You know, I used to be super judgmental about people who have made the choice to pursue fame as a career, or fame as a big part of their career. No longer. Gone are the days of watching the industry leftovers and forgotten child stars okay with being edited as desperately desperate drama addicts on yet another reality TV show. Watching, and feeling dirty about it afterwards.
I think it helps that in the latest generation of fame-seekers there are clearly focused, driven and hardworking individuals with plenty of charisma, intelligence and talent. And in an era of cheap and superfluous fame, I find myself gunning for these peoples and hoping that they succeed.
Oh — and apologies for the 2 back-to-back non-Kogi/Chego posts. I’ve been working away at a Chego to-go how-to video for those who have, um… CHALLENGES when it comes to packing their rice bowls. It’s about done, but I still haven’t figured out how to get the frame and aspect ration correct. (As evidenced in my whatever/BoyzIIMen vid from a few weeks ago.) Figuring out new tools and toys can be an issue for someone like myself who relies a little too much on big ideas and immediate pragmatism. For example, I’ll assume I’ve got something figured out because it works out in my head, but when I get to actually working with a tool, I’ll find out that I have no idea how to operate it. Case in point: Adobe Premiere Elements. Another case in point: my Droid Razr Maxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
For the record, I really enjoy my intelligence phone and all that it does, but aside from how it can immediately serve my immediate needs, I really don’t spend too much time figuring out the breadth of all of its many features. It’s got a phenomenal battery life, it lets me create my own ringtones (sorry iPhone!) without extra fees or red tape (and notification and alarm noises!) and does all that other stuff that I do actually like and appreciate about its predecessor, the iPhone. And I know that it can do MORE, but I really can’t trouble myself to see what that “more” is.
But not studying most of the program’s features before creating a video doth gets me in a bit of a pickle sometimes and places limitations on how I want the finished product to look like.
Typical Alice response: Bah! I shall figure it out!
I DO have some itty bitty updates regarding menu changes. This week I’ll be tasting the new items, so I’mma take some pictures and keep y’all posted. Chego’s changes shall be sooner rather than later, with Kogi changes slated for October-ish.
Anyway, back to Semi Famous People I Want to See Famous:
Some may argue that he’s already famous — or, at the very least, a star in South Korea, and a worldwide phenom. Is Psy a worldwide pop cultural phenom? You know, I just might agree with that assessment. But there’s a difference between a worldwide phenom and a worldwide star.
1 mega super overnight brainsplosion Youtube hit sensation is, indeed, a phenomenon. But will it be something that Psy will be able to carry on into perpetuity? That remains to be seen.
What Psy DOES have going for him, and why it is that I’m rooting for him, is an admirable level of groundedness and self-awareness that comes from being moderately successful in the South Korean music industry for 12 years. Most one-hit wonders and overnight sensations that burn out after a year or two have that naivete working both for and (ultimately) against them. Being fresh and un-seasoned, they can get overwhelmed by the attention and swallowed whole. Granted, he’s never been on a stage this large before (having just been signed to Island Records), but I do hope he keeps a level head and works on his English.
His English is actually pretty good — but I think he just needs to get a little more comfortable to get to the level of being able to translate his personality and quick wittedness. Still, he’s a bit more quick on the uptake than the semi-rookie I blogged about in the past…
I still gun for this Korean chick from Jersey, but her persona onstage performing and her persona in English (self assured, confident, warm and sweetly optimistic) is jarringly different from her persona in Korean when she’s being interviewed (shy, immature, self conscious, insecure and cloyingly humble). Still, she’s come a long way from a pretty good singer on Youtube to a phenomenal vocalist with an onstage presence that crackles with star quality.
She’s currently(?) the rookie of this South Korean competition-based reality show called Immortal Song 2. I’m a little unclear on the concept, but from what I gather, two artists (usually highly-seasoned pop stars) are drawn at random and must battle it out with a song. Mind you, “battling it out” includes back up dancers, wind machines, confetti, fireworks and sometimes all of the above. Afterwards the audience votes for their favorite star.
With the amount of money and precision with which a lot of these numbers are performed, I wonder if these “contestants” are really truly drawn at random, but whatever. The performances you get are nothing short of amazing.
Here are 2 of my favorite Ailee performances. I know in the industry she’s just a rookie, but I hope her record label graces her with a good handful of hit songs to carry her career on into perpetuity. Why? Because she’s one of those people who’s got something unique about her. You look at her and know she’s more than just a singer.
