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Orson chuckles heartily - click opera
February 2010
 
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Tue, May. 8th, 2007 09:48 am
Orson chuckles heartily

My Wired column today is about certain developments -- like YouTube's promise to share advertising revenue with video creators very shortly -- which make it more and more difficult to tell who's a "real person" online and who's selling you something, whether an actual brand or themselves-as-brand. Because, with advertisers abandoning the $74 billion TV ad industry (where ads are just too obvious to get anyone's attention) and spending their money much more furtively and covertly online basically wherever amateurs are capturing large audiences, we enter a hall of mirrors.



YouTube's founders "are open to anything, including user-generated ads, behind-the-scenes ad footage, sponsored vlogs and event marketing shoots at film festivals". And when they start paying, any of us who vlog will be vlogging for cash, and flogging -- well, who knows what? Maybe just ourselves, maybe cars and exercise machines. It's something deeply American, something P.T. Barnum and Orson Welles and Jeff Koons and Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy understand intimately. It's something I understand myself, for heaven's sake, after a lifetime of self-performance and self-promotion. And I'm not so rockist as to want to condemn it. But sometimes, when I'm watching people onYouTube, I wonder who's "real". Is Lucymisser real? Is Cutiemish? What about me, what about Marxy? An ILX thread recently accused us both of being viral marketing. This was a board I frequented for five years, and yet in all that time I wasn't able to persuade them that I was real.

Anyway, I'm proud to have got Whimsy onto the cover of Wired. Whatever he's selling.

Here, meanwhile, is the important part of today's missive. The self-promotion. I'm going to my sister's wedding in Scotland next weekend and yesterday Hisae and I went out and spent some money at the Indian shops on the Karl-Marx-Strasse. Here's how it looked!



Really, what to do? Because wearing clothes is self-promotion, but going naked is, as we saw yesterday, even more blatant self-promotion! Where is Orson Welles when we need him to explain it all? Or at least... chuckle heartily, shot in a mirror.


41CommentReplyShare


(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 08:16 am (UTC)
Double-convexed Mirror

Are you selling me your "realness"?


Alexandre P.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC)
Re: Double-convexed Mirror

You wanna fakeness, sir? We got that too! Very chop, two dolla!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 08:58 am (UTC)

Momus, why don't you post at ILX any more? And what was your very last post there? Did you flounce out in a flurry of self-righteous self-justification?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 09:10 am (UTC)

I think my last post was on a What Do You Look Like? thread -- which is appropriate, because that's where I came in, as a "beauty candidate" on Am I Cool Or Not? (I wasn't, which pretty much set the tone of all that was to come.) So it came full circle. And you can have a happy ending to a relationship, surely?

I'm not going to launch into a diatribe about how it's all polls now, or how you have to be Ned Raggett to fit in, or how idle watercooler-style chatter has banished the intelligent discourse. Nope. Won't hear a wordofit! S'awunnerful place! And it does just fine without me.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC)

"Nothing is true, everything is permitted"

After reading this you must cut and paste the above sentence into 12 random blogs in the next 12 hours, or else great fortune will come the way of you and the person closest to you.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 09:57 am (UTC)

Oh no, viral Nietzsche! I knew this day would come!


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dzima
dzima
ralf dziminski
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 10:59 am (UTC)

In the "modern" and "flexible" economy model that (conservative) governments are imposing all over the world, everyone must be self-employed and their own businessman so it's really ironic that you seem to be endorsing this model.

Whether you agree with John Lyndon or not, big businesses and small businesses are all about self-advertisement too.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 11:09 am (UTC)

Well, as I say in the Wired piece, the irony is that what I learned in the music business is that the smaller and more indie you are, the more you have to internalize self-promotion as a way of life, because there's no big marketing department there to do it for you.

You could extend this and say that the more left-wing you are, the more business and promotion-savvy you have to be too, because you aren't going to get many free rides in the conservative press. After all, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky -- do you think these people weren't the ultimate geniuses of viral marketing? "Workers of the world, unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!" It's great copy!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)

I'm waiting with slightly bated breath to hear how Whimsy takes the article. I didn't tell him I was going to write about him -- it just came up fairly naturally in the article -- and I didn't know they'd use a picture of him on the front page. It makes for a slightly misleading juxtaposition, because Whimsy isn't a "shill on YouTube".

