Slavoj Žižek: The Pervert’s Guide to Abercrombie & Fitch Catalogs
07:07 am

Pop Culture

Slavoj Žižek

From bed or from the tub, he will pontificate!
I’m not up to snuff on Žižek’s entire canon, but my favorite of his contributions (besides the time he told Occupy Wall Street not to fall in love with ourselves) is his insight into cultural capitalism—here’s an awesome little animated video where he lays it all out. I highly recommend it. The long and short of the talk is a sort of natural extension of Oscar Wilde’s socialist critique of charity. As Wilde points out that charity is used to atone for the fundamentally unjust system of capitalism, Žižek points out that we now try to atone for our consumerism by “voting with our dollar”—he uses Starbuck’s fair trade coffee and Tom’s shoes as two examples.

Basically, I’ve never been much on trying to evade the horrors of capitalism with “ethical consumerism.” For one, there’s just a dearth of “ethical” products left in this world, and two, you can’t dismantle a system simply by avoiding it. I usually say that telling a socialist to fight capitalism by not buying things is like telling an environmentalist to fight pollution by not breathing smog—both impossible and impotent. And I’m sure Žižek would agree. So this 2003 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, featuring copy written by the Slovenian Marxist philosopher himself, comes as no surprise.

The work is a snide little reflection on lust and desire, and it’s a fucking riot—totally befitting the “Karl Marx meets Groucho Marx” style they requested, and certainly an idiom in Žižek’s wheelhouse. If you’re considering the possibility that he’s not totally fucking with you, rest assured, Žižek is a fan of absurdist humor. And in case you don’t believe me, I’ve included a video where he makes the “Lynchian” case for tulips as vagina dentata. Remember folks, there are no clean hands in a dirty world, and there are no clean minds in Marxism!









Via DIS Magazine

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘The Fatal Floor’: PSA battles scourge of killer throw rugs back in the 1970s

Throw rugs
“Polish a floor, put a rug on it – you might as well set a man trap.” That line, which appears in “The Fatal Floor,” an amazing British public service announcement from the 1970s, is so much more enticing and dangerous and complex than ... anything else in the ad. I’ve watched it five times, and I’m no closer to figuring out how in tarnation it ever made it to air. Someone wrote this ad, found a suitable location, cast it, did makeup, there may have been multiple takes. There’s editing and even a noteworthy visual effect.

All to serve the purpose of ... warning the home viewer to be careful not to put a throw rug on a slippery hardwood surface.

That’s the peril they’re worried about…. throw rugs. I’m serious.
The Fatal Floor
“You might as well set a man trap.”
I have to admit, they did a good job. I’m throwing away all my throw rugs. But I’m going to keep those greasy rags right next to the gas range until I see a commercial telling me not to.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
We Make You Us: Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s strange and absurd guerrilla art of the 1970s
05:33 am


Mike Mandel
Larry Sultan

We Make You Us (1985)
Due to some sort of cultural amnesia, Banksy is often credited as the innovator of politically conscious “guerrilla art,” but there have always been weirdos reclaiming public space for social critique. It’s tragic that Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel don’t even get a fraction of Banksy’s name recognition. Sultan and Mandel began collaborating as grad students in 1972, and in ‘73 they began pasting their prints on billboards in the Bay area—sometimes directly over actual advertising. The pair never became very well known outside of the art world, but in 2012 (three years after Sultan’s death) their work was collected for an art book, and now the Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco is running a retrospective on their Billboards.

The series is irreverent and kind of Dada, the images ranging from strange to absurd to banal, mocking consumerism and wealth with a snide humor. In a world of such high media density, you can imagine walking right past one and not noticing the billboard’s content. It reminds me a little bit of Sean Tejaratchi’s work from Liar Town USA, where he manages to imitate the design cliches with a hilarious accuracy. Of course, Sultan and Mandel’s work isn’t direct design parody, but the subversive farce of hiding in plain sight makes for a biting denunciation. 

A collection of Larry Sultan’s work is also slated to show later this year, at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Mike Mandel continues to create beautiful works of public art.

Oranges On Fire (1975)

Electric Energy Consumption (1976)
More billboards after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Before ‘The Simpsons,’ Matt Groening drew cartoons for Apple computers
08:10 am


Matt Groening

You might remember my post from a while back on Hunter S. Thompson’s truly weird Apple computer commercial, but I think I’ve found something to top it. Apple’s branding strategy has usually been to flatter those who fancy themselves “outsiders” or “rebels”—basically everyone in the entire world. But with this 1989 attempt to woo Generation Xers, the company took a more subtle approach, with a pamphlet illustrated by Matt Groening.

At the time, Groening had plenty of underground cred with his uber-angsty comic strip, “Life in Hell.” As the name suggests, the theme of his work was much more along the lines of “surviving post-modern desperation” than “hot blonde chucking a sledgehammer at Big Brother.” But Gen Xers had a reputation (whether earned or not) for capitulating to the daily grind, and Groening’s nervous, insecure art probably felt like a perfect fit for engaging with disaffected young people preparing themselves for the job market.

