Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh, Honestly!
Here's what I listened to at work today (as usual, click on the image to take a closer look). Looks like t'ings are a little heavier over at Brady's house. Deicide? Talk about guilty pleasures!

But it's not about guilt, is it? It's about embarrassment! When Woebot dances to his top ten, he isn't trying to do something shameful, he's trying to embarrass himself. Growing up as Fall fan in a small town, I quickly established a psychological link between enjoying music and feeling embarrassed. That would explain my love of Current 93, then.

Sadly, the only thing that I find embarrassing about the lists I've been posting is how predictable they've been. Unlike Carl's, my lists don't contain any glaring oddities (at least, for anyone who reads this blog). Therefore, in the spirit of making an absolute tit of myself, I'd like to confess to two bands I particularly like, who will never become critically acceptable, let alone cool:

(i) Leatherface.

(ii) Half Man Half Biscuit.

There, I said it.


Brady Cranfield! said...

Point taken. But I still think this resembles the modality of the guilty pleasure: embarrassment plus pride or satisfaction in one's embarrassing choice, in practice equals a guilty pleasure or something very much like it. You know you love it regardless -- and it's funny and fun to admit it! Perhaps, like language, this kind of dynamic or structuration always-already precedes us, giving context and shape to our choices. Or maybe the whole affair is something more common amongst a certain community of self-identified music self-reflexive lovers. Anyway, I used to have some Leatherface, too. Hey -- what about Snuff?

Biggie Samuels said...

The difference is that embarassment is public, while guilt is private.

I think there's a (patently ludicrous) case to be made for Snuff's version of the music from the Shake'n'Va commercial as a hauntological claassic.

Anonymous said...

Very astute observation on the association between embarassment and pleasure. What is the libidinal structure of music fandom?

- barbara

Biggie Samuels said...

You - as a C93 fan - should know.

And, if you're going to start talking French to me, isn't The Other a more useful concept here than Libidinal Economy? That is to say, the whole embarassment thing seems to depend upon the (anticipated) disapproval of a (possibly imagined) third party?

Anonymous said...

What if the Other is not imaginary at all? What if the Other is actually a real person (or community), and the embarassment comes out of a melancholic denial of their existence?

People are in fact punished by their peers for their consumption choices, as you know very well. These may be small punishments in the grand scheme of things, but when they come in adolescence they can be extremely hurtful, and I think, very seriously, that they work to shape people's future behavior and affectations.

I think irony is a form of melancholy, a la Judith Butler. Just sayin'.

- Barbara

Biggie Samuels said...

"I think irony is a form of melancholy"

I think that the "ironic" appreciation of "cheesey" music usually stems from two related impulses:

(i) The desire to assert cultural superiority;

(ii) A melancholic yearning for an (imaginary?) stage in (the listener's?) past when things could be enjoyed in an unmediated fashion and felt very deeply and sincerely - even if these things had an inherent element of crapness about them.

Obviously, these impulses relate to the desire to ridicule the music choices of others but I don't thnink this gets the ridiculed/embarrassed party off the hook.

We're all complicit in this particular weird cultural merry-go-round (and I'm guilty of all these things)but I don't really think there's anything much wrong with it. At best, these behaviours could be seen as a fairly creative response to the more deadening aspects of pomo culture - a la h**ntology,