Sunday, October 28, 2007

In Defense of Pop Culture, Whereby We Discover An Open Room

So, I love the new Britney Spears. When I say this, I am indulging in gayness that I typically try to avoid. You must realize how deep I had to reach to be so open about my admiration for the absolutely inane but impossible catchy power that is Britney Spears' pop music.

Blackout, if nothing else, represents everything that is good and wonderful about pop music. That being said, being such a supreme incarnation also means that it is deliriously bad. Well, only in the ways that pop music typically is bad. Thus, what we have is a really good record that is simply of no real artistic value, at least not in the sense of serious musical experimentation and exploration. But in this case, there are alternative criteria of value that we can apply to a completed work. The truth is that Blackout epitomizes the consumption, the random sexy dance-y fun that we have come to expect out of our pop culture.

While I do tend to despise the rather obvious line between high and pop culture that artists such as Britney Spears tend to bring in relief, this album is such a precise and exact distillation of pop culture that even people with their musical noses in the air should be able to appreciate this album for the refinement in pop sensibility that it so deftly displays.

In this sense, Britney Spears makes us re-examine the very line that I said she so clearly marks out. What we find is that the more we analyze that border, the hazier and hazier it becomes. When does fringe between mainstream? What does it mean to make that transition?

Would it be that terrible to throw away that black-and-white value system. Maybe we should stop trying to cram things into a critical framework that clearly does not properly capture the range of intentions, techniques, and effects of any produced work. I argue that the various dimensions of art make it impossible to properly define what constitutes "art" at all. But this should not impede our recognition of art. What I am saying is that we should not let our inability to define art stop us from promoting the creation of art.

Remove the stigma of pop culture, strip the glowing fa├žade of fine art. The removal of the scale is necessary, because by believing that such a scale exists, we confine our own artistic abilities to the range of such a scale. In short, by bounding off the work of others, regardless of motive or means, we stunt our own growth.

Properly produced wine is formed through the fermentation of sugars by bacteria. Eventually all the bacteria will begin running out of sugar and will slowly be poisoned by the very alcohol that they helped produced. So too, must the diametric scale of art eventually destroy itself, forever devouring its own tail as head reached head, and the paradox of simultaneity crushes the whole mechanism with its own weight.

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