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Anderson Cooper in Congo

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Typical CamWhore

Popular among marketing executives who’ve reached that point in their career where the cocaine and booze can no longer create the necessary plasticity to do their jobs is having adults attempt to use hip-hop slang. This lazy tactic started in the 80’s and quickly spread through pop-culture sending titters through middle America and your parents. It should have died out and never been reborn but, because the gene pools have been diluted beyond repair, the hilarious grey-haired matron talking jive to the kids returns time and time again to sell you cell phones or Sunny Delight or whatever the fuck people buy. “Hahahahah! How clueless is she, that retard, trying to talk slang like she’s down?” thinks shiny happy white people holding remotes.

These commercials always, without fail, cause extreme embarrassment for me. I don’t know why, I’ve never done the market research to unearth what deep-rooted trauma lurks in my past to cause such discomfort when some nameless day-actress says something like “keep it on the DL” on national television. Okay, my mother has probably humiliated me in this fashion but I can’t think of a specific instance except for one wonderful Thanksgiving where she was conversing with a younger cousin and it popped out onto the table and began infesting the Turkey with tapeworm. She wonders why I always loved working holidays.

Well, perhaps my horror at witnessing these displays of out of touch adults is an issue of empathy. I don’t understand many of the popular trends currently corrupting society as a whole and the greatest wormhole of confusion can be found here on the internet. The very fact that within a short period of time computers went from being something that, if you knew how to turn one on, could get you physically attacked and verbally ridiculed to being an indispensable daily asset baffles me; I distinctly recall them as being a very uncool thing that labeled users as insufferable nerds and caused my dad to think I was gay. Now he knows about youtube and rappers have websites and myspace pages. Myspace baffles me. I’ve seen people lurk on it for hours at a time, posting comments and trolling through profiles. There’s people who pimp other people’s myspace pages. This is making me feel very much like a clueless adult.

But the truth depths of modern perversion were, until quite recently, hidden from me. I thought that myspace was the ultimate in hyperactive media saturation until livejournal came into view. Message boards have changed significantly from the times of BBSs, although fundamentally they remain populated by geeky recluses who know that appearing at the local mall will elicit mockery and death by being pelted with pennies or small, hard candies. Yet they’re sleek and snazzy and in color with pictures and wobbling icons and, most horrifying, their own slang. In a way it’s a natural evolution of shorthand. You’re typing and you’re excited about the exchange– you need to relate the thoughts bursting from your head as quickly as possible. OMG has been with us for a long time and most of the western world can understand the implications. Kewl has, blessedly, disappeared entirely from usage.

It goes beyond a simple matter of slang, tho. There’s an entire generation coming up that has successfully integrated the internet into their mannerisms and interests and, unfortunately, their lives. A perfect symbiosis has occurred and millions of little wingnuts the world over have been fucking sold on the concept. Little shits posting video diaries of themselves on youtube capture the attention of nations while disaster, fire and brimstone reign supreme unnoticed. There’s a level of humour solely dedicated to online chat and postings. There’s memes. Imagine being airlifted from your safe hovel where you can walk through the room with no light and not bang your knee and being dropped in the middle of a Krystal Meyers concert. Then replace everyone with computers and give them programs designed to allow their unabashed inflation of personality present itself in technicolor with streaming video and audio.

Fortunately there’s an oasis out there where you can kick back for a spell and follow the links, absorbing the terms and cultural fads which populate this hinterlands we’ve created. Last week at work we were busy speculating as to what this new room across the hall was being used for. Actually, those of us who’ve not been in a coma or terminally stupid know exactly what is going on in there but we were speculating all the same. When they first began using it I taped a picture of an alien autopsy on the window which had, for the sake of privacy, been spray-painted opaque. This did not suffice. They’re growing pot in there, someone said. What is this, the 20’s? It must be something sinister. Someone brought up the fact that all employees in the new room must sign confidentiality waivers. This same someone also invoked the memory of a former owner/manager who had been bought out and removed after incurring repeated accusations of sexual harassment and general leering creepiness, suggesting they were being brought back into the fold to run this new top secret department. That’s right, my friends, they’ve put a production studio in at Amoeba and they’ve begun producing and streaming child porn.

We needed to do something about it. Posters, we must make posters and cover their door and its opaque window with evidence of our knowledge. But how do you communicate child porn besides writing on a piece of paper, “We make child porn in here”? Why, you find pictures of pedobear on the internet.

