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January 19, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-19

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 5A

Did the aughts suck?

Guns and stilettos

Historiography is essen-
tially intellectual mas-
turbation. All right,
maybe that's a little bit harsh, but
it's a statement
many modern
phers would
more or less
agree with.
Because, when
it comes down
to it, any his- JOSHUA
torical account BAYER
is basically one
party's subjective attempt to
systematize all the haphazard
sociocultural tidbits that go along
with a certain place and time. In
a sense, historiography is kind of
like staring at a random cluster of
clouds and deciding that it looks
somewhat like a bunny rabbit.
Fun? Clearly. Comprehensive? Not
in the least.
Nonetheless, I shall boldly
attempt to historicize the past
four decades of pop music in one
fell swoop: the '60s was the revo-
lutionary glory days of pop going
experimental, the '70s was the
'60s not wanting to end, the '80s
was everyone burning out and the
'90s was everyone embracing their
burnout status while dispassion-
ately smoking a cigarette.
So what about the '00s? One
could compellingly argue it was
the apocalypse. But one could
just as easily make a case that the
aughts have been the most excit-
ing decade in music since ... well,
ever. Really. It just all depends on
how much you dig the Internet.
The musical innovations of
the past decade were far more
about changing the way we listen
to music rather than drastically
changing the music we listen to.
While studio wizardry certainly
became increasingly ear-boggling
as the decade progressed, no true
ground was broken in the realm of
instrumentation. I mean, come on
- 30 years ago, we were already
bored enough to invent the keytar.
But, as the Internet gradually
replaced MTV as the primary life-
line of our country's youth, music
as an art form became vastly

democratized. Do-it-yourself pro- division between popular music
grams like Garage Band made it so and good music.
anyone could use his or her laptop of course, there's been the
as a makeshift recording studio. occasional crossover smash like
Promotional sites like MySpace "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley or "Feel
gave even the greenest musicians Good Inc." by Gorillaz - songs
an outlet to share their tunes on a equally accepted by hipsters and
worldwide scale. And the advent of kid sisters. But the norm has been
peer-to-peer file-sharing gave lis- an uninspired sludge of Auto-
teners practically unlimited access Tune, doof-doof club bangers and
to this bloating sonic databank. American Idol-processed ballads.
As pop culture exploded to the And the reason is that most people
point where "popular" has virtu- old enough to listen to music criti-
ally become a defunct term, sites cally have simply started stealing
like Pandora and Grooveshark were it.
designed to help avid audiophiles College-aged listeners, the age-
sift through this musical slipstream old benefactors of "hip" music,
by allowingthem to create person- have essentially been cut out of the
alized radio stations. musical strain of consumerist pop
And, of course, there was the culture. By illegally download-
rise of the portable MP3 player. ing the majority of our music, us
Gone were the savory days of big kids have basically forfeited
chewingthrough music one CD at our monetary votes, allowing for
a time. Suddenly, people had the the infestation of America's radio
ability to reach into their pocket waves by Disney Channel kiddie-
pop and the dreaded adult alterna-
tive genre. Meanwhile, parents
continue buyingtheir 5-year-old
yedaughters iTunes gift cards and
run the biz. screwingthe rest of us.
But does this mean that'QOs
pop music sucked? Not in the
least. The good stuff simply went
and listen to the entire history of underground. The aughts could be
music - on shuffle. the first decade in which the truly
But what has this populist trend seminal "breakout" bands - Ani-
and massive influx of raw son- mal Collective, TV on the Radio,
gage meant for the music itself? Grizzly Bear, etc. - were unknown
Well, if you look at the current to about 90 percent of America.
Top 10 singles on iTunes, it's easy So who will end up on the
to assume the quality of popular cover of "Aughts Music: A History
music has pretty much gone down Book," Miley Cyrus or Andrew
the crapper. I mean, seriously - Bird? In all honesty, it really
what better evidence is there for doesn't matter. The writing of
capitalistic hell on Earth than the history is little more than some-
fact that some artist named Ke$ha one's self-held popularity contest
actually has two songs in the Top anyway, and the exponential
10? acceleration of entries into the
Our country's musical branch world's music library has all but
of pop culture - as defined by relegated the term "popular" to
radio airplay, iTunes sales and the an individual basis. So let's just all
miserable CD selection at Best Buy kick back with our own person-
- has become increasingly discon- alized On-The-Go playlists and
nected from the realm of music bask in the fact that, whatever .
lovers. Unlike the days when artis- we're listening to, we're probably
tic pioneers like The Beatles main- enjoying it.
tained monopolies over everyone's
hearts, critics and commoners Bayer is considering changing
alike, the aughts have essentially his name to Jo$hua. To stop him,
marked an almost authoritarian e-mail jrbayer@umich.edu.