Yeah, isn’t it interesting that there’s a Korean version of “Besame Mucho”?
It’s worth it to wait til 4:05 for this number. It was just a treat. She took an old classic and turned it into an all-out gospel-charged EVENT.
Keep in mind, she lost with both of these performances.
This girl, she’s got ambition.
Speaking of ambition… the next dude I’m rooting for is his dude named TODRICK HALL. Has anyone heard of him before? Apparently he made it onto American Idol, so that’s how most people are familiar with him. I don’t watch TV much, if at all, so the way I found out about him was through these Youtube recaps he does of Dance Moms Season 2. How I got into Dance Moms, I shall not get into, but his recaps are entertaining and hilarious. (It’s CRIMINAL that he took a pause in recapping. CRIMINAL. It’s almost worse than when CommunityChannel dried up in 2011 and slowly started to chug back into action in 2012. Shame on you, Natalie Tran, for getting a life outside of Youtube!) I thought he was just a funny, quick-witted dude who had an unusually great singing voice.
So here are the 2 videos that caught my heart by its sleeve. (Yes, my heart has sleeves.)
His 1st masterpiece:
You have no idea how much these videos tickle my inner academic. Brilliant! Brilliant, I say!
You know what’s interesting? I actually find “Cinderfella” just a shy more brilliant. Ironically enough, as a Youtube hit, it’s so much less successful than “Beauty and the Beat” because of one, itty bitty thing. And it’s funny, if Todrick had edited out this one, itty bitty you’ll-miss-it-if-you-blink thing without changing the content, he totally would have had a much more successful hit on his hands: “Legalize Love.” Not because his message is wrong, but because it attaches an agenda to what could have been a deeply personal, heartfelt experience for the viewer — and experience that may even eventually change or shift the way a person may or may not stand with Todrick’s issue. But I’ll get into that in a bit.
Let’s first start with “Beauty and the Beat”. And you know what I love about it aside from its hilarity, cleverness and sheer entertainment value? There is no blatant political message or call to arms. It manages to entertain by being subversively funny. It shows so much by telling so little.
It’s a lot like Dave Chappelle’s kind of comedy. Because Todrick Hall is Black.
No, it’s a lot like Dave Chappelle’s comedy because it directly talks about a multitude of issues comfortably through audacious and irreverently silly humor. Yes, Dave Chappelle is a silly, silly man. It is the silliness factor that, for me, makes Clayton Bigsby, his Charlie Murphy version of Prince and Rick James such huge successes. And it uses comedy to break through any personal discomfort that we’ve been trained to armor our intellect with after decades of political correctness.
“Cinderfella” — uf. I feel for Todrick. Because this COULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING in terms of its mass impact. But it settles for “pretty good” because of a decision made in the heat of passion.
ENTERTAINMENT WITH CLEAR POLITICAL AGENDA. I don’t know if I should be revealing this (for it is a powerful piece of advice) but it’s this: subversiveness is always more powerful than direct force.
Politics, for many, can be deeply personal. And if you’ve made a deeply personal decision as to how you want to live your life or are about to make a deeply personal decision about an issue, the last thing you want is for someone (celebrity or not) come in and tell you how to vote, how to live or what to believe. When it comes to personal issues, chances are that you want to have control over what you decide and not to have someone decide it for you.
Think about the old, anti-marijuana commercials. Remember the one with the two kids who were high and giggly while driving a car? And then, they’re so high, they don’t see his 5-year-old kid sister riding her bicycle behind the car, they back up and hit her?
THAT was a powerful 15 seconds that really could have convinced me and shifted how I felt about MJ in college.
But the “MARIJUANA KILLS” message right after it just totally stole all the impact that scary, hit-the-right-emotional-note commercial had just a moment ago. If the director and campaign HADN’T put the little hit-you-over-the-head-with-it message afterwards, it really could have been a powerful piece of propaganda. But instead, it kind of left many an intelligent being with a bad taste in his or her mouth.
I guess what I’m saying is that I wish that Todrick nixed the “Legalize Love” message. Sometimes a little less is a lot more.
“Legalize Love” — without that one statement, the video would be just so much stronger and powerful, even politically, as the artist had intended. The thing is, when one uses a blatant political message, one is making an unconscious demand and a conscious request for the audience to choose only one choice: the message. The message works for the choir that one is preaching to, but it can repel those who are either against the blatant message or are in the somewhere in the middle of making a choice. Because when someone comes up to you and tells you which choice to make, there isn’t really a choice at all.
