Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dart Adams presents No More Heroes: The Once The Face Got Revealed The Game Got Real Edition

I was talking to my brother the other day about how the fantasy and reality of being a superhero would work. If you do things that people recognize as good or exceptional and you keep your identity hidden to the public, sooner or later someone's going to get curious and want to know who you are. As a kid that was one of the aspects that drew me to graffiti. The idea that you can come up with your own name and then it was up to you to make that name as famous as possible while avoiding capture and keeping your identity hidden. Once you became a "king", eventually people would figure out who you were one way or another (although usually not from getting caught).

This new Poisonous Paragraphs segment is called "No More Heroes" (the photo above features an original Banksy mural) and it will deal with the deconstruction, dissection and examination of "superheroes" and everything superhero related from a real life perspective. Considering how much money Hollywood is making by just picking a comic book/graphic novel property, acquiring it's rights and then adapting them into movies it seems like superhero movies will be hot for at least another two or three years (until people get sick of them again like they did before Blade came out in 1998).

There are several obvious reasons why people would choose to champion the cause of good or provide a voice to the voiceless. There are several more reasons why these same people would prefer to do so anonymously. People often focus on the person delivering the message rather than the message itself. Think about when you hear a song you like for the first time before you even see a video for it.

You now have a picture or an image in your head and once you actually see the performer of the song that image in your head can either be eclipsed or it can become a total letdown. It can often diminish the impact of the song to you. This is why some people choose or prefer to make music, art or "exact justice" under the veil of total secrecy. Now all you can judge the music, art or deeds on are the finished product/final result itself. After all, isn't that what really matters anyways?

Remember back in the days when Ghostface Killah used to wear a ski mask or cover his face back in the days and all we could focus on were his verses while the girls squealed for Method Man? Remember when he took the mask off and he could retain the respect he had before plus he had girls screaming for him, too? Who remembers that Source article from 1996 where Nas said he wished he could just make his albums anonymously without anyone knowing who he was and mentioned Ghostface by name? People were asking him to clarify that statement for years afterwards! I understood what he meant the first time, though.

The everyday stressors and pressure put on you by the music industry and the expectations and adoration from your own fans can force you to withdraw and seclude yourself from the craziness of the outside world. Take MF Doom for example, back when he was Zev Love X in KMD and he had a record deal things were completely different. After the loss of his younger brother, production partner and closest friend he lost it and fell into a depression that lasted for years. When he re-emerged, he had a different name, a different style and he wore a mask to hide his face.

Even though we all know who MF Doom is we still don't know who he is no matter how many albums he puts out or guest appearances he does. It doesn't matter how many beats he makes or rhymes he spits, we'll never know what's really going on with him (especially after his falling out with former partner in crime MF Grimm).

Rumors of his declining health and declining output as of late have people worried. Are these Doom imposters that are performing at his shows merely an elaborate hoax/practical joke to set up Doom's new album and show how fans focus on the performer and not the music (the reason he wears his mask in the first place) or are these people merely stand-ins because he's too sick to make it himself? Who knows? I know for one thing that Kno of Cunninglynguists isn't amused in the least by "his" actions.

If you make the conscious decision to make art anonymously there are those that will go to outrageous lengths to "out" you on some Joker/J.Jonah Jameson shit. Look at the British press and their numerous attempts to reveal the identities of political street artist Banksy and Dubstep DJ/producer Burial. Think about all of the shit that the police have gone through to try to apprehend or catch certain graf writers/crews in the past. You'd think they were after a damn terrorist cell or some shit!

The fact remains that as long as we have mass media and unjust laws/grey areas such as less and less privacy due to closed circuit television cameras and more and more of our public space is becoming privatized and transformed for promotional or commercial usage that the public has no say in even though their eyes must be subjected to it daily there will be people there to take back that public space or make it more "interactive".

As long as record labels and video networks feel they can come up with a marketable back story and image for you rather than let your music speak for itself there will be people waiting to "out" you as well to see if you are all that you claim to be. What happens when it's discovered that the face you wear in front of the camera everyday turns out to be nothing more than a mask itself and now the "real you" is exposed for the whole world to see?



Anonymous said...

I'm from California so I don't have a problem with gangster rap (especially the real west coast ish). I just think it's hilarious when cats like Rick Ross take the gangster image so far, that they can't turn back, and admit something little like being a CO back in the day...Beanie Sigels mom was a CO and he never lied about THAT, I have many family members who work in Corrections...This is what happens folks let an image sell their albums and not the lyrics/music.

John Q said...

Good Post. I see your point about superheros and rap game. The mask does seem to let people focus on the whole character of the artist (read: MF DOOm), so that's that. Let the music sell itself and don't present yourself as overtly as some image and who knows? you may succeed in this thang called rapping.

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