Monstrous angels
and naked witches
are great dumb fun
For the Daily
Here's one you've heard before:
Video games are art. Not every-
body agrees
with the senti-
ment, but unless
you've been liv-
ing in a cave for B
the past 10 years, For PS3,
you've heard it Xbox 360
from someone. Sega
The huge strides
made by video
games in the past 10 or 15 years in
terms of graphics and complexity
are unquestionable.
But beyond that, there are new
elements that are hard to put a
finger on: maturity, a focus on the
integrity of story, the ability to
move the player emotionally. This

This is why we can't have nice things.
is great for games and really great
for gamers. What's so striking
about Platinum Games's new title
"Bayonetta" is how it acknowledg-
es these changes, paying homage to
them and then flinging them into
an exploding toilet, flushing them
away with the heel of a stiletto
that's also a pistol. While naked.
Bayonetta is a witch, though
what we generally associate with

"witches" is almost totally absent
from the game. Our protagonist
wields four guns - two in her
hands and two serving as high
heels for her boots (which some-
how remain functional) - and
there's not a broom to be found.
She's in the business of killing
angels, and business is a-boomin'.

A 'Mountain of stereotypes

Daily Arts Writer
Champions don't come from
their mothers' wombs; they come
from their
fathers' balls.
Or so Spike TV's
new show "Blue Blue
Mountain State" Mountain
tells us. And
that's one of the State
finest examples of Tuesdays
womb envy evera
created. atlO p.m.
If ever there Spike
was a show that
could be categorized as "man
TV," this is it: Two girls blowing
a banana at the same time, Vagisil
lip balm, sex, football, more sex
and booze all figure prominently
in the premiere episode. The show
begins with the start of football
season at Blue Mountain State - a
fictional university chock full of
college-related stereotypes - and
the arrival of backup quarterback
Alex (Darin Brooks, "Days of Our
Lives"). Ready to begin his col-
lege experience, Alex strives to
enjoy all the pleasures of being
a quarterback with none of the
pressures. This means lots of
"scoring," drinking and occasion-
ally peeing on a hot cougar (who

likes it, apparently).
His roommate Sammy (Chris
Romano, "South Park") dreams of
becoming a team mascot to meet
cheerleaders and videotapes the
previous mascot masturbating (in
full costume) against the trophy
case to oust him. Classy.
Another focus in the premiere
episode is the new running back
Craig, (Sam Jones, "Smallville")
whose opportunistic girlfriend
(Gabrielle Dennis, "The Game") -
spoiler alert - turns down his sex-
ual advances because she secretly is
a lesbian.
Uptight and nervous, Craig is
like Burton Guster (Dule Hill)

from "Psych," while Alex mirrors
Shawn Spencer (James Roday). The
reserved sidekick role always seems
to go to the black guy in these tag
teams, and it's becoming tiresome.
Similarly, Alex's hazing nemesis
Thad (Alan Ritchson, "Smallville")
has a short, black sidekick who
stands close by as he sucks pills off
of scantily clad girls' tongues after
snorting coke off their bodies. Two
stereotypical pairs are two too
The absolute ridiculousness of
each and every scene makes for
a viewing experience that, while
not particularly varied, is at least

Dark humor dominates 'The Maid'

Daily Arts Writer
"The Maid" centers on the life of
Raquel (Catalina Saavedra, "Mami
Te Amo"), a
maid who spent
20 years of her
life working for
a wealthy fam-
ily in Chile before At the
entering a bizarre Michigan
midlife crisis. Forastero
Because of her
age, she's worried
about losing her position with the
people she has come to think of as
her family. Raquel suffers horrible
migraines and has difficulty even
lugging the vacuum cleaner up the
stairs, but she will stop at nothing to
thwartthefamily'sefforts to gether
an assistant maid who could later
replace her.
Raquel's efforts to maintain her
position are rife with dark humor.
Half the time, it's hard to be sure
she's really serious. She disposes
of the family cat and tries to frame
the other maids. She locks people
out of the house and pretends not
to hear them yelling for her. At one
point, the tension between Raquel
and a cranky elderly maid erupts
into a violent fistfight. The humor
seems almost too much at times

- "The Maid" could very easily
transform into a horror film about
a maid who goes insane.
A combination of the ridicu-
lous and the mundane keeps "The
Maid" going. Saavedra is an expert
at keeping people guessing. Her
face is blank and she rarely smiles,
making it hard to know what
exactly is going on in her head or
what she plans on doing next. The
drab appearance of her character
makes a perfect foil for her outra-
geous actions as well as the turmoil
going on inside her head.
From the opening scene, it's
obvious Raquel doesn't belong in
the family for which she works.
She eats her meals separately
from them and sleeps in a sparse,
cell-like room in a large, beauti-
ful house. Raquel seems trapped
somehow. She has no life outside
her work. On her days off, she wan-
ders around, lookinglost and out of
It would be easy to reduce direc-
tor Sebastian Silva's film to a com-
mentary on the cruelties of class
structure, but "The Maid" is about
more than that. The contrasts
between the luxuries Raquel's
employers enjoy and the dull

monotony of Raquel's life are mov-
ing, but it's the isolation that Silva
uncovers that's really striking.
From the father (Alejandro Goic,
"Los Secretos") who has an incom-
prehensible passion for building
miniature ships to the mother's
Director Silva
highlights the
isolation of
the classes.
(Claudia Celdon, "La Vida Me
Mata") oddly symbiotic relation-
ship with Raquel, each character
has something that separates them
from all the others in the film. It
is only through the eyes of Raquel
that the fragmented family con-
nections are constructed.
"The Maid" does get repetitive
and grim as Raquel disposes of one
maid after another. It's not until
Lucy (Mariana Loyola, "Ausente")
See THE MAID, Page 8A

Can you guess which nine people in this photo have herpes?

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