Command vs Statement vs Question
Command has an inherent: “Do It.”
When you are told by a stranger or a celebrity to “Do It” and you’re not familiar with the cause or a fanatical follower of the celebrity, the command can repel you from a cause that you actually might one day stand behind.
Statement: “This is where I stand.”
It doesn’t demand for others to stand behind where you stand, but it’s one’s way of bravely asserting an idea or ideal one has committed oneself to. Which, actually, can be quite admirable — because it doesn’t make any commands or demands on people to stand with you. This is where you stand and you feel very strongly about this. When you come across a person like this, I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m a lot more open to finding out more about this stance that they feel so very passionate about.
Both political commands and statements have agendas attached to them. And to have an agenda is to be self-serving, and not in service to the person you’re trying to convince.
Question: “What Will You Do With the Feeling This Video Gives You?’
Questions are great because they already offer the audience the freedom of choice, and the choice to choose what is most appropriate for them. Some are fired up, plugged into and live out to serve a desire to take their newest political campaign to the streets. Others are the type to make silent donations to causes. Still others (and your greatest allies) are artists who may unconciously or subtly integrate their version of what they got out of the video in their bodies of work: writing, painting, dance, etc. Still others might bring it to the water cooler or to their ladies who lunch.
There’s a lot more room in a question, especially a question with a clear direction.
Advice: Change the Command to a Statement.
Command: “Legalize Love”
Statement: Well, the entire video is a pretty strong statement. But if one wanted words to it, here’s a statement: “Everyone’s Worthy of a Happily Ever After.” <--It's not strong, but it's still more powerful than a command. Question: “Where Is Your Happily Ever After?”
A bit wordy, perhaps, but I’m not Todrick’s hired copywriter. If I were, I’d probably make a shorter, snappier and emotionally powerful statement.
The “Cinderfella” video opens on very personal, vulnerable and heartfelt note. So to give a command (“Legalize Love”) that ties to a political agenda feels even more emotionally manipulative than it would have to the party-filled, omniscient POV “Beauty and the Beat.”
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. What could’ve been, Toddikins! I mean, you had brilliant costuming, selection of Top 40 songs, classic Disney tunes and lyrics woven into a Broadway-worthy event peppered with the many happy cameos that include but are not limited to Lance Bass, Janice Dickenson and Aubrey O’Day. And the choreography was just amazing. I love how you peppered in the Macarena in between vogue-ing and the Thriller dance.
Next time, I hope you can give people the space to make a choice on how they feel about an issue. Let your art be what it is and stand for itself. And allow people the freedom to receive from it whatever it is that they want. If, on the off-chance you happen to grace upon this small blog and read this, you probably don’t like hearing me tell you this directly. So what makes you think your potential viewers would like to be told how to think or choose? Also, if it’s something than can be enjoyed by all, why just limit it to people who already are for your political stance or agenda? I’m just saaaaaaaayin…
AND THIS IS WHY Kogi stays away from politics as much as possible. For 1, we’re a taco truck. 2, on a personal level, I have philosophical and intellectual critiques on the machinations and mechanisms of politics. 3, strong political statements leave you open to the danger of becoming a pawn in a larger game — a game that you may one day no longer believe in or a game that may one day reveal to you to be false. And 4 — I may state a strong opinion, but I like to give my readers the space to feel or think about it however they want.
THANK YOU FOR STAYING WITH ME, PEOPLES! I THOUGHT THIS BLOG POST WOULD NEVER END!!! (Yes, I totally empathize with you readers!!) Literally, I started this at 6AM and kept picking it apart and adding to it until it turned into something else entirely.
Anyway, I wish Psy, Ailee and Todrick Hall success beyond the wildest of their dreams and ambitions. They work so hard, they care so much, they have so much talent, they so totally deserve it all. AND I CRITIQUE BECAUSE I CARE. (( H U G )) Lord knows I wrecked a solid play or two when I was in ethnic studies because I WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE AUDIENCE UNDERSTOOD MY UNDERLYING MESSAGE. (Though, I think I ended up overlaying it, truth be told.)
Love and tacos,
P.S. Speaking of people I don’t mind being famously talented, it tickled me to find out that the Queen Bey gave Senor Todrick Hall a nod of appreciation for an ambitiously awesome “End of Time” flashmob
How he managed how many different costume changes for a single number HE’S STARRING IN, I have no idea!