Maybe it’s just me but it feels like if you’ve been around the block a few times, you start to notice when something incredibly NEW and EXCITING is actually just a modern retread. I’m not talking about travesties like ‘My Favourite Martian‘, the movie, I’m talking actual trends.
Like this article in Wired about the rise of CGI Instagram influencers. You’re probably not on Instagram – I love it, more than Facebook these days (@nickdoesliving), but the statistics say Over 40s don’t really go for Insta much – but I do roll my eyes at some of the ‘Influencers’. Almost invariably young willowy blondes in their 20s, and doing nothing but pushing brands, as though they genuinely were sitting there using that facial cream and oh gee, somebody happened to turn up with a camera crew, looking like an iPhone shoot.
Now it’s gone to a new level, with CGI willowy models, so there’s not even a real person behind the feed. Just a perfectly realised impression of what an Instagram beauty should look like.
All of which, weirdly, made me think about Max Headroom. Remember him? Back in the day? So Eighties! That crazy white-haired CGI TV show host waaaaaaaaaaaaaay before there was any right for such a thing to exist. It was around the time that animation took a leap so it could even happen, but Max was very punk, very random. I loved him. (My memory is that around the same time somebody produced a Letterman-style tonight show hosted by a CGI Top Cat, yes THE Top Cat, the indisputable leader of the gang. It didn’t last, dammnit.)
So, anyway, keep flogging them skincare products and Bali hotels, Influencer Computer-Gals. I’m sticking with Max.
In the same vein, there’s a great article in The New Yorker about Betty Davis, who briefly took female black funk to unprecedented levels in the 70s. She was briefly married to Miles Davis, hung out with Jimi Hendrix and released three albums that are fucking amazing, but the world wasn’t ready for her (read: mostly white middle-aged record executives) and so she bombed, disappeared off the scene and has never really been seen again, until a documentary that’s just been released.
The New Yorker makes the wise point that Janelle Monáe, a sexually-ambiguous black female artist currently making waves in America, is talked about as a pioneer and breaking new ground, when in fact Davis was there decades ago. It poses the question: if Davis had been as successful as she probably deserved to be, would it have reframed the modern world for the Monáes coming up behind?
It’s a good point. Maybe Max Headroom should be rebooted with an Instagram account to show the young punks how it’s done. Just because computers can make fake people hyper-realistic doesn’t mean it’s the new road them kids would have us believe.
I wonder if we could start a crowd-funding campaign to bring back the Top Cat Tonight Show?