She described a fan’s family, undocumented immigrants from Honduras, sleeping in their front room so she and her band could crash on their beds, and she described herself wondering: “Is this fair?” In the morning, she was told in broken English how much her music meant to the daughter who invited her, and thanked for coming, and she decided: Yes, this is fair.
I have sympathy for this argument, because the exchange she’s talking about really does get lost when we talk about the economics of art; we focus on material questions of who should pay for what, and often act as though the attention and approval artists get from us is a bigger gift than the world full of art we get from them. However: Palmer’s logic here is itself generally identical to cold, hard free-market capitalism. Yes, the exchange she’s describing is “fair” — everyone involved is willing and happy to engage in it. It’s also “fair” to pay someone minimum wage for work that makes you millions, and fair for a male musician to spend every night having sex with starstruck, consenting young fans, but fairness is not the same thing as nobility, and neither of those arrangements is something you’d present as a revolutionary new relationship.
“More important than happiness to Nietzsche is nobility: “that one leaves happiness to the great majority”, “that one instinctively seeks heavy responsibilities”, “that one constantly contradicts the great majority not through words but through deeds” (Nietzsche 1967, §944). Certainly such a creative soul and higher man suffers, and it is better to pity his suffering than that of the average man (Nietzsche 1886a, §225); but better yet is the attitude that Zarathustra expresses at the end of his book: “My suffering and my pity for suffering — what does it matter? Am I concerned with happiness? I am concerned with my work.” (Nietzsche 1883, 439)”
the 1998 lilith fair tour was my first concert. my uncle who was really into metallica and ac/dc went with me because my mom had to work. we drove there in his pickup, which was completely kitted out with tire flaps and floor mats emblazoned with images of the looney tunes character taz. he basically left me to my own devices once we got there, and after i found him again at the end of the show he joked that he’d been wandering around trying to hit on girls the entire time, but couldn’t find any that were attracted to men.
there was no fiona on the 1998 lineup, at the show i went to i think the performances i saw were angelique kidjo, the wild strawberries, diana krall, lisa loeb, paula cole, and sarah. i do not write out sarah mclachlan’s entire name because i was/am a sarah mclachlan superfan who at this time in my life maintained a sarah mclachlan fan site which featured error-ridden transcriptions of the lyrics to all of the songs on all of the albums of hers i owned that i had done myself by listening to the songs over and over and writing out what i thought she was saying. the transcriptions were accompanied by long, heartfelt interpretations i wrote explaining what i thought the songs were about. i even did this for the cover songs on the “rarities, b-sides, and other stuff” compilation, which i did not know were covers, because i was like 13 and the internet had literally just happened and i don’t think i knew any adult people who had ever intentionally listened to XTC or joni mitchell or peter gabriel.
i remember walking away from the venue and spotting a guy selling cans of soda and buying a can of lipton brisk iced tea and swallowing the entire thing in one gulp because my throat was dry and hoarse from loudly singing along with every song that sarah mclachlan performed during her set except for “what’s going on”, the marvin gaye cover that the festival’s entire lineup gathered onstage to perform during the all-star jam session during the final encore, because i had no idea who marvin gaye was and had never heard that song before
the feeling that i was feeling while i was walking by myself away from the show was like half mono no aware and half the weird feeling i felt the year before when i went to a star trek convention and saw william shatner and leonard nimoy tell stories from behind the scenes with my friend kurt and his mom who was my french teacher in grade 5. like the fledgling realization that out in the world outside of the tiny towns i grew up in there were a lot of people who were nominally interested in the same things i was interested in and that one day i would regularly leave my house and be around them without being under the supervision of a parent or teacher and that my life would eventually be more about the things i liked and was passionate about and not so much about the things that society and the ministry of education had decided that all children’s lives should mostly be about
fairly soon after that my family moved into an extremely remote part of oregon and i missed a year of school and by the time i had clawed my way back to something resembling civilization i was like 16 and all anyone wanted to do was drink or smoke shitty weed or pierce things or enter into violently awkward sexual situations hidden behind ten layers of malfunctioning defense mechanisms and mounting emotional baggage
it was still years before i ever had what felt like a real conversation with anyone and even more years beyond that before i could even remember the way i thought the world looked at thunderbird stadium in 1998
Two weeks ago, a speaker at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers voiced a need to teach pupils about the dangers of internet porn. A few days later, deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz announced the launch of new research to find out if boys understood the meaning of girls consenting to sex after another report found that 100% of 14-year-old boys in one school had accessed porn on the web, and that 50% of girls had seen it, too – usually at the boys’ behest.
I might dismiss this as scaremongering if I didn’t know that my mother retired from a long and varied career in community sexual health three years ago, just as her colleagues who went into schools started reporting a rise in STD outbreaks concomitant in the rise of boys coaxing (cajoling, bullying, forcing – draw the line where you will) girls to service the lot of them in turn so they could film it on their phones.