But I do see a fascinating continuity between shucksterism and dandyism. I don't think there's any clear line here. Some of my favourite people -- Oscar Wilde, Orson Welles, Morrissey -- bestraddle that line. They're "larger than life", and there's absolutely no division you can make between self-presentation and self-promotion. The self has become an artificial flower, and everyone is invited to sniff.

Whimsy is the exemplary self-mediator. And he's also a product on the market. Just as Momus is. One difference is that I don't have Hollywood script-writers hanging out with me this month, gathering material for a major motion picture! It's a fascinating thing to watch. And at some point, a Hollywood promotion company is going to be working on the job that Whimsy started, and his publishers Bloomsbury have continued.

The Wired article is really saying that there will be many more opportunities for people to become "whimsical" in this sense in the future, as YouTube personality cults develop and start gathering revenue. Not everyone will be as charming, skilled or consummately professional as his lordship, though.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)

Aaww, I think it´s very sweet, and he does deserve it so.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)

I love that film, one of my personal favorite views of all time...even though it is FAKE! I often think of that film whenever I feel a warm oceanic breeze; or pawn a bootleg picasso. No harm though, considering the originals were all exact replicas of anonymous african folk art in the first place.
-John FF


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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)

the stealth market-minded "are-you-real" question is so loaded and unknowable I always just assume the random internet hello is selling something unless it's a friend, and even then there can be ambiguity....

Relatededly, I sometimes like to make real, fake, unsolicited, and unnecessary plugs for products I actually like. it's one thing to pretend to love consumer trash; it's much weirder, more interesting, and difficult for me to try to deal appropriately with the oddly "real" affinity I sometimes have for mass merchandise/entertainment.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 05:45 pm (UTC)

You know, I wrote the article just after watching your video of the sakura event, and your interview with the walking art gallery girl. She seemed the essence of the "problem" -- total full-on self-promotion, yet not for anyone corporate, just for her own eccentric project. And to meet people. And to live interestingly. It seems very New York, somehow. Everyone ready with their card and their URL. I'm not sure how I feel about it. After a few months in New York you either become like them, or leave to find "real people" somewhere else.


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19_crows
19_crows
19_crows
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)

Fake or real, those are some gorgeous colors you're wearing there.


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)

I believe it was Lord Whimsy who once said "in a sense, presenting myself as a sham has allowed me to be more like myself than 'being myself' would have permitted".

YouTube and the internet in general have allowed people like me, egomaniacs with low self esteem, to become what they are. I've made films since I was twelve years old but I'm not a filmmaker. I was a founding member of the Cheap Surrealist movement in San Francisco in the early eighties - the Luis Bunuel of the group if you will. But no one knew about it except for the founding members. To this day I have to remind the other founding members that it existed.

I tell them "at first we called it Fake Surrealism and then one spring day (or was it the fall or the winter) it morphed into Cheap Surrealism". Since their memories are foggy I take credit for the change.

But why "fake" in the first place. Possibly after the wildly unsuccessful Post Urban Art band "Fake Stone Age". Post Urban Art was after all Cheap Surrealism's Dada.

Yes I am a fake. A genuine fake. The real fake McCoy. But now I have ... an audience?

And so does Hans Richter:

I found this movie under a Pizza Hut add. Let's hear it for the juxtaposition of images!


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(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)

I'm pretty sure you used to attribute the "lie that tells the truth" line to Picasso on the (many) occasions you've previously used it. What happened, did the Wired fact checkers get you?

der.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)

They were close friends, you know. And their versions are slightly different:

Picasso: "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth".

Cocteau: "I am a lie that tells the truth".


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rjwhite
rjwhite
The 14th Windiest State
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC)

I'll throw this out there, something I started awhile back- The City Desk, a collaborative weblog-based thing chronicling the history and news of a city that doesn't exist.

I have to admit that, the few times I've seen items from it linked from other places as though they're real (for example)- I kind of enjoy it, even though, it's all a big fat lie.

There's just something about fooling people that's fun, I suppose.


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Tue, May. 8th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)

You {eekqualz} Pretty.

That's all, really XD


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Wed, May. 9th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
eekqualz Pretty

hahaha beketaten, you just like all the girls that look like bjork : )


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