The brochure was passed out in college bookstores and in between the pages selling computers as the newest college necessity, Groening’s cartoons provided a few funny, self-effacing prototypes of disoriented students. I’m sure they kept prospective customers’ attention. Groening also did a couple of posters for Apple, including one titled “Bongo’s Dream Dorm,” a fantasy of college life for his “Life in Hell” lead character. Shortly after, The Simpsons took off, and Groening’s been free to mock Apple’s “culture of innovation” ever since.











Via Vintage Zen

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Nirvana nightmare: Apparently Kurt Cobain is alive and well selling beer in the Netherlands
08:04 am


Kurt Cobain

Here’s a commercial for Bavaria Radler beer where it shows the likes of Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon, Bruce Lee, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis chilling on a tropical island drinking some cold brewskies.

I’m sure Mr. Cobain—who famously feared being a sell-out—would have just loved this concept. Doubtful that it’ll cause Yoko Ono to yuck it up much either. I smell a lawsuit!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
The grooviest tarot deck ever: The Linweave Tarot, 1967
03:01 pm



Linweave Tarot
“Jupiter” and “L’Amoureux”
In 1967 the Linweave Paper Co. was looking to promote its outstanding paper products, so they hit on a terrific promotional idea—publish a large-format, full-color tarot deck with art in the contemporary style executed by several top graphic artists of the moment. So they hired Ron Rae, Hy Roth, Nicolas Sidjakov, and David Mario Palladini to do it, and the results was a lively whimsical deck that looks like it came straight out of Yellow Submarine. Unfortunately, the Linweave Paper Co. apparently closed up shop in 1989. So today, that means that the tarot deck is the thing it’s more known for. A collector’s item, it now goes for about $100 used on Amazon.

The actual title of the deck is “Linweave Spells Your Fortune with a Modern Interpretation of the Medieval Tarot Pack: Presented on the Most Exciting Creative Papers in America”—just that alone is pretty awesome. I’ve selected a choice few for presentation here; you can see many more cards at these friendly websites.
Linweave Tarot
Linweave Tarot, cover
Linweave Tarot
Linweave Tarot
“Le Mai”
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Hunter S. Thompson hawks Apple’s Macintosh computer in 90s commercial
06:15 am


Hunter S. Thompson

Ah yes, this is more what I’m used to
Apple products have always branded themselves as counterculture and cutting edge—the technology of “creative types.” But it’s still a little surprising to see Hunter S. Thompson on a commercial for computers. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve never been too judgmental when it comes to artists schilling this doo-dad or that widget to make some extra scratch. It’s not like he’s tap-dancing for Exxon or Halliburton, and there are no clean hands in a dirty world—getting pissy at an anti-capitalist for making money under capitalism is like getting pissed at an environmentalist for breathing smog. And Hunter had notorious bouts of writer’s block; it’s very possible he just needed the money.

Or maybe Thompson just wanted a free computer. Supposedly, he received a Mac in the 80’s from an editor. Since his assignments were perpetually late, everyone hoped the new technology would speed him along. That might have worked, had he not became irritated and blown the poor machine away with a shotgun… supposedly. Say what you will about PCs, I could shoot three before they cost as much as one Apple.

He’s still a pretty fucking hilarious choice for a spokesperson—did that famously speedy mumble (accompanied here by butt-rock guitar) really entice the Gen X-ers to rush our and buy Macs?

Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Before ‘Crocodile Dundee,’ Paul Hogan was a ‘drug dealer’?
02:48 pm


Paul Hogan

I have always thought there was something likable about Paul Hogan and his seemingly unassuming, rough, good-natured charm. It was what made Crocodile Dundee such an international hit, and even tempted travelers to visit Down Under with the promise of “another shrimp on the barbie.”

With Crocodile Dundee it was always difficult to know where Hogan finished and the fictional character began. They seemed one-and-the same—even if there was a sneaking suspicion that for anyone to be this nice in the world of entertainment he must be a bit of a bastard.

Crocodile Dundee was a phenomenal success by any standards, but especially for a first film.

“Everything was a first. It was my first film script. I’d written 500 sketches but this was a long sketch.

“John (Cornell) had never produced a movie. Peter Faiman was the boy wonder of television but he’d never directed a movie. Everyone in it except the technical crew were first-timers.

“It went through the roof. It became the most successful independent movie ever made around the world. It was like going to the Olympics and rolling your jeans up and saying, ‘Can I have a run in the 100?’ and winning the gold medal.”

Paul Hogan’s comedy career started when he was a rigger and painter on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. His break came doing stand-up on the TV talent show New Faces, which eventually led to his own hit comedy series in 1973.

Like many other actors and actresses, Hogan did a brief spell selling cigarettes to his fellow Australians in the 1970s. His ads for Winfields made the brand a best-seller, and his tag-line, “Anyhow, have a Winfield…” became a national catchphrase.
It is something Hogan now regrets, and he considers “encouraging people to smoke,” as akin to being a “drug dealer.”

