Tuesday, October 5, 2010

how fake? / why fake?

Offensive but catchy frat-rap sensation 3OH!3 have released a "documentary" to go along with their most recent album.

Now, anyone who has ever tried to make a documentary before (or any keen observer) can instantly tell that these scenes are staged. On the other hand, some of the drama depicted is relatively plausible given the band's stage in their careers.

For instance, fans have already complained about the apparent switch to a more pop-friendly sound aimed at reproducing past hit success, rather then the result of direct inspiration. And a decision to do such is depicted at the start of this "documentary." Even though the idea comes from a supposed record exec, the 3OH!3 boys are clearly portrayed as desirous of following his advice.

So, one question to ask of the "documentary" is how fake? (Although, embarrassingly, it seems a question which doesn't even occur to many of 3OH!3's fans.)

The most interesting question here though is why fake? 3OH!3's absurd posturing and excessively misogynistic / materialistic lyrics leave one wondering just how sincere the band is in these sentiments, and just how much is a carefully constructed ironic artifice. The decision to stage a "documentary" confirms the careful construction of the 3OH!3 image, but it does not reveal what exactly is being hidden. Was it necessary to fake these scenes because the truth is far more mundane: that the album and its lyrical excesses are simply a subterfuge constructed by subtle and acute businessmen? Or were they necessary to conceal a dark sincerity in the band's rank materialism and abject objectification of women?

Take the opening scene with the executive, for example - are 3OH!3 laughingly revealing a frustrating pressure which helped shaped the album? Or concealing their own cynical machinations?

Of course, a "real" documentary would have shed light onto this puzzling dilemma. The "documentary" on offer, however, merely confirms the worst of both interpretations: on the one hand, the boys' lifestyle can't be anywhere near as frat-party excessive as they portray it in their lyrics (and some of the staged scenes), or else they would a) be unwilling to take time out for such elaborate acting / memorization / staging exercises, and b) produce an even more compelling effect by depicting the actualities of their excess anyway. On the other hand, the fact that so much effort went into such a thing certainly confirms their intention, self-awareness, and complicity in their fabricated image.

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