The Heart of Life is good and all, but maybe just not for TV
ABC has announced a new TV show inspired by—and named after—the John Mayer song "The Heart of Life," from the 2006 album Continuum.
Written by Ben Queen (Cars 2 and 3) and unleashed upon us by executive producer Melvin Mar (a close friend of Mayer), the show is about two siblings from different worlds who discover they're related and have to reckon with their father's sordid legacy—so basically Parent Trap for adults.
Image via ABC News
It's not entirely clear how the song "The Heart of Life" is related to the show's plot. The track features some electric guitar ear candy and the admittedly poignant sentiment, "Pain throws your heart to the ground / love turns the whole thing around / no it won't all go the way it should / but I know the heart of life is good," but doesn't mention anything in particular about brothers, fathers, or daughters, unlike other Mayer tracks we know.
The Heart of Life - John Mayer www.youtube.com
As we wait with bated breath for more information on the pilot of "The Heart of Life," here are nine songs that would have made better TV shows than this thematically ambiguous track, seemingly plucked at random from the sides of a tween girl's Converse in the mid-2000s. The simulation broke a long time ago, and here we are.
- Mr. Tambourine Man — Bob Dylan
BOB DYLAN - Mr Tambourine Man www.youtube.com
Really, a John Mayer song is getting a TV series before Dylan? This song contains some of the greatest poetry ever written by everyone's favorite Nobel Prize-shunning folk virtuoso.
Mr. Tambourine Man could be an incredible travel show about an enigmatic tour guide—known only as the eponymous Tambourine Man—who invites constituents onto his magic swirlin' ship to take physical but also spiritually illuminating trips throughout the smoke rings of their mind to some of the world's most epic and exclusive windy beaches, helping everyone forget about today until tomorrow.
2. Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar - DNA. www.youtube.com
The Pulitzer-Prize winning album should be a series, with episodes named after each song. The album tells a nuanced, time-bending story about chance, fame, love, and violence, and with its razor-sharp societal critiques layered over iconic hooks, it seems to be crying out for visual and narrative scope. The second season could play the first's story in reverse, revealing new aspects of the journey of the show's complicated protagonist Duckie, an ascendant rap star who narrowly avoids death—or does he?—revealing new storylines and easter eggs embedded in the first season all the while. Sounds impossible, but Lamar did it sonically; TV's best minds, where are you?
3. OutKast — Hey Ya
OutKast - Hey Ya! (Video) www.youtube.com
A master class in thematic complexity, this song is one of the saddest club bangers in history. Just listen to the lyrics; "Why oh, why oh / Are we so in denial? / When you know we're not happy here," sings André, making this song the perfect inspiration for a TV documentary about the way that social media allows us to project joyfully funkadelic exteriors while hiding the messiness and complexities of our real lives behind filters.
Plus, this song contains one of the best puns in history. "What's cooler than cool? Ice cold!" could somehow be an epic rallying cry for the polar vortex era.
4. Ariana Grande — thank u, next
Ariana Grande - thank u, next www.youtube.com
This song just
needs to be the title of a dating show, preferably one about Pete Davidson and his relationship with the Internet, or Ariana and her tattoo artists. Seriously, the world just needs a button emblazoned with the song's title which, when pressed, sends rejected applicants off the island. Other option: this show could be about female prosecutors finding perpetrators of sexual abuse and totally destroying their careers on live TV; in this one the button could send its victims spiraling down a pit straight to prison. Netflix, are you listening?
5. Eminem — Stan
Eminem - Stan (Long Version) ft. Dido www.youtube.com
Not only does this Eminem-Dido collab tell one of modern music's most nuanced and disturbing stories; its title has also become a meme, with
stanning implying an overly passionate obsession with a famous person. This show could follow around the world's most erratic stans as they try to befriend and ultimately stalk their celebrity idols, breaking into their houses, and sometimes killing their significant others.
6. Radiohead — I Will
Radiohead I will www.youtube.com
This epically apocalyptic song from
Hail to the Thief allegedly stemmed from Thom Yorke's obsession with the Gulf War, but it seems like a relevant theme song for a post-apocalyptic drama about a couple stuck in a bunker / underground—a pregnant woman and her lover who become determined to take down the vaguely Trumpian overlord in a world ravaged by nuclear war. Alternatively, it could inspire a Black Mirror episode about a world in which androids reach the singularity and take over the human world so people have to hide in a bunker underground, only to later realize that they themselves are robots; the series already used Radiohead's Exit Music for one of its ending sequences, so it's high time for this eerie masterpiece to have its time in the spotlight.
7. The Killers — When You Were Young
The Killers - When You Were Young (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
Hear this out: the line "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus / but he talks like a gentleman" is simply begging for a TV show about people who have spiritual awakenings and realize that their gods look absolutely nothing like the ones they were told to believe in as children. Gorgeous shots of the show's stars "burning down the highway skyline" as they drive away from everything they've ever known to start cults in the desert could alternate with moving flashbacks to childhoods spent in Bible school, gazing out the window and dreaming of Satanic escapades. (Alternatively the Mountain Goats song
The Greatest Ever Death Metal Band in West Denton would work very well for the same plot).
8. Mitski — Be the Cowboy
Mitski - Geyser (Official Video) www.youtube.com
Mitski's album topped many 2018 end-of-year lists and brought the indie musician tons of mainstream accolades. Now
Be the Cowboy, an album about taking life by the reins and living with the confidence of your average white man regardless of one's actual race and/or gender, needs to become a TV reimagining of Western films starring a non-white, non-male lead who rides around on their motorcycle confiscating guns, preaching intersectional feminism, and saving the environment; all in all being the hero 2018 America does not deserve but desperately needs.
9. Nina Simone — Four Women
Nina Simone Four Women www.youtube.com
This one writes itself. Nina Simone's story about four unique women would be the perfect narrative for a series about Sarah, Saffronia, Sweet Thing, and Peaches, each of whom suffers in various ways because of the color of their skin. This song has already inspired a play, but it's so rich with meaning and relevance that it definitely deserves its day onscreen—at least before another vaguely heartwarming but long-extinct John Mayer track gets revived from its resting place in the depths of irrelevance by the guy who co-wrote the screenplay for Pixar's Cars.
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City.
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A cultural misunderstanding may be responsible for Shein's swastika necklace scandal...but it's still an awful company
Popular fast-fashion retailer Shein came under fire this week for selling a swastika necklace on their website.
A Chinese company, Shein has become well-known for their inexpensive clothing and accessories, often featured in so-called "haul" videos on YouTube. Shein has since removed the necklace from their site and issued an apology. But screenshots of the faux-gold necklace—listed for between $2.50 and $4.00 as "Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace"— quickly spread on social media, with users expressing their disgust at the apparent insensitivity to what that symbol represents.
To everyone we’ve offended, we’re really sorry... https://t.co/rm6TCgx99K— SHEIN (@SHEIN)1594381498.0
Earlier this month Shein was called out for cultural insensitivity after listing Muslim prayer rugs—some featuring an image of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca—as "Fringe Trim Carpets" for decorative use and for selling traditional Southeast Asian dresses modeled by white women and renamed to remove cultural signifiers.
Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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