REVIEW: “Seduction of the Armageddon Witches, directed by Diego Barrera”
If the video for Mater Suspiria Vision’s “Seduction of the Armageddon Witches” isn’t a telling indictment of the ‘witch house’ scene, I don’t know what is. Taking its aesthetic cues (and proudly) from the likes of Matthew Barney, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and the Italian horror filmmakers of the 1970’s, this video is a mess of impenetrable “symbolism” and non-sequitur imagery that is essentially a Salem-fanatic’s Tumblr page brought to life.
Director Diego Barrera grasps for the kind of esoteric stew approach of Jodorowsky’s “Holy Mountain”, making up for lack of a true theme with odds-and-sods “mystical” happenings from behind a Vaseline-smeared lense. What does the apple allude to? Adam and Eve? Snow White? A good place to leave one’s crystals? The Christ figure in the cellophane-covered tub? The deathly pale girl with (what else?) long black hair clutching the one eyed pyramid at the video’s start? What does it all mean? Well, what has the eye atop a pyramid or lazy occult imagery ever meant? It is pleasing to the eye and “foreboding”/”trippy”, but without any sort of a point beyond looking “cool”.
Barrera has succeeded in creating a music video as disposable and haphazardly conceived as the “witch house” movement itself, memorable only for how laughably portentous and derivative it succeeds in being. Barney and Jodorowsky might very well be cases of style over substance, but at least they can lay claim to having possessed clarity of vision and at least an iota of originality. What we have with “Seduction of the Armageddon Witches” is essentially a three-and-a-half minute distillation of these folk’s actual art (whatever it’s merit) into an aimless, seemingly endless paean to the death of creativity… Most all artistic forms have devolved so far into homage, amalgamation (install DJ Screw in a goth club and bind him there with slash marks=”new” genre), and utter disposability; everyone is entitled to their 15-seconds of Tumblr re-blogs before the Adderall-starved masses turn their attention to something even less original and substantive.
Far creepier than anything contained in this video is the notion that our culture is eating it’s own tail, and that future generations will likely while away their days trying to decide between listening to music that sounds like the pivotal records of our youth tossed into a blender (but groundbreakingly so!).. Or turning on the television to watch an episode of The Simpsons that is nothing but self-referential jabs at earlier Simpsons episodes…. Heading to the multiplex to catch the latest franchise reboot or horror-remake sequel… Or, as can be experienced by forking over 3:33 of your time to one Diego Barrera, sitting transfixed before the computer at a music video so vapid and free from the constraints of “meaning” that it retroactively imbues worlds of meaning to something as “heady” and “substantive” as “Ice, Ice Baby” or “Break Stuff”…
Exterminate All Irrational Discourse
You can delete me so it comes across that you won this argument, but ultimately, you may have won the battle- by default- but you’ve lost the war, big time. Your life is going to be a soggy Scotch fart into the tighty-whities of deserved obscurity. You lack talent, taste, and ev en an iota of originality. I take solace in the fact that I won’t again have to see your face peering out at me from my Friend Requests, puppy dog eyes begging for validation. When you post other artists and musicians images or music in lieu of your own original thoughts, I hope those ‘likes’ from your Tumblr friends strokes your ego ever-so-slightly enough to put a spring in your step and make sure all those hours scouring the web for how to be ‘hip’ (not in the Sugarhill Gang, sense, Mr. Let’s-lighten-the-mood) were not in vain…
Calling ME a fucking hipster? You have got to be fucking kidding me- this coming from the guy whose every video post and band t-shirt is hip music blog approved, the person who lives and breathes pieces of other people’s cultural contributions via Facebook and Tumblr hoping and praying that someone will award him one-tenth of the praise these genuine (if often only marginally so) artists? The guy who routinely re-adds me when I delete his annoying, tries-too-hard ass? As much as I loathe Bukowski as an artist and unintentional role model to generations of directionless youth such as yourself, I must say- the guy would have chewed you up, swallowed you deep within his ulcerated bowls, and shat you next to a pile of the quirky clutter that adorns your room (somewhere between the crust band t-shirt pile and the Manson clipping, or maybe the Peni sketch and FYF Fest poster?). Your tumblr is titled “Exterminate All Rational Thought”, taking a page from Burroughs. But wheras Burroughs meant it in terms of thinking outside the box and living on instinct…on a primal, emotional level…I think you read that as “huff paint and reblog hip pictures on my Tumblr, more followers, yes, someone reblogged the song I posted, fuck yes, I AM cool after all!” For someone who made a big point of posting a Bukowski quote about finding solace and strength in being an autonomous individual, it sure seems you rely an awful lot on the ‘likes’ and ‘reblogs’ of anonymous people from behind your computer screen to get by.. you fucking rapist… (click picture below to see irrational discourse):
Peruvian Politics As Usual
Fujimorism did a lot of good at the time, all but eliminating the threat of terrorism/communist insurgence, but ultimately what it also succeeded in doing was driving the far-left further underground while throwing many innocent people in jail- something that has not gone unrecognized by many Peruvians, regardless of idealogy. Thus, having Fujimori’s daughter on the ticket pretty much ensured a lot of votes for both centrist candidates and far more for Humala, as less-informed voters will always go for a “name” candidate over a centrist. If the conservative candidate had been someone less polarizing, Humala would likely have never stood a chance. As it stands, only time will tell if Peru will go the way of Venezuela or if Humala will be as ineffectual as most presidents.
Part III (The Decline of the Western (DIY) Civilization)
Once upon a time… I felt at home in the L.A. D.I.Y. art/music scene. There existed a spirit of energy and excitement, and it was through this scene that I felt the strongest affirmation of my talents and gained the confidence to realize my art as a true calling. It was a time fraught with possibility and leaving in the midst of it was one of the hardest things I had done in my life up to that point. And unfortunately, the old adage “you can’t go home again” has proven to be utterly correct. I left when the scene was just about to stumble into an awkward adolescence, and I’ve returned to witness it’s death knell. Everything that could have gone wrong has.
In terms of music, the bands that got label deals left for greener pastures and blander music while everyone else has split into separate camps of ever-diminishing returns. The same groups of friends either standing with their arms crossed (in the case of the “noisier” element) or drunkenly knocking over equipment and bongs (all other elements), with the only “fresh” blood into the scene being stale retreads of previous scene stalwarts or the kind of accessible “indie” crap that would never have lasted a second in 2006 or 2007. Worse yet are the only bona fide success story of the whole bunch- the “D.I.Y.” label Not Not Fun and their merry band of Hollywood Hippies, who can afford to “slum it” aesthetically while hitching their six bathroom, palatial trailer to whatever trendy “lo-fi” bit of post-Pink (Ariel, that is) blows through town.
As a visual artist, it is even more aggravating. All of the worst stereotypes about L.A. are true, even in an art scene that positions itself as counter-culture. There is a dearth of GENUINE talent. Everyone is an “artist”, so long as they have a friend who is an “artist”, who has a friend that works the door at a venue or is friends with a promoter. Genuine talent gets lost amid a sea of uninspired “art” that is more the result of nepotism and/or needing a reason to justify flunking out of community college classes than it is any passion to create or artistic vision. Not to mention those who simply superglue together a few pictorals from an old stack of National Geographics as a tape cover and are all the sudden worthy of mention in mainstream music periodicals and seemingly respectable art journals…
And the irony that was kind of present in certain corners of L.A. since the beginning- a soundguy blaring nu-metal and Top 40 hits, for example- something that was only “haha” funny to begin with, mixed with a visual component that is drenched in the pop culture allusion heavy style that Paper Rad was doing ten fucking years ago, has succeeded in making much of the L.A. D.I.Y. scene a hideous funhouse reflection of it’s former self. The inspiration is gone, the performers and artists are making their last grabs at trying to make something out it all before going back to school or moms’ and dads’ couches, and all that’s left is the steady thump of whatever emo-pop-club smash or Top-40 rap hit a floor full of clueless teenagers and supposedly “edgy” “artists” are singing along to, while in others parts of town the people who once made discordant, liberating racket have traded it all in for cosmic synth noodling and “drone” and lawyers’ children try to figure out the best way to make something recorded in a home studio sound like it was recorded on a boombox inside of a broken refrigerator.
