Other Ten Percent 5/8/13

May 08 2013

Yeah okay, not feeling today’s links that much at 4 in the afternoon and I’ve still got the tab open to do the other thing I was thinking of doing yesterday which, coincidentally, kinda plays into why I haven’t been feeling it that much in OTP lately in general. Don’t worry, this isn’t me declaring that I’m shutting down. It’s the other thing where I ramble endlessly about a specific topic and almost make an interesting point without ever actually having the thing coalesce into an actual honest to God essay. That’s right guys, buckle the fuck up because it’s time for 1500 words on meta-textuality, boringly repetitive online narratives and the rapper Kitty Pride who is apparently just going by Kitty now according to a new interview on Stereogum and Wikipedia.

Coming on the heels of Iron Man 3 that interview actually crystalized something that’s been creeping up on me for the last couple of months about the way I’ve been enjoying pretty much every form of entertainment. Lately I find myself liking the meta-text more than the text of basically everything I enjoy. That’s always been true to some degree but traditionally it’s just been things where I liked it on both levels but found the meta-text made me sound smarter. Lately I’ve just been tossing away the actual text when I find it boring though and just engaging with the parts around it that I actually care to engage with because honestly the text is all starting to seem pretty interchangeable.

Iron Man 3 is the perfect example. As an actual movie Iron Man 3 has enough structural problems that I really can’t recommend it to anybody I know. As a movie about Iron Man 3 though it’s one of the most interesting movies in years. Tony Stark has long conversations with an empty Iron Man suit and argues with people about what value he actually possesses outside of empty spectacle. At one point a small child literally asks him “when are we going to talk about The Avengers?” and Tony Stark literally has a panic attack in response. I’ve never seen a movie that’s so obsessed with its own precarious status as a summer blockbuster that can’t possibly be the biggest summer blockbuster. So it’s really disappointing when it turns around and tries anyway.

Which is why I find Kitty deeply interesting as a media personality that writes in Vice and does interviews with Stereogum even as I haven’t really bothered to listen to anything she’s done since “Okay Cupid.” Cupid was such a bizarre cultural artifact when it came out that I was just totally unable to parse the multiple levels of battling irony and twee sincerity long enough to figure out what the hell was going on. I’ve read interviews with her though because I was trying to figure out if she actually meant the bit or not and the more people turned against her and let her know she was ruining rap by being a small white girl who wasn’t a very good rapper the more interesting I found her.

I mean, the position of being famous and not very good is actually shockingly common in the modern musical landscape, the pressure to find new artists to hype means that you’re constantly plucking people out of obscurity who have performed publicly like a dozen times and when you’ve only done something a dozen time you’re pretty much guaranteed to be awful at it when 500 people are staring at you and ranking you against every other human being who’s done that thing. What made Kitty interesting was how she handled the narrative of not being a very good rapper.

Usually, when somebody gets to the “emperor has no clothes” stage of their hype cycle they decide to double down because what the hell else are you going to do? When somebody says you suck you go “No I’m awesome!” and hope you’ve got enough fans that don’t notice and stick around that you’ve still got a career. In that interview up there though Kitty does the EXACT OPPOSITE THING, she confesses that she sucks but says Danny Brown thinks she has potential and lets everybody know that she’s trying to get better and you’re free to watch that process.

I think what makes me vaguely obsessed with that interview is that the pitch seems to be working for her. She’s making some friends in music scene high places (in addition to Danny Brown she’s got GRIMES working on her new album???) and touring and getting more press than a lot of rappers that seems pretty sympathetic to her. Which, it shouldn’t be working right? I kinda feel like every time I try to engage with the meta-narrative and ask everybody to ignore the content I find myself surrounded by people who suddenly fell asleep.

I tend not to share stuff like this with you guys because I feel like for anybody that ISN’T looking at so much media that small variations in the formula end up being more interested than execution it’s all incredibly boring. Who wants to watch a random rapper who isn’t all that great get better? Who wants to watch a movie that’s okay but not that great have a nervous breakdown about the possibility that it’s okay but not that great?

Pretty much nobody.

Except, I do. In fact I kind of want to watch that stuff more than I’d like to watch the actual content being delivered to me these days. And I’m hoping maybe I’ve bombarded you guys with enough stuff that I can make you feel the same way by osmosis or something? There’s only so many meditations on the aesthetics of drone photography a guy can look at before they’re just photos taken by a fucking flying robot and if that’s true you can imagine how quickly the funny web videos nitpicking the artistic integrity of action blockbusters, the indie bands trying to bring “____” back and the shows about anti-heroes and daddy issues start to blend together these days. It’s not that any of those things suck (The stupid nitpicking videos about summer blockbusters I’m getting real sick of though) it’s that I’m starting to feel like we’ve all graduated from the 101 class here, right?

We’re in a very different position on the web than we were when I started this thing. RSS is pretty much dying with Google Reader because ambiently collecting all the updates you care about has gone from a specialized task for the web elite to the way basically everybody engages with the web and, in general, people prefer to get those updates tailored to them by social connection rather than news outlet. As a result the service I used to provide here of letting you know about 10 things you might not have known about before OTP seems to be more double checking you’re following the right people on Twitter.

I guess what I’m asking is, does anybody feel like they really need me to tell them what’s interesting that they might have missed anymore? Because honestly I’m not really finding that task that interesting the more I’ve automated it the more it’s become obvious that a robot can and does do this better than I do. When people tell me they’re behind on OTP I tell them they’re not missing much. Instead, I want to talk about the stuff I’m absolutely certain that nobody finds interesting but me and try to explain why the hell I give a crap about it.

So this is both a textual and meta-textual appeal that says this can work. It can work because there’s a teenage girl rapper that’s trying to get people to engage with her journey more than her content and that seems to be working and it can work because I just did it and at least two of you are still awake. Let’s see if I can do it again.

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