“At the time, 1971 or something, they used to say: ‘Doctors recommend …’ or ‘Nine out of 10 smokers prefer…’ We were all being conned. When they put the medical warning in there I said, ‘I’m going to get out of this.’

“Young ones were taking up smoking and all going for Winfield. It was a staggering success but I was a drug dealer.

“But who knew then?”

There it is again, that disarming charm.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Tale of Two Microbes’: Food poisoning meets campy British 70s sci-fi
06:17 am


A Tale of Two Microbes

A Tale of Two Microbes
In this marvelous 19-minute educational film about the dangers of carelessly handled foodstuffs, “Basil and Desdemonia Salmonella,” ably and theatrically embodied by seasoned British actors Frank Muir and June Whitfield, manage to (SPOILER ALERT) evade a battery of dangers, such as heat, cold, soap, and so on to start a gargantuan, toxic family in the belly of some unsuspecting Briton.

Throughout, Basil explains the dangers that lie ahead while offering reassurances that the stupid humans will likely neglect to wash their knives properly, re-heat their repasts at a sufficiently low temperature, and so on. These dialogues, set in a suitably sci-fi and low-budget soundstage, are intercut with more traditional scenes of the aforementioned stupid humans committing the very transgressions that assure the microbes’ survival. Stupid humans!! We see a well-meaning butcher and, later, a somewhat quarrelsome married couple preparing a meal.

Basil, who carries around a pipe all the time, and Desdemonia both wear the silver signifiers of 1970s’ sci-fi, the type of garb that incidentally was lovingly lampooned in “App Development and Condiments,” the most recent episode of Community.
A Tale of Two Microbes
Muir was the type of older British actor (he was also a writer) who in an alternate universe might have played Alfred to Adam West’s Batman; he’s awfully familiar to me but I’ll be damned if I recognize anything in his CV. Whitfield has had a more illustrious career—she’s still active at the age of 88—and might be best known for her portrayal of “Mother” in Ab Fab and even appeared in one of those cringeworthy Friends episodes where the whole gang flew to London for a wedding or something. Interestingly, “A Tale of Two Microbes” has more than a whiff of the old Doctor Who episodes about them, so it’s fitting that she popped up in the two-part episode “The End of Time” just a few years ago.

“A Tale of Two Microbes” is dated as all hell and irredeemably British, campy and enjoyable. Just when things start to lag, Basil’s “Uncle Pedro” shows up. Trust me: you don’t want to miss Uncle Pedro.

via Weird Universe

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Hello Pussy! Hello Kitty/Playboy products are now a thing
12:58 pm

Pop Culture

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty/Playboy
Of all the Venn diagrams in the world, I suspect I can forgo the one showing Hello Kitty/Playboy demographic overlap. I’m guessing it would consist mainly of creepy guys as well as cooler women who don’t give a damn what people think of them. I’m OK with the second group…...

French retailer Colette recently announced a new line of products mashing up two of the most recognizable (if oddly matched) brands on earth.

Here’s RocketNews24’s report:

French clothing and accessories retailer Colette is introducing a line of Hello Kitty x Playboy items, including candy, mirrors, memo notes, lighters, mugs, Leica cameras, iPhone cases, socks, bowties, boxers, shirts, and more. Naturally, the items sport one of two perfect logo mashups—Kitty wearing bunny ears, and the Playboy bunny with a bow on one ear.

The collaboration was celebrated last Friday at Paris’ Crazy Horse cabaret, with Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi in attendance, who said the new design was “really sexy cool.” Also in attendance was Colette creative director and purchasing manager Sarah Andelman, who spear-headed the campaign.

Although the club typically includes a variety of topless acts, all of that night’s entertainment was PG. After all, it’s still Hello Kitty.

That the event was held at a strip club that had to be made “PG” for the evening might have been a warning sign that went unheeded.

Having said that, if you want to wear a $274 Hello Kitty/Playboy-branded bowtie, I’m not going to judge you for it. (Well, I probably will judge you for it, but here’s to hoping you have other fine qualities.) And actually, context is everything, if you’re a super cool hipster librarian lady, you really can buy and display any and all of these products, go for it!
Hello Kitty/Playboy speaker
Portable speaker, €40 ($54.94)
Hello Kitty/Playboy
iPhone case 5/5S, €25 ($34.34)
Hello Kitty/Playboy bowtie
Bowtie, €200 ($274.72)
Hello Kitty/Playboy lighter
Lighter, €5 ($6.87)
Hello Kitty/Playboy lollipops
Lollipops, €5 ($6.87)
Hello Kitty/Playboy temporary tattoo
Temporary tattoos, €6 ($8.24)
Hello Kitty/Playboy bonbons
Bonbons, €1 ($1.37)
Hello Kitty/Playboy coffee mug
Coffee mug, €12 ($16.48)
Hello Kitty/Playboy dice game
Dice game, €10 ($13.74)
Hello Kitty/Playboy multicolored ballpoint pens
Multicolored ballpoint pens, €4 ($5.49)
via RocketNews24

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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