Friday, June 27, 2008

The (Possible) Commercialization of
Feed the Animals

What a week it has been devoting a post a day to Girl Talk's new album, Feed the Animals. We've looked at the album's legal implications, while comparing its creator to Andy Warhol, not to mention giving the album a more standard review and seeing what other critics were saying as well. Though we live in a fast-paced music world where fans (bloggers, especially) forget about albums very quickly, the implications and ideas of this record will have a lasting effect. The issues are still relevant - and Girl Talk's profile can only get bigger. This leads me to ask the question - what does the future hold for Girl Talk and Feed the Animals?

My prediction is that Feed the Animals will remain one of the most talked-about albums of the year, and that it will not be challenged legally by any of the major record companies. Instead, I expect the major labels and the culture industry to harness what Gregg Gillis has created and use it towards their own financial benefit. I think this will happen because a). it makes commercial sense and b). Gillis is totally game for it. Gillis may be a copyright rebel now, but his intent is undoubtedly one aimed at worldwide stardom. As Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal states in his review today, contextualizing the artist and album:
As I was finishing an interview with Gregg Gillis in July 2006, he casually mentioned his desire to see M. Night Shyamalan's just-released fantasy movie Lady in the Water. Given the film's wretched reviews - a pitiful 24% on Rotten Tomatoes - and the train-wreck hype surrounding it, I thought he was kidding. He wasn't; Gillis liked some of Shyamalan's other flicks, so he wanted to check this one out. Simple. And it's this omnivorous, pleasure-seeking attitude toward pop culture that defines his work as Girl Talk.
The major record labels could make Gillis a target - but would they want to given how out-of-touch with listeners they already seem? Furthermore, these musical collages may seem subversive now - but what was your older sister's favorite subversive art is now Coca Cola's major ad campaign. The culture industry can mass produce anything and frame it with the language of consumption (ex. punk rock, graffiti). If enough fans are eager to consume Girl Talk tracks - and it seems as though they are - what is stopping this industry from utilizing that. Perhaps a major soda manufacturer would license a Girl Talk track, clear the samples, use it for their ad campaign, while sending Mr. Gillis on a worldwide tour.

This is all speculation, but I have a creeping suspicion something like this is going to happen - that, or Gillis will turn reclusive.

Over the past week, we've looked at a number of issues that are a constant in the arts. Ultimately I am left believing that Feed the Animals is one of the most exciting and complex art works of recent memory. As we conclude this week of Feed the Animals posts, ponder the commercial implications of this album and the art form it represents. The pleasure of the album derives from the music created more than from the theoretical ideas it stimulates. But, were this art form to become somehow "legitimized" (or simply, commercial) would that make it any less valuable or important?

Whoomp. There it is.


Allison said...

"...but what was your older sister's favorite subversive art is now Coca Cola's major ad campaign."


Will said...

Thanks Allison.