Saturday, April 23, 2016

Prince II

I wrote some thoughts on the death of Prince here. I tried to tie those up into some kind of point. I noticed after I finished that it was a similar flesh/spirit conflict that characterized so much of his music, although from a much different perspective and then closed with "Forever in my Life", which might be his best "Is it about a lover or about God?" song without any conscious thought. So, I'm weirdly proud of parts of it.

I don't expect this one to have as much of that. I'm just having a number of reactions after a couple of days of seeing other people's reactions.

Prince Was a Genius No Matter How You Define It. Yep.

This video, so long as it exists, is from the 1988 Lovesexy tour, which was frankly also the Black Album tour, as he played just as extensively from that album, although it hadn't been released officially at the time.

One of the things I particularly like in this song is how he starts a dirty line, "I'm gonna put her in the back seat and drive her" and gives just enough pause for you to buy in before add "to Tennessee". It's a nice delivery.

Here's Vernon Reid of Living Colour discussing Prince's legacy. It's very well said.

I've seen casually thrown about is the "fact" of the movie Purple Rain being misogynist. This is a problem I struggle with on a long of occasions, and, mind you, it's been some time since I've seen the movie, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to agree. I will agree that my recollection is that it definitely includes misogyny and The Kid, Prince's character, is an abusive partner to Apollonia. As with many of these types of situations, I'm not immediately inclined to agree the movie textually supports his behavior. I know, he's played by Prince, so he's cool as shit, but that's not necessarily the same.

There also seems a lot of talk about what will happen to his much discussed vault of unreleased material. I saw a tweet that said it wouldn't be right to release all of this material for someone like him who so carefully planned and guarded his material. I can't help wondering if a person who so carefully planned and guarded his material if he didn't have a plan for the posthumous release of some of it. I know there are articles with open speculation about what plans he did make for his estate, if any. I don't know, it's just another perspective, I haven't seen.

I know from finding videos to post here from all kinds of weird sources, most of which will probably be down in a couple of days, I reckon, that he certainly was successful at keeping that control. I might be a bad person, on some level, to work this hard to circumvent that, but, man, this just needs the music.

I'm not sure why everyone is determined to say you can't stream Prince online, though, when all you need to do is join Tidal. Is everyone hiding that? You can also easily purchase most things from online stores, too. It's not everywhere, but it still seems like people are trying to make a much simpler narrative out of his relationship with the Internet than was quite true. Is it just for drama or is it not bothering to put in the research?

I could say so much more. After visiting his catalog, I'd like to defend Batman. "Batdance" aside, it's aged better than the movie, I think. I'd need to spend more time on it, but I also think his later catalog deserves a much better reception than its gotten. Popular artists are unrealistically expected to stay current, which often isn't as realistic as it seems. To my ears today, the '90s material and beyond might not have felt like what the people needed at that time, but it sounds great as part of his catalog as a whole.

I'll wrap up with a Sign o' the Times song again, though. It's really my most important personal Prince touchstone.

Friday, April 22, 2016


I don't know how to address the death of Prince.

Usually when a celebrity dies, I can place them in a place where it makes sense. In most cases, of course, it's just a vague sense that a person I respected or admired died and the more general sadness that the their talent will not be providing new joy. In some cases, it's a weird mix of that and something like a distant, but much loved family member passed. That's not quite right, but I think it's as close as I'll get at this moment.

This feels like Dionysus has fallen from Olympus.

It's not reasonable. He was clearly human. He had a very human struggle with his record company. The struggle was flawed, and his reaction was awkward. It was the reaction of a person trying to feel with a situation he was deeply unhappy with, who didn't know a way to handle it any longer.

More importantly, the reason we respond to his music is essentially human. The beauty of "Purple Rain" is in how amazingly it captures a feeling we all recognize, a heartbreak we all empathize with. Even that amazing guitar solo isn't there as a mere show of his virtuosity, it captures and carries through the emotion of the song.

Not only that, he's a man of his place. Listen to Around the World in a Day, much praised at the time for its psychedelic sheen, but give songs like "Raspberry Beret" and "Paisley Park" a new listen. These are songs by someone from the midwest. It's not necessarily the way they tell us such simple tales in basic terms of Americana, but because they flow so naturally from his dream imagery.

And yet he managed to die in April, which will lead to a lifetime of these maudlin tributes, that will always naturally fit his own words, like it was ordained to be.

In the end, though, it comes down to how we all react and I realize it continues to be the humanity I react to.

He's been criticized a lot for he handled his own career after leaving the record company. Trying a variety of release methods and experimenting with a variety of musical styles and lyrical themes that didn't connect as well with much of his audience. Perhaps just a further demonstration of his humanity. I certainly hope in all of that he was able to find creative satisfaction for himself anyway. He certainly gave the rest of us as much beauty and creativity as we could ever hope for from one human.

Some part of me knows I should finish this up something to make everyone dance and remember the joy of Prince's music. A "Housequake", "Let's Go Crazy", "Anotherloverholenyohead" or the like. It feels like how it should finish up.

But this is the one that's stuck in my head. A man has left us. A man we are bettered to have shared with him while we had the chance.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Diversity and demand

I'm a little confused.

So, the Scarlett Johansson in the remake of Ghost in the Shell controversy has opened up again due to another Caucasian actor playing an explicitly Japanese character in a big budget movie.

There's something I don't understand.

Professional douchebag Max Landis, famous due to being the son of the world's funniest child murderer, has posted some condescending nonsense about saying the people complaining don't understand how Hollywood works. I'm not sure in this context why anyone who is interested in the subject should even pretend to care.

But here's the thing I get out of this, for whatever it's worth.

Hollywood does not make expensive movies with Asian stars and makes a very small number with black stars because they don't believe the demand exists. The logic goes, it's a business decision and not a racist one.

If we take this at face value, and I don't at all, but I'll play along for argument's sake, then how are people to express that there is a demand? If there are no expensive Hollywood movies to see and vote with our dollars on, then publicly expressing concerns over that lack, especially in cases where it stands out, such as this case, seems the only option available to communicate the growing interest in seeing Asian actors in important roles in expensive movies.

Am I missing something? Is publicly stating "I would like to spend my hard earned cash on this" not a valid message to send? Is there a way we're all missing that doesn't involve simply staying quiet and buying whatever they sell because they say so? I suspect most people raising this concern would be quite interested to hear it.

All I know that if one spends too much time listening to or discussing Max Landis that their brains will start to melt, leading them to eventually be as dumb as him. No one wants that, do they?

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