Wednesday, 30 March 2011

To Be, Or...

The structural similarity between much advertising and much modern art is not simply copying by the advertisers. It is the result of comparable responses to the contemporary human condition, and the only distinction that matters is between the clarification achieved by some art and the displacement normal in bad art and most advertising. The skilled magicians, the masters of the masses, must be seen as ultimately involved in the general weakness which they not only exploit but are exploited by. If the meanings and values generally operative in the society give no answers to, no means of negotiating, problems of death, loneliness, frustration, the need for identity and respect, then the magical system must come, mixing its charms and expedients with reality in easily available forms, and binding the weakness to the condition which has created it. Advertising is then no longer merely a way of selling goods. It is a true part of the culture of a confused society.
- Raymond Williams, 1980

2 comments:

Culla said...

This really highlights the sense that the vast majority of hip-hop, disco/electro-funk, whatever-you-call-it 80s street music never really positioned itself outside of consensual reality at all, therefore making its appropriation by ad moguls/pop vultures easily achievable

W. Kasper said...

By the 90s there were moves to push it 'out' again (with militancy, violence, experimentation etc), but it found mainstream acceptance very quickly, especially compared to Soul for example. TV had a lot to do with it - previous genres took longer to catch on via radio (especially in the US where its much more localised).

Hiphop is like a neoliberal version of blues, but its whole commercial apparatus has fought against that from the start. It was a reaction to disco, but the early labels aimed for disco audiences as much as the big labels now try and attach it to pop R'n'B.