crack de do
(originally posted 10/1/2013)
“You see, what makes our culture simultaneously infuriating and gratifying is its uncanny ability to muzzle the rebel by gradually absorbing him into the system with an intoxicating web of money, fame, and chicks that ultimately dulls his senses to the point where he can no longer even remember what it was he was fucking rebelling against in the first place.”
I thought of this quote recently while being subjected to a beer advertisement starring Ice Cube. Does he really believe he’s a bad-ass? That he’s still an intimidating figure?
Clearly the beer company did when they hired him. I can imagine all the suits at the marketing agency huddled around giggling to themselves as they decided to ask a former NWA member to pitch their beverage.
“We’re so edgy.”
But does Ice Cube?
Could he be that deluded?
If he does, I would hope someone close to him would sit down and explain to him that he’s just another puppet now. A minstrel that doesn’t require blackface.
He might as well go by the name Mike Cube. He can scowl and sneer and mangle the English language all he wants but everyone knows that when the director yelled cut he turned and said “How was that? Will that work for you? Should I talk more ghetto or was my performance adequate in conveying to the audience just how credible your product is to the target urban demographic?”
What is it about rebellion that it becomes so easily bought off? It’s embarrassing. Emotions like outrage always seem so sincere when you first come across them but it only takes a few dollars to have them evaporate… I was going to compare outrage evaporating like some other thing evaporating but I realize I was only going there because I started off with a Dennis Miller quote and now every time I start a new sentence I hear him saying it in my head. If this is in itself an example of how something genuinely annoying turns into something derivative let me be the first to confess it was completely unintentional.
That’s why I don’t read much. I know that it’s commonplace for writers to be influenced by the work of others but I’m not good enough not to just come right out and rip off the style or timbre of whomever I’m reading. My typical subject matter is usually dumb, but it’s all mine.
What does this have to do with Ice Cube?
I’m not sure yet but it will occur to me soon enough.
The truth is, for years I forgot perhaps the most influential book I ever read. I was always quick to point out such literary dignitaries as P.G. Wodehouse, P.J. O’Rourke, and Dave Barry but for some reason I completely forgot the one book I read when I was young that began the whole weird short story thing for me; Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin.
As soon as I remembered it, I felt this sudden flood of joy at pinpointing what started the ball rolling. All the dumb stuff wrapped up in all the true stuff I needed to get out of my head. A “get out of jail free card” for every thought scribbled down from that point on.
Now I do not doubt for a second that there was a time Ice Cube probably meant some of the stuff pouring out of his empty head as he and his pals attempted to get straight out of Compton. I’m sure he did. The anger was real.
But that’s all it was. Once the first bottle of Cristal was delivered to his table, it faded as fast and furious as it came. All that talk of guns and gangs and bitches was just that- talk.
Now he pitches beer for money. Who’s the bitch now?
But Steve Martin…
He was subversive. And today, he’s still subversive. Could it be that a fake arrow through the head could make a more substantial impact on the population than the profane rantings of a bunch of former hoodlums?
Ice Cube, by selling out, has made NWA a punch line. Another product.
What about Dennis Miller? He had his share of obscene rantings and yet he tried to remain subversive. A bit tough on the FOX News Channel huh Dennis?
So what’s the point of all this?
That money, fame, and chicks have the power to corrupt everything. The only thing that has the power to really change the system is the kind of stuff that lurks in plain sight.
Stupid and original and wonderful and powerless and you just keep thinking they’re powerless, until enough people have heard them.
A pair of black and white pumps; both are left feet; one has a right angle turn with separate compartments that point the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe is six inches long and is curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades holding the foot in place.
These are the kind of shoes that will survive. Worn by survivors.
Not sold by Nike or Adidas. Not available at the mall. Not pimped by frauds like Ice Cube.
The cruel shoes.