And I might still hope there was more smoke than fire if I hadn’t been told a story by a friend about teaching sex ed classes in a big west London comprehensive – for which the otherwise mixed school was separated into gender groups; she took the girls. She was halfway through her planned lesson and ground to a halt when she saw a roomful of faces gazing blankly, where she had expected giggling and ribald commentary at least. She questioned them and then light dawned. “You do realise,” she said hesitantly, “that you’re supposed to enjoy it, don’t you?” Incredulity and a buzz of interest broke out. She threw away her lesson plan and they talked for the rest of the time about this new and fascinating idea. Then she came home and cried.
this is an english language cover of “pon pon pon” by kyary pamyu pamyu, one of many english language cover versions of the song that exist on youtube. this one is interesting because it’s more strident than most other translations in it’s attempts to communicate the basic sentiment of the song through natural-sounding, easily understandable english - many of the other ones come off more garbled and google translate-y.
in the 1990s, faye wong had some success recording versions of alternative-y english language songs like “dreams” by the cranberries and “silent all these years” by tori amos that she translated herself into different chinese dialects. her interest in and skill in translating the lyrics of this music eventually led to “restless”, an album-length collaboration with members of one of her favorite groups, the cocteau twins. faye wong’s forays into translating pop songs from one language to another are unique in that she was a rare example of an individual who had all of the skillsets necessary to do it properly: an understanding of the languages involved deep enough to fully grasp the sentiment being expressed, a gift for songwriting strong enough to allow her to find a way to craft new lyrics in a different language that would express that sentiment fully, and the natural singing ability and charisma to sell the performance on the same level as the song’s original creators. there’s nothing academic or sterile about her reading of “dreams” - her vocal stands up to the original in every respect, somehow invoking china just as clearly as the cranberries version echoes ireland. wong expertly locates the beating heart of the source material and guides it through the craggy labyrinth of dead ends and potential pitfalls that separates her pop culture from the cranberries’ so deftly that it almost looks easy. a cursory perusal of the myriad english “pon pon pon” covers will quickly remind you how difficult it actually must have been.
absent a miraculous, prodigious talent like wong’s, the task of creating a perfect or near-perfect translation like the ones she was able to craft is probably too great for one person to ever accomplish alone. too many planets need to perfectly align themselves, too many moving parts need to be brought in line with one another. it’s hard enough just to create a great pop song in the first place, it would be impossible to reverse engineer it and recreate it for a different cultural landscape without losing something crucial along the way. the creative process is too human, too unknowable
but i mean then there’s vocaloid - the software behind virtual pop star hatsune miku, which can allow a producer to create increasingly convincingly human-like vocal performances on a computer. vocaloid is currently much better suited for the phonetic sounds that make up the japanese language than for english, but people are constantly working to correct that problem and create multi-lingual vocaloid modules. at some point maybe software like this will make it possible to sell multiple versions of the exact same song by the exact same (virtual) performer in multiple different languages. maybe record companies will, in the future, employ a cadre of translators tasked with transposing the essential appeal of pop smashes onto languages and cultural landscapes vastly different from the ones they were initially created within.
vocaloid modules like hatsune miku are modelled on recordings of existing human voices - miku herself is modelled on samples of the voice of actress saki fujita. theoretically, couldn’t britney spears go into a studio and record the source material necessary for software developers to create a convincing britney spears vocaloid? could this software not then be used to create convincing performances of her songs in other language to be marketed worldwide? at coachella last year, the people behind the tupac hologram were able to make it sound like tupac himself was shouting out the name of a festival that didn’t exist until several years after his murder - in the case of heavily recorded deceased performers like him, or like elvis presley, or like bob marley, could the volume of recordings of these performers’ voices be used to create vocaloid programs capable of generating new speech and vocals that sound like they were spoken or sung by the performers themselves? could the entire elvis catalog be translated into multiple languages and performed by an elvis vocaloid? could holographic virtual elvises be belting out mandarin versions of “blue suede shoes” in clubs in beijing within our lifetime? will libraries of english-language translations of music written in other languages? will all english-language popular music soon be available to the rest of the world to hear in their own languages?
after reading it, i unfollowed her and made an angry tweet about unfollowing her because i felt sort of embarrassed for riding super hard for her project as much as i have. when i first heard her music it was in the context of the initial rush of press around justin bieber or okay cupid or whatever it was and the tone of the coverage was like “HAHA NEW CRAZY NOVELTY RAPPER” and “NEXT KREAYSHAWN?” and i really felt like it deserved to be taken seriously and that people were really unfairly not taking it seriously because she was a teenage girl talking about teenage girl stuff and the critical orthodoxy is generally pretty unfairly dismissive of teenage girls
but that was a long time ago and a lot of stuff has happened between now and then and today a thing happened where she made a tweet that suggested that men who think it is okay to sexually assault women are less deserving of our collective ire and attention than women who whine when men rape them
when i saw this tweet i did not know that it apparently ties into an article she wrote that got posted today on vice, i have not read this article because it’s on fucking vice and i don’t really feel like it is a good idea for anyone ever to get in the habit of looking at articles on vice to learn about people’s feelings about rape
she has since deleted this tweet and i am mainly just posting it to clear up what my issue is and just like
if you guys are still into her thing and are getting something out of it that is awesome and i do not mean to try to condescendingly tell you that you should not like her thing but i just can’t, you know?