February 2nd, 2012 / 3:40 pm

Old Future

One year ago on February 16, 2011, as Odd Future made their television debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, maniacally performing “Sandwiches” in their nerd/hipster-thug stage presence, a girl dressed as Sadako from Ring (1998) and/or its remake The Ring (2002) listlessly stood around in clear view on stage with them, as if recently excised from hikikomori, a “midbrow” pop-conscious nod which I’ve always found interesting, if not brilliant. Where Warhol and Koons seem to didactically curate their references, attached to their affected semiotic detachedness, it is rap’s erratic and somewhat manic collision/collation of culture which is our “true,” or at least more effective commentary. At one point, near the loud climax of the song, cymbals crashing, bros screaming, Sadako cowers with hands over her ears — as if suddenly transported into the NBC studio on 49th street. Though it may be her fault, one imagines, her voluntary entry into our real world as she climbs out of the television, scaring the shit out of everyone in front of their own televisions at home. The artifice’s protective medium of the screen was now broken, its very transgression part of the narrative. And when Tyler the Creator jumped on Fallon’s back as the latter bid his audience adieu, the former made odd (somewhat unfortunate, immune to irony) Blackface expressions with almost apelike movements. It’s hard to know how subtle, if any, his sarcasm was. Was it the self-critique of concession to corporate complicity (a la Cobain’s “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” t-shirt for their Rolling Stone cover), or Tyler simply now had a friend in Fallon, a fellow conspirator in the conspiracy of success. One year later, they are not news anymore, the future turns old; another group of young highly intelligent men in an alt-rock or rap band will be heralded as the real deal. Every generation wants to believe what they see before them on a screen somehow transcends the shallow vapidity from which it cometh, even a cute girl on your floor, actually smiling behind all that hair.


  1. Edward James Schafer

      The gnomes def caught my eye, too. I thought of Odd Future’s ‘performance’ as a garden, especially due to the ‘quiet before the storm’ stillness of Tyler and Hodgy before the beat dropped, and they got their swag on (hard), much like a plant emerging from the beginning life as a seed. Not only are those types of gnomes recognized by the European gardening community as ‘helping’ out with the gardening-related labor, they also are linked with kitsch art, something that is not new to the alt rap/rock/electro scenes in terms of dress re: “nerd/hipster-thug stage presence”. Garden gnomes have been on the lawns of American households since the 50’s, and while the mindsets of those living in the houses and the look of the gardens themselves have shifted over the years, for the gnomes, aint a damn thang changed.

  2. leapsloth14

      the ring scared the hell out of me

  3. deadgod

      A rare example of the remake being superior to the original.  The kid was intensely creepy, and the scene in the video lab (?) where the guy [no spoiler].  I wish somebody talented would take the care to push the idea . . . wherever.  Cronenberg?  Shyamalan?  (Seriously, …)  –Godard?

  4. Anonymous

      I heard ODD FUTURE at a rave last summer.  They sounded horrible.  Rap is pure parody now.

  5. Stephen Tully Dierks

      “odd (somewhat unfortunate, immune to irony) Blackface expressions with almost apelike movements”–this reads as offensive to me w/r/t racial stereotypes/race-based condescension, i know it may be unpopular to mention. i didn’t interpret that part of the performance as primarily sarcastic at least in any knowing, calculated way, rather just adrenaline/joy. that and mos def getting in the camera was what made it a sweet performance for some people.

  6. Anonymous

      Dude, can I just…

      At state university, you start to think that ALL critical over-signification is just uninspired, boring-ass bullshit that no one even believes, but you (Jimmy) work in that academic register so fucking marvelously. Not just because you do it to pop culture shit and that seems funny or something. But because you do it lovingly and carefully and, sure, I’m interested because it’s a smart voice talking about things that people actually have spent time relating to and because that seems like a thing I want to have happen.I feel stupid for just complimenting the author instead of discussing the text, but I feel like it’s this “body of work” that is most interesting to me. Or, anyway, that’s what came out of my keyboard. Suck it.

  7. Trey

      it’s like horror film. it will come around again.

  8. Anonymous

      I don’t think so.  Horror has never left to come back around.

      The horror genre was born out of the sexual exploitation genre, mostly because the prude shrivs of america decided to ban/phase out sex in film.

      Some directors from the exploitation world began making horror films as a cheap means to make up lost money.  Audiences ate up the violence/gore and the rest is history.

      Horror has never been an art form.  I think there has been a serious decline in aesthetic style, but its purpose has remained static.

