Kanye West – Reanimator

 

The waiting was gruesome, but Kanye never faltered. Every now and then he applied his ear to the chest of the specimen, and bore the negative results in typical Kanye fashion: by throwing a non-sequitur rant. He’d wax hyperbolic about breadth and width of his art, claiming that it couldn’t be contained by mere genre conventions like “life.”

Growing up in a Dutch suburbia, which to friends, acquaintances, and the occasional individual in the pub I often refer to as “The Whitest Place on Earth”, my fascination for Kanye West was only inevitable. As far as our similarities go, we both studied English and once rewarded ourselves with pet fishes for a major achievement. At the age of seven I bought a gold fish with my pocket money after I got my swimming diploma; Kanye purchased an 18th century aquarium with 30 koi fish after the successes of College Dropout (2004). Both well-deserved rewards I would say, but undoubtedly my fascination is more based on the allure of otherness than on the comfort of familiarity. And so I have no illusions that my attraction to the Other is any better than a white baggy trousered teenage boy shouting “Fuck the Police!” from his new housing estate bedroom or any other instance in which black culture becomes, as bell hooks puts it, “a seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture”[1]. Not wishing to participate in this white escapism, my affairs with Kanye are strictly private and rarely find their way past my own ivory white bedroom door. Instead, I indulge in his music the way I experience a Thomas Pynchon novel: from a respectable and self-aware distance but engaged enough to be overwhelmed by the sheer genius of it all. Continue reading “Kanye West – Reanimator”

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A Je To! Or Doing and Subverting Communism with Pat and Mat

 

Armed with hammer, screwdriver, and inexhaustible optimism, Pat and Mat have been taking on the world for over 40 years. In those years their world changed drastically;  born during the dark days of communist Czechoslovakia, they witnessed the Velvet Revolution, watched the Iron curtain fall, and saw their country being split into two. Yet nothing could deter the two Czechoslovak handymen from spending their days DIY-ing around their house like they did in the communist years. How did these two men steal the hearts of both the communist Czechoslovak and neoliberal capitalist viewer? Continue reading “A Je To! Or Doing and Subverting Communism with Pat and Mat”

Ode to the Pimple

 

It was a cold February morning when I was on my way to Amsterdam from Haarlem station. Like any other person commuting by train, I normally keep my business to myself but this time I was distracted by the guy sitting in front of me. It was a Spanish tourist who was browsing through his Hollandia guidebook and occasionally folded the corner of the page that seemed to interest him. At first I didn’t notice it but, when he turned his head to the window, admiring the mist hanging over the gloomy Dutch polder landscape, there it was; a blackhead, proudly sticking out on the edge of his olive skin chin. When he caught me staring at him, I resumed reading A Picture of Dorian Grey but all I could think about was “Was that a hair I saw growing out? When is he going to pop it? Or is he going to ask someone else to do it? If so, who is the lucky bastard that gets to see what comes out?” Continue reading “Ode to the Pimple”

T2 Trainspotting

 

Choose to make a highly anticipated sequel to a 20 year old movie. Choose to ignore the cynicism surrounding remakes, follow-ups, and other so-called money-draining exploitations of an initial “good movie”. Choose nostalgia. Choose letting an entire generation reach for the last lingering strings of their youth. Choose to accept some meagre compliments and face the bile from the rest who tell you it was complete shite. Choose life.

The long-awaited (and at the same time dreaded) sequel to Trainspotting must have felt like a millstone to director Danny Boyle, who was allegedly plagued by a hushed “it’d better not be shite” even on set from the cast and crew. Fearing the Sequel Curse, for many critics and fans of the franchise, waiting for the release of T2 Trainspotting was like waiting for a bomb to explode that would completely destroy the cult franchise. Continue reading “T2 Trainspotting”

I Feel Therefore I Am: Wes Anderson, Donald Trump, and New Sincerity

 

Let’s talk about Wes Anderson’s H&M Christmas ad and Donald Trump because the two may have more in common than you might think.

The Christmas ad shows a train struck by bad winter weather which means that the passengers will unfortunately not be able to get home for the holidays. As luck would have it, train conductor Ralph (Adrien Brody) has a few tricks up his sleeve and manages to literally scoop up a few Christmas decorations from passing train stations to create a small Christmas brunch. After all the passengers left their coaches for the brunch, a small boy shyly walks to the dining coach to find a small gathering of people and a modestly decorated Christmas tree. As the passengers gather around the tree drinking their hot cocoa, the ad finishes with the text “Come Together”. Continue reading “I Feel Therefore I Am: Wes Anderson, Donald Trump, and New Sincerity”

“That Gum You Like is Going To Come Back in Style”: The Revival of Twin Peaks and the Uncanny

 

Next year, one of the creepiest murder-mystery TV series Twin Peaks will return for a new season. Being over 25 years old, the show is a true cult classic and has been subject to many tributes and references from various other famous TV-shows like The Simpsons and Adventure Time. Last summer I watched the first two seasons, and at times, when I lay wide awake in bed, paralysed by the sheer creepiness of it all, hoping that when I opened my eyes I wouldn’t come face to face with a grey-haired maniac in denim that was staring at me from beside my bed, I really wish I didn’t because it is genuinely the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. Continue reading ““That Gum You Like is Going To Come Back in Style”: The Revival of Twin Peaks and the Uncanny”

*Stares into the Camera*: On The “Jim Look” and The Age of Irony

A few weeks ago I was at a housewarming, and while using a phallic-shaped bottle opener to remove the cap from my beer because it was, regrettably, the only one available, some guy said “I can see you thinking; this one is slightly smaller than what I am used to”. Because I didn’t want to make the situation any more awkward than it already was, I laughed, trying to mute the discomfort that echoed through the kitchen. Yet it was not enough. I could still feel a cringe starting to work its way up my spine. So I did what I would normally do when the uncomfortableness can’t be laughed away: I picked a spot on the wall opposite of me and stared at it, pretending to look straight into the camera as if I were on The Office. It’s not that I like to flatter myself thinking that my life is being documented in a The Truman Show-like way[1], but at moments like these I find that the only way to properly deal with the sheer awkwardness of daily life is by reaching out to an imaginary audience. This is not just a personal quirk but symptomatic for the internet-driven chaotic experiences of modern life. From Modern Family to Parks and Recreation, the look into the camera assumes a stance that reflects contemporary tendencies to fluctuate between seriousness and the remains of the 90s-like postmodern irony.

Continue reading “*Stares into the Camera*: On The “Jim Look” and The Age of Irony”