While I appreciate what this scene did for me when I was just started out, I feel in no way indebted to the point that I would tie myself to the bow of a sinking ship. The difference between the scene in L.A. and other scenes, to my eye, is both a matter of quality control and some degree of stereotypical So Cal attitudes (from the laid back stoner vibe to those who are ceaselessly shallow, wanting to be seen or recognized without contributing anything deserving of recognition), and I finally fully understand the attitude of many touring artists I encountered over the years when they would sneeringly dismiss L.A. as one of their least favorite stops on tour and long for home. Part of me longs for a time when this scene really transcended all that, where it seemed bound for something better, but alas, that sense of excitement was firmly rooted in a certain time and place. Nothing lasts forever, I guess.
That said, I don’t see this as diminishing my art to any degree. If anything, I feel freed from the chains of obligation, and would much rather publish my own stuff, say, in zine form and work in seclusion than wear a shawl and get mystical tattoos on my ankles using vegan ink and brag to major magazines about hand-crafting the covers of records I put out (isn’t that the fucking point of an “independent” label?)… Or, alternately, paint Garfield vomiting a Ninja Turtle onto Miley Cyrus for people to briefly glance at (as a Top-40 pop track overlaid with “Seinfeld” bass and Tim Allen grunts blares in the background, no less) before returning to the parking lot to pound forties and bum cigarettes and avoid the advances of a bellowing, bellicose Karen Centerfold… No, I’d much rather my art be free of such associations, to an audience that actually seeks it out versus using it as an excuse to get wasted and socialize and feel like “artists” or whatever it is that motivates these people.
Part II (Portrait of a Non Artist)
I understand people like her. They-ve grown up with this notion of the artist as enigma, the artist as being summoned to action by a divine calling, the artist as celebrity. When they initially become part of an artistic scene, they look at the artists, writers and musicians the scene is composed of and don’t see people expressing themselves using their talents. They simply see the accolades, the attention, the (in her sad mind) position of “power” these people are capable of garnering, and for this, want to forsake the duties of stamping hands at a venue for feeling a similar degree of…what? Truly belonging to a scene beyond the capacity of helping out? To be recognized? There is much to be said for those who help out in a scene in the less creative aspects- venue owners, curators, and volunteers are all instrumental in facilitating a scene, and should be recognized for their contributions. But simply contributing does not an artist or musician make. She can come up with a snappy banner under which to promote the shows you book or the zines you publish, but shouldn’t feel entitled to the same kind of attention as a musician or an artist.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (perhaps not the best example as he did produce some quality poetry of his own) is widely regarded for what his City Lights Books did in furthering the Beat Generation and the writings of authors like Henry Miller, but is very rarely mentioned in the same breath as these people in terms of the scope or influence of his work. A great man, deserving of esteem, but not deserving of the entitled attitude of the stereotypical artist. To clarify- an artist or musician need not be temperamental or expect that others bow before them, but this attitude DOES exist, and can sometimes be forgiven (and more often than not is just expected) IF they make art or music powerful enough for a shitty attitude to be overlooked. But to not produce any art or music of your own and to cop that kind of attitude? That is beneath contempt, and completely without precedent. Only in a day and age where “re-blogging” a Tumblr entry is considered creative and more and more kids are more likely to know how to play “Stairway to Heaven” on Guitar Hero than on an actual guitar can we expect to see morons of this ilk.. We live in an age of shortcuts. Certain people want to be able to act like stuck up cunts and cruise from couch to couch without ever actually finding a job simply on account of being a “creative type” versus someone who actually creates. Affecting the pose of a “starving artist” while only promoting OTHERS’ art, and not even out of a genuine love for it, but to further herself! Having a residency at some godforsaken hole in the wall restaurant where she will have shows a few hours before a nearby venue that has actual draw, hoping to lure in the few folk who arrive too early with a poorly selected roster of bands you’ll book sound unheard just to fill up space? And then walking around as if her shit doesn’t stink, expecting the world from others because of it? Sounds like Lots of CRAP if you ask me.
In an ideal world, everyone, talented artist and no-talent hanger on alike, would be humble. Or at the very least, the talented artist might FEEL superior, but keep it to him or herself. But for some inconsiderate, shit-talking, territorial BITCH to feel superior to ANYONE (and accordingly, be rude and STEAL from supposed “friends”) for simply slapping her name atop something either someone else has written in a poorly laid out zine or scrawling it atop a show obnoxiously promoted via Facebook and text message attended by two ex-band members and a mom with a camcorder is a FUCKING JOKE and a symptom of so much of what is disillusioning in a certain current DIY music/art scene that is currently tapering off into a retarded cult of personality with ever diminishing returns…