Friday, September 21, 2007

the residents


I'm a little troubled by this film clip.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Here's my experience of watching the film clip for The Third Reich and Roll by The Residents.
Perhaps you could watch it first before reading my post. Could compare our experiences.
Anyway, my first reaction was one of amusement. This is great! Funny drill-like go karts and strange warped-trumpet-wailing-voice over an absurd fanfare.
Then my humour went through the roof with the absurdity of the paper-clad KKK guys tapping their percussion out of time to the pseudo tribal beats wrung through a delay, dancing maniacally like a poorly animated Bananas in Pajamas stop motion nightmare. All over the top of a poorly rendered land of a thousand dances tune.
Classic! But disturbing. And this powerful symbol of racism
being both ridiculed but also paraded for my entertainment was also troubling. The KKK are real and have murder thousands and thousands of African Americans. Not necessarily something to make light of. But such funny presentation.
And when the storm trooper broke onto the seeming pagan ritual at the end, I hoped it would kill the Klansmen and then itself. But it only zapped one and then the clip changed scene so I felt a little bit frustrated.
The frustration continued as the symbol of the nazi swastika was revealed beneath the arch and then reappeared on the TV after it was destroyed by the giant steaks. I wanted to see it completely destroyed. And what of the further subjugation of another Klansman by a guitar weilding avatar, riding him off the stage? Why? But then Hitler was seen to preside over it all, unchallenged, just after a TV bearing a swastika and a guitar moved to the forefront of the stage, underpinned by detuned 50s surf rock.
What are they saying? That rock and roll is racist? That it's completely subverted its black heritage? Why is Hitler the last thing we see? Are they saying that modern popular music is totalitarian? That it's trying to destroy all other genres? I wanted to see more obvious denigration of the racist elements depicted even as I was enjoying seeing them portrayed so humorously. Presented as entertaining symbols. Perhaps there can be no greater indictment than to ridicule them in this way?
That's what I'd like to think but it's easy to make light of things that haven't directly assaulted me.
Fuck it. I like it anyway!
Does that make me a bad man?

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6 Comments:

At 10:39 am, Blogger David said...

Yeah i like it too, the album is great, a giant out of tune medley of 60s classics. As for the imagery, to me it is a reference to mass sentiment being sublimated into popular culture. If we imagine that racism has always been present (in some way, sublimated and/or blatant and conscious) then it's fair to assume that it's still there in 'mass consciousness' today, somewhere. But where?
Rock music? Anyway, to me the stupidity of a lot the songs the residents parody in this case and the whole 'love song' thing is a perfect place to look for sublimated things.. One side of the LP is called 'Hitler was a vegetarian' I laughed when I saw the steaks. :)

 
At 11:03 am, Blogger Dreck said...

Ahh...
Far more eloquent than my late night ramblings.
Yes, I agree with what you say, David.
I love the album, too.
And it's one of the best film clips I've ever seen but I'm keenly aware (to the point of over-sensitivity?) of the possibility of multiple (mis)interpretations.

 
At 12:39 pm, Blogger David said...

I don't think you're being over sensitive at all! It's so common for us to assume that because something is represented then it's agreed with or endorsed, rather than questioned. It's almost that that's what the whole KKK Hitler thing is in the clip, like a bringing to light what is included in popular culture by being left out. Still love the steaks! I had a dream after I wrote the comment and Hitler was in it. He shot someone in the head for questioning him! It made me wonder if he ever did things like that himself, or if he just gave orders. (imagine that! At the trials in the Hague: "I only gave orders, I never carried them out...") Bizarre.

 
At 5:46 pm, Blogger Dreck said...

Weird, I've been having odd authoritarian dystopia dreams lately.
That kind of denial is pretty common: "I only drove the trains, it's not like I was pulling the trigger." And so on.
I like Hannah Arendt's declamation of the 'banality of evil' in relation to Nazi's and the treatment of Jews at that time. Some people can hide behind bureaucracy and other rationalised processes to assuage their guilt. Just following orders...
Hitler's been popular this week: Below is a link to a funny resubtitling of Downfall, that amazing film about Hitler's last days in the bunker. I don't feel uncomfortable laughing at that, strangely enough.
http://www.b3ta.com/links/HItler_Banned_From_iSketch
Thanks for your thought provocation, David!

 
At 9:17 pm, Blogger David said...

Neither do I. No idea what iSketch is either. How have you been anyway? Heard from your brother lately? (it just occured to me you might not know it's Wlazlo...)

 
At 9:51 am, Blogger Ann O'Dyne said...

I have met 'The Residents' in San Francisco at Ralph Records.
They are all gentle articulate sensitive and artistic guys.

I can assure you they most certainly loathe everything that NAZism and the KKK represent.

The best way to ridicule something is to popularise it.

If we all dressed as 'Osamas', if we all insisted on prayer mats in the office 5 times a day, this would be the best way to bring down radical muslims.
Then we could go about ranting for jesus and bring down the radical christians as well.

peace and love.

 

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