      Rap, originally, was about 2 things: expression from an oppressed group of people; war against the record labels (or the man depending on how you want to interpret it).   The days of Eazy-E slanging rock to create a label are over.  Relics exist but almost all have become parodies of what they once were.  For example, Ice-Cube acts in Disney movies where he’s supposed to be some step-father to a middle-class family.  When times get tough for cube, he resorts to miming scary faces, and presenting a ‘hood’ aura, which usually ends in scared white people leaving him alone or acquiescing to his demand.

      Ice-T plays a fucking cop on television.

      New artists are just as bad. 

      Iggy Azalea is a beautiful Australian girl who sings/dresses like an LA hoodrat, because being an LA hoodrat makes money, and being a soft-voiced Australian girl doesn’t.  At least not here.

      Lil Wayne’s songs convey one idea: I LIKE MONEY.  He can’t sing.  He can’t rap.  He can’t produce melodies, but yet he’s the most popular artist in ‘rap’ at the moment.  A parody marketed well is still a parody.

      Odd Future is a joke.  Not going to spend much time explaining why.


  9. Trey

      I think I disagree about horror never leaving. I mean it isn’t hard to look at, say, the end of the Universal horror era and see horror devolving into a complete parody of itself (in fact your phrase “rap is pure parody” is what helped me make this connection), with shit like son of x (son of dracula, son of frankenstein), x horror icon meets y horror icon (frankenstein meets the wolfman), terrible spinoffs (house of frankenstein, house of dracula), etc.

      the recovery from this was sci-fi horror in the 1950s through the cold-war era. Then that peters off until there’s 70s horror, with the slasher, etc. but that ends up in hopeless self-parody as well, with I think notable examples being like “holiday horror” films—beginning with Halloween (an actually pretty good one), but then you get shit like Black Christmas and Jack Frost and numerous “birthday horror”, as well as the beginning of franchising horror films (which happened to a certain extent in the Universal era but now really comes into full swing) when you have like 13 Friday the 13th movies and god knows how many Halloweens and Nightmares on Elm Street and so on.

      And then there’s a sort of contemporary revival. there have been some scary movies in the last couple of decades, but nothing recently that’s really knocked me out (and even if there are one or two isolated examples, the point is that more widely, things aren’t good). Final Destination is a joke, none of the recent exorcism movies have been scary, I’ve heard nothing but abysmal reviews of The Devil Inside or whatever it’s called, etc.

      So that’s what I perceive (and some others do too, these observations are not original to me, in fact they were pointed out to me by someone else who got some of it from articles on horror film, etc.) as the cycle of horror film. It never leaves but it gets pretty shitty for a while before it gets good again, or at least I think so.

      I also disagree about horror as an art form, but of course I don’t want to argue with you about it because everyone is absolutely entitled to say what they think is and isn’t art and to live by that, I have no problem with you not thinking horror is art, and I think that’s totally defensible.

      my main point, though, is that I think sometime, maybe even pretty soon, some people with actual talent will look at what rap has been and what it is now and realize it should be different and start making good music. I guess we’ll see.

  10. Anonymous

      So what you’re saying is you want us to get off your lawn.

  11. herocious

      difficult to make ‘any-brow’ pop culture references. must warn warn others

  12. Anonymous

      I live in Hollywood.  No lawn to speak of for miles.

  13. Anonymous

      Trey, I feel you.

      I considered Universal in my original comment but omitted them.  I don’t know if I consider the Universal Monster series of film to be horror.  Horror is such an ambiguous bucket.

      Dracula/Wolfman etc. were BIG budget films for their time, which is contrary to the first rule of horror film: keep a low budget.  I think they play like soap opera fantasies, but I’m looking backwards.  So I dunno.

      Film, in general, has eroded to such a point I think it’s extremely difficult to find anything worth watching.  At least from America. 

      My original comment wasn’t about if horror was good or bad, but if it remained true to its original purpose.  I think it has.

      What was awesome about rap was its detachment from the corporate record label.  The original intent of rap is dead.  It’s nothing more than a corporate schema, a formula to make money with minimal effort.

      Nostalgia allows the weak and unneeded to remain in our lives.

      Rap is nostalgia.

      Have you ever listened to dubstep?

  14. Trey

      that’s interesting about Universal as not horror. something to think about.

      I’ve listened to a little dubstep, although some of my more asshole friends always argue about what actually qualifies as dubstep and what is just electronica so I don’t know.

  15. Anonymous

      Well dubstep used to be underground, now it’s becoming very commercial.  All of electronic music is, to my dismay.

      But some dubstep artists still go hard.  Check Borgore, 6blocc, BARE, Noisia, and/or Nero.  You might like something.

      This is still one of my favorite songs: