Doomed to Repeat It: Would Disney Pay for Things They Don't Know?

AV CLUB: Oddly enough, one of the thing that really brings home the sexual undercurrents in Devo’s songs is the Devo 2.0 project from 2006, where you and Disney assembled a group of tweens to sing revamped versions of Devo songs. Not only is “Girl U Want” changed to “Boy U Want,” but the references to watering mouths and an “aroma of undefined love” are completely reworked.

Jerry Casale of DEVO: That’s the best story. The Disney people, in the beginning, go, “Hey, how would you like to repurpose your material for a 4-to-8-year-old audience?” And we went, “Really?” They said, “Yeah. We want you to do a whole DVD. What would you do?”

They gave us about a week to think about it. And I said, “Well, what if we did it like The Monkees? What if we cast a bunch of kids that can actually sing and play, and they will play Devo songs, and I’ll shoot videos with them, and we’ll tour them at middle schools.”

“Yeah, that’d be great. But we want to pick the songs.” [emphasis mine] And we said okay. So they picked 12 songs [emphasis mine].

What’s fantastic is, they must never have actually listened to those songs. Because deep into the picture, at the phase where we’ve recorded everything and we’re shooting the videos and I’m turning in a video budget—it’s at that point that somebody upstairs in the Disney Taliban would like to see all the lyrics printed out. I don’t think I’m hiding anything, so I send the lyrics.

Oh my God. Unbelievable, the next thing that happened—the firestorm that started. They’re poring over these lyrics, executives in their 30s and 40s, suits at Disney poring over these lyrics and for the first time paying attention to the songs they loved and picked. So it was like, “So listen, um, ‘Beautiful World.’ We’d really like that on the DVD, but you can’t say ‘It’s a beautiful world, but not for me.’” And it was like, “Oh really? Gee, that was kind of the whole point. What can we say?” The guy goes, “How about ‘for me too?’” And it just got better from there.

My favorite of all was—there’s a verse in “That’s Good” that I wrote the lyrics to in 1982. And the verse goes, “Life’s a bee without a buzz / It’s going great ’til you get stung.” Meaning, basically, you can get surprised. You can get ambushed, and that’s the point.

They go “You gotta take that whole verse out of there, or replace it with another verse, or edit the song.” And I’m going, “What do you mean?” They go, “We know what you’re talking about, Casale.” And I go, “What do you mean? What am I talking about?” They go, “‘Life’s a bee’ means ‘Life’s a bitch.’ ‘Without a buzz’ means unless you’re getting high. And ‘It’s going great until you get stung,’ meaning as long as you get away with it, unless the cops pop you.” And it was like, “Who was I talking to here? P. Diddy?” Their sensibility had been so formed by hip-hop and current music that they were reinventing meanings in my words to go along with urban street culture now. The words were written 30 years ago, [emphasis mine] basically. You went beyond getting mad to just like going, “This is proof of devolution. This is it.” We thought it was really funny.

[Source: The AV Club, 30-Jun-2010]

Memento Mori Afa Astrae

The genius of David Bowie was that he could look at any typical endeavor, and he could find a way to add a new spin on it, usingly merely the resources he had, at hand.

Like: say, make a simple publicity photo more memorable by swapping a few clothes.

Or  get a piano from the studio basement and make a whole new song, right there, on the spot.

Or name your last album in a way both eminently strange and yet easily readable on all modern social media platforms..

Let us remember not just what he gave us, but also that he was always looking for something new to give. Throw your manuals away and see what your toys can do.

What does perfection look like?

I've railed against gaming journalism since at least 1999. Game reviews have only gotten sillier, with a "5 star" system not offering enough objective gradiation, so it's now  fractions like "9.75 out of 10." (Reviewing to three significant digits?)

So God bless Toby Fox. Here are the review quotes he uses, for the Steam page selling Undertale, to show us what 100% perfection looks like.

“The puzzles aren't particularly impressive.”
10/10 – Destructoid

“I have a couple of issues with the user interface.”
10/10 – PCInvasion

“If there’s a criticism to be had, it’s that sometimes Toby Fox doesn’t know when to let a joke go.”
10/10 – The Jimquisition

I have a new hero. ^.^

Only following orders...

What's fascinating about the anthropomorphization of corporations is that, somehow, if people are part of a collective, they're absolved from responsibility.

LIke this whole Volkswagen thing. Someone ordered the project. Someone programmed the computers to do the fooling. Someone did the quality-assurance to make sure it worked.

These people did what they did, willfully and voluntarily. And yet somehow, it's the fictional corporation that's at fault, and not the actual people who are a part of it?

Huh, the Wikipedia article said Ford and GM tried the same thing back in 1996. Now I have to wonder if my new car gets such great mileage because it spits out more poison?

Media ethics: Microsoft and Machinima

So it's been leaked that Microsoft was paying Machinima, who in turn paid its contributors, to talk positive about Xbox One games (video link). Some observations:

Memento Mori, or "Then They Changed What It Was"

(cross-posted from a FurAffinity comment thread)

Some greymuzzles will romanticize the "good old days", when you only had 3 TV channels and you were forced to watch "Battle of the Network Stars" or whatever crap those guys were airing. That era is gone, and it's not coming back. And greymuzzles will also have to ask what was all that great about their old stuff, when it can be made freely accessible to new audiences at no cost. Why isn't more of this available? Where are the classics? If this old stuff was so great and so innovative, where is it?

There's far, far too many creators (not just furry ones) who were born on third base and thought they had hit homers. Back when there were fewer players in town, if people wanted furry content, they could only get it from a few sources. As digital-delivery and print-on-demand has grown, now people who want furry content to their needs can go to more places for it. Some of the older creators have found that when people could find alternative product, that the customers stopped coming to their door.

Subjectivity aside, there has to be something to modern furry content that resonates with audiences. For example, how does the My Little Pony revival figure into this? It's a 1980s property about anthropomorphic horses, so it should surely be something in the greymuzzle's bailiwick. When the bronycons have more attendance than furry cons, then it's not purely an issue of "more diverse" content. There's something in MLP:FIM that resonates with people. A lot of people.

By far, the biggest challenge of the greymuzzles is to remember that the furry community is larger than ever, but it's also more discriminating than ever. You were a kid once. What spoke to you, then? And as an artist, what can you do to make it to speak to people, today? And as one of the best artists, what can you do to make it speak to people of tomorrow?