Pedobear

WTF? Pedobear is a pedophile bear that crawls through the internet in search of lolis. Pedobear is an unstoppable force lurking in online forums and virtual worlds hunting for underaged girls. Pedobear can be seen on youtube dancing with bananas. Pedobear became the poster child for the new room across the hall from us. I fired the first salvo finding a suitable image and scribbling a clever caption

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underneath and taping the shit out of it all over their door. Some prissy fucktard tore it down. I found a more disturbing image and someone devised an even more clever caption which I taped the shit out of all over their door. Some prissy fucktard tore that down too. Someone realized we had a lot of label paper on hand and soon were were populating whatever surfaced were handy with pedobear stickers. The denizens across the hall tried to fight back by taking our own posters and sticking them on our own door. We were not amused but responded by more posters, more stickers, more clever captions. We totally pwnd them, is what I’m saying.

Yet where did pedobear creep in to our collective consciousness and begin to fondle us inappropriately? Our source material came from The Encyclopedia Dramatica. As the Onion is the cool-kids lampoon of American news, politics and

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general going-ons ED is the internet’s bastion of in-jokes, snideness and being horribly offensive for the lulz. It’s toilet humor for people that are smart enough to see the joke in the fuck you but geeky enough to appreciate painstakingly photoshopped pictures of cartoon bears and young girls. It completely consumed our entire Thursday and left everyone following each random link lustily, laughing hysterically and calling one another to our computers. Friday saw a resurgence of fascination as well as a continued assault on the neighbors. It also saw someone figuring out that you can have animated gifs as your desktop’s background. It’s the perfect distraction for whiling away the idle hours at work, it’s horribly addictive and it may be the greatest summation of today’s internet culture that has been pointed out to me.

Lulz

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When did heroin chic begin? In the early 70s with the gaunt, affected expressions of New York and London waifs? Or was it Kate Moss’ pointy shoulders and Nan Goldin’s photographs in the late 80s? I would guess that heroin chic has always been about, just never labeled. Whatever, Terry Richardson exploited our naive fascination with sleaze by photographing drugged up nymphs and getting hired by

Gucci. The mid nineties sucked. The noughties sucked. Today sucks. Our society loves nothing more than a starved wench to gawp at. Regardless, when marketing got hold of it, it really got dirty, deplorably dirty. It got the magazine gloss treatment – nothing short of an abomination, and Nan Goldin agrees. The phrase has now passed into our vernacular and out our arses. No shock. It doesn’t even register. Why don’t we give a shit about substances and conditions that send humans to rack, ruin, and flaky organs? Why are we so eager to sweep the dirt and the decay of humanity into our mainstream media? I am concerned about tweenager mags here, not vice magazine. I came to think of this because I came upon Dionisio Gonzalez’ work. I’ve never seen constructions like his before. I refer to it as Shanty-Chic, well aware of the unstomachable connotations the label might conjure and the gross misunderstandings it may unleash. Needless to say, this is art – heavily photoshopped art – and not yet usurped by the ravenous ad agencies. It’s good art, not shit art.

ShantyChic

Dionisio is renowned in Europe and particularly his native Spain, but he hasn’t made it past the Chelsea galleries stateside. He has an impressive track history of exhibitions and collaborative activities, and spent months compiling his Favelas project back in 2003. Dionisio has the ability to manufacture the ludicrous in his modernist shanty without really jarring the viewer. This is as much an indictment of our lack of shock and egregious consumption of fake-image as it is a celebration of his visionary approach. Nonetheless, these are structures not skeletons. He and we are looking at wrecked buildings, not wrecked humans. The dilapidated facades mixed with corporate green-tinted glazing tells us its all

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false. We are not being sold an idea here, or even a pair of boxer briefs. We are being asked to look at a fiction that is depressingly plausible. Does Dionisio want us to reconcile the ingenuity of man with the wastefulness of man? The technicolour largess of these false favelas is made all the more galling because they stand below blue skies. The last time I saw a pristine sapphire sky like that was in an Indonesia Airlines advertisement. It is rare I see something new that I return to again and again, and I’ve been meaning to post about Dionisio for six months. Or maybe I just want to make this humble note before Shanty-Chic becomes a common expression amongst unscrupulous creative directors.

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