that is punk’s lasting contribution: the DIY ethic. Those that took advantage of that had considerably more constructive ideals – those old-fashioned values of working hard and using ingenuity to create a profitable small business. Anyone who ran a successful indie record label would have done well at pretty much anything.

Odd Future, though. They’re just not particularly good, and that’s what’s annoying. It’s like those ‘Cinema of Transgression’ films from the early 80s – yes, it’s taboo-breaking and terribly shocking, but it’s just not very GOOD. Maybe the lethargic response to Odd Future’s lyrics is that it’s just 30 years too late? It’s all been done before by cleverer people with more to say.

Hannah Golightly
I agree with you on most of what you say. The only thing I think it’s worth pointing out is that every generation needs its own punks. It has to be happening in the present moment in people’s lives to have that impact – retro punk is an odd concept as it’s found its place in society in the history books and neatly filed into the punk section of the record shops. It doesn’t serve the same function when it’s your parents’ music, for reasons you outlined, plus others too. There is a freedom in wilfully pissing people off because humans are social beings and we deeply need connection with others for our survival, so there is a huge pressure to gain acceptance from other people, which actually we all need a break from every once in a while – and Odd Future and The Sex Pistols and NWA and Eminem and Marilyn Manson and all the others provide for us. Time out from caring what other people think. I have done a complete U-turn in my opinion of Odd Future, but I want the impressionable kids to know that they are not recommending rape and homophobia, so I think the music writers have to spread that message and make sure it’s translated for everyone, but let Odd Future carry on doing what they are doing.

Jo
Have they actually denied condoning it? I didn’t think they had. I thought they just said that they thought it was funny, which is idiotic and puerile.

Hannah Golightly
Hmmm, I’ll have to phone up my fact-checker on that … but they DID say they are ‘into taboo subjects’. The other odd fact surrounding them is that their sound technician was a lesbian and she wasn’t offended by them or their music in any way. People wouldn’t usually feel the need to discuss the details of their studio staff in a short interview, but I think that nugget is supposed to say something to people about where they are coming from on those subjects. At first I felt sorry for her, thinking ‘where is your fucking self-respect’ but now I feel like I get it, and that she can have worked on the record and had plenty of self-respect.

Jo
Yeah, I’m not sure on that. I mean, I’m not trying to lead a witch hunt against them or anything (my biggest objection is that they are overrated – there’s plenty of merely offensive bands in the world). You just can’t judge people by their friends (even though we all do).

There was a Louis Theroux documentary on rap and there were female executives and producers working with these unapologetically horrible misogynists and it wasn’t because they weren’t really that bad but because the women had just lowered their standards for fame and profit.

Another example is the French band Magma, and I had this huge argument with a fan who wouldn’t accept that their singer was a Nazi sympathiser despite overwhelming evidence, on the basis that the guy had a Jewish friend who didn’t seem offended by him – but even the singer’s own wife remarked that she found his politics revolting and just stuck by him because he made good music. It’s like saying Mel Gibson can’t be racist because Whoopie Goldberg defended him.

It’s my absolute pet peeve when people defend complete bastards based on artistic merit (e.g. Roman Polanski). If you genuinely believe him to be innocent, that’s OK. If you just don’t care – knowing what he did doesn’t spoil the movie – that’s OK too. But it’s when people treat talent as being some sort of virtue that forgives every possible sin, then that’s just hypocrisy. There were a lot of people in Hollywood I wanted to slap after that. That is what I believe a lot of the press are guilty of with regard to Odd Future. I guess in your shoes I’d just try to interview them to find out one way or the other.

Hannah Golightly
I deffo agree about rap in general and the use of ‘bitches’ and ‘ho’s’ in their lyrics and videos for example – the girls get into the videos as it boosts their self-esteem, without them realising that they only had low self esteem due to too many images of women like those videos in the media.

Jo
Definitely. I even recoiled when I saw that ‘Crazy In Love’ video by Beyonce and she’s crawling around on her hands and knees, wiggling her bottom in supplication, and just thought, “OMG! Get some dignity, woman!”

Hannah Golightly
I get the impression that Tyler The Creator is expressing his own inadequacies in his lyrics more than anything. He fantasizes about dominating other people because he is a failure in a society that expects men to hold those positions. I think it can have an impact and a negative one for sure, but nowhere near the impact of corporate advertisers with their mega budget brainwashing. Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans were not his way to advertise soup, but to capture a portrait of how his world looked. I believe that OF is doing pretty much the same thing.

Hannah Golightly
I disagree with your example of Beyonce as I felt like she was empowered in that video. I think it’s important to clarify the difference between a woman expressing her own sexuality and desires (society frowns upon women owning their own sexuality) and where the person (Beyonce) is the one with the voice, telling her story, her way- and the videos where the women are dancing and grinding around the pool side in various stages of undress, with no voice, no personality and no female-orientated fashion sense (just FHM magazine’s idea of fashion for women aka skin-tight, revealing and easy to remove) in a very male view of women as ‘things’. But if you saw the Beyonce video as her being exploited rather than empowered, then that’s still valid even if some women see something else in the same image.

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One Response to Odd Future and a Brave New World

  1. Ben G June 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I have a friend who has the “mirror to society” theory, indeed he says he wouldn’t like OF without it. He has some very good points in support of it, drawing on things that happen in OF videos.

    I also like the take in that recent New Yorker article – that the unsavoury elements of OF are deliberate attempts to avoid recouperation. Making rap and youth culture once again ugly to outsiders. That’s a noble cause, and no doubt at least partly true, but it’s no excuse for turning women and “faggots” into outsiders.

    I see it as less planned than that – or maybe what I’m saying is that I don’t need to see it like that to enjoy OF overall. Seeing at the Hi Fi the sheer glee on Tyler and Left Brain’s faces when they sang “…and fuck Mary in her ass” (in reference to church attendance), I was reminded of the Breton/Dali/Bunuel explanation/anti-explanation of surrealism. The pistol firing into a crowd, the plea for violence, the unabridled id.

    I often dislike Tyler and Earl’s more puerile lyrics – both on their face and for the attention they attract – and my reaction to Tyler is a bit like Orwell’s reaction to the then-hotly-debated Dali (his review of the autobiography is worth looking up). But I like thinking that many people who profess disgust at OF will stroll around GoMA and buy fridge magnets of someone putting a razor through a woman’s eyeball for no reason whatsoever, maybe giggle at the less-famous part of Un Chien Andalou where another fellow gets so excited at seeing a woman get run over he starts groping his companion.

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