Sunday, September 03, 2006

We'll Always Want Paris

Not a Banksy.

So Bansky, a UK "guerrilla artist," just replaced 500 Paris Hilton CDs throughout England with fakes. The fakes' songs are remixed, and their inserts have been changed--liner notes, photos, etc. They now ask questions like "What have I done?" and "Why Am I Famous?"

I guess if art consists of asking obvious questions that need asking (and that's actually a pretty good definition), this is art. But what interests me far more than the doctored albums is the response from Virgin and HMV, the big chains in which Banksy swapped out the CDs.

The corporations have decided to treat it like a cute prank. HMV's spokesman said, "I guess you can give an individual such as Banksy a little bit of leeway for his own particular brand of artistic engagement." Virgin's said, ""I have to take my hat off - it's a very good stunt."

I don't think I've ever seen a store basically admit, "We're each okay with losing almost $5,000 in potential sales because, frankly, we didn't deserve to make money off this shit anyway."

And yet, even though everybody--including the soulless profit machines tasked with pumping her crap into our ears--agrees that Paris Hilton's music (as Haydn put it) sucks hemorrhoids, the goddamn album still debuted at number 29 in England. I'd love to think that the Hilton family bought all of those copies to leave in the hotel rooms lieu of mints on the pillows, but I suspect that Britishers, like Americans, actually bought the damn things. And this in an age in which stealing the hideous album is easier than ever and--apparently--just fine by the people who stand to make a profit off it.

Something is deeply wrong with popular culture. Or shallowly wrong. But wrong, wrong, wrong.


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