And a scarecrow shall lead them

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Last September the Chipotle burrito chain released this haunting little cartoon about a scarecrow’s moral crisis in the midst of the corporate/chemical farming industry. Poignant, sad, a little bit silly, “Scarecrow” made no mention of the restaurants or its products until the last few seconds of a 3:23-minute film. It’s fantastic and if you haven’t you should watch it right here, right now:

Given the dual motivations of moral indignation and commercial opportunity — and the divesting of temporary controlling owners McDonald’s, Inc. the Chipotle owners just kicked their campaign against the agricultural behemoths up a notch or six with an even bigger film-and-sorta-advertising project called “Farmed and Dangerous,” a satirical, multi-part adventure series set inside the management of Animoil, a large-scale agribiz whose petroleum-based cow feed pellets can have, um, explosive effects on their diners.

Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” “Reaper,” et. al) stars, hilariously. Here’s the trailer for the series.

The four-part, two-hour series premieres on Hulu on February 17.
And here’s today’s NYT story on “Farmed and Dangerous.”

Even harder out here for a bitch: Lily Allen takes heat for hot new video

Satire or satyr-ific music porn?

Satire or satyr-ific music porn?

Kick-ass British chanteuse Lily Allen just released this video for her latest single, “Hard Out Here,” which strikes me as both a sharp-eyed commentary on mod pop culture and also, in its way, crazy hot.

Now, let’s get one thing straight: Lily gets me all hot and bothered, which seems all too typical (I’m a dude who is into ladies) but I swear has nothing to do with the way she looks, which is shall we say appealing. But then, I hardly ever contemplate her looks because I’m too busy listening to her songs and thrilling again to her insouciant voice and — more important — how smart and funny she is.

You’ve got to check Allen out if you haven’t yet. Her first two albums, Still, Alright, and It’s Not Me, It’s You are little masterpieces of danceable social observation and cultural criticism. A significant number of her songs include the singer describing a man she’s known who she then deconstructs into little quivering parts. And they all have it coming! The obnoxious guy at the bar (Are you stupid or just a little bit slow?/…it’s not going to happen/Not in a million years!) her stoned-and-shiftless little brother (Oh little brother please refrain from doing all that/I’m trying to help you out so you can stop being a twat…). And on and on, right up to the sap of a boyfriend she dumps in the devastating “Not Big.” I never wanted it to end this way/You’ve only got yourself to blame/I’m gonna tell the world you’re rubbish in bed now/And that you’re small in the game.

Why do I love Lily Allen so much? Because she can whip any man in this bar. Probably with half of her brain tied behind her back.

No matter, the seduce-you-to-death video she’s got now — with its squadrons of lycra-and-leather-clad twerk-bots — is stirring up all kinds of feminist outrage from critics wondering if the “Hard Out Here” video isn’t maybe protesting too much about sexist cliches propagated in pop culture (Miley, Robin, ad infinitum) while simultaneously using the very same tropes to its own OMG-look-at-that-girl’s-ass benefit.

But while I have absolutely no problem with feminists or hard-eyed feminist critiques of popular culture I’m still taking Allen, and “Hard Out Here,” for their word. Which is only fair when you consider Allen’s oeuvre as a whole. Consider the brutal boy-bashing noted above. Consider Allen’s equally unsparing analyses of greed culture (“The Fear”) and the Bush administration (“Fuck You”).

Mostly though, consider that sex — and being sexy — isn’t always a phallocentric weapon for diminishing women. Of course it can be. Power-obsessed guys (no shortage of them) take whatever they can get as long as it marginalizes someone else. But sex can also be empowering for women and as the men behind the men detonated in “Not Big,” “Knock ’em Out” et. al can surely attest, anyone who mistakes Lily Allen for a victim will live to regret it.

Don’t just take it from me. Here’s Lily herself responding to her critics (some of whom are clearly upset about the number of non-Caucasian dancers in the video, too):

Privilege, Superiority and Misconceptions

1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong.
2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they’re wrong.
3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.
4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.
5. I’m not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.
6. Ask the ladies yourselves @shalaeuroasia @monique_Lawz @ceodancers @TempleArtist@SelizaShowtime @melycrisp

Video: Raul Siexas’s original “Sociedad Alternativa”

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Nothing but alternativa coming off of this guy. Check out his other work too, but start here. Rocks.

JayZ, artsy people and “Picasso Baby”

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The guy in the alabaster cow head nearly upstages the star, which is just one reason why this video — and the performance art piece it captures — is so exceptionally cool.

Only caveat for me is when the art dealers show up. What is it about those people? Something about the cheery mix of high fashion, aggressive artsiness, trendiness and rapier commodification, I guess. And about how crazily inadequate I feel in all categories when I’m in the same room with them?

Some people are scared of clowns. I’m scared of Sandra Gering.

The holy light in Brian Wilson’s “You Still Believe in Me”

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Not sure I’m crazy about the video visualization of the music, but it’s interesting and any time you have an excuse to listen to the vocals-only mix of the Beach Boys’ “You Still Believe in Me” my philosophy of life is: take it.

How to describe how this sounds? Otherworldly. Holy. To put it lightly.