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Rock ‘n’ roll’s alternate realities: Michael Jackson in a Joy Division T-shirt
04:20 pm


Joy Division
Michael Jackson
Rock ‘n’ roll’s alternate realities: Michael Jackson in a Joy Division T-shirt

The other day I wrote “Photoshop is the new surrealism.” It was one of those things that just popped into my head and sounded right at the time. But the more I thought about it the more it seemed to hold some truth. I try to imagine the fun Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp might have had with Adobe software. With all of the imagery available on the Internet, a dada collagist like Hannah Hoch would have thrived in the era of Google Images. The permutations and juxtapositions are infinite. The idea: take what’s there and create what’s not there.

Needless to say, not all Photoshop is art. But some of it, like art, lies to get at a bigger truth. Like the above picture of Michael Jackson wearing a Joy Division T-shirt. It’s fake but some of us wish it weren’t. The idea that Jackson was a Joy Division fan (even before Joy Division existed) is a thought that brings all kinds of groovy things to the fore—like the fact that pop culture is inherently a mash-up, that radio, iTunes and deejay mixes have made us grow accustomed to a world where everything collides, bounces off each other and often melds into a somewhat messy wholeness (This started for me a long time ago when I was 12 years old listening to a transistor radio transmitting a seamless stream of songs from artists whose only commonality was a good beat and a good hook. The Supremes melding into The Animals melding into Blue Cheer melding into Tom Jones).

In the collective consciousness of rock ‘n’ roll, the playlist that endures is immense, eternal, and like Michael Jackson wearing a Joy Division T-shirt, inclusive. The picture may be a lie, but the idea of it, what it suggests, is true. Rock music succeeds better than any other art form in the shattering of barriers, in bringing people together and in re-inventing reality. My world changed radically in 1963 when I first heard The Beatles on a jukebox in a pinball parlor in Southern France. I had no idea who they were, but for a moment time froze and I sensed a different future ahead of me than the one I thought I had been heading for.

When I initially discovered the photo of Jackson wearing Joy Division, I didn’t wonder “why?” I thought “why not?” It was a lie worth believing. I never came to rock ‘n’ roll for the facts. I came for the fantasy.

Posted by Marc Campbell
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