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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008

That’s what this Silicon Alley Insider article is wondering about the new service, mtvmusic.com, and how it’ll fair in the Net world.  As even our grandparents know by now, MTV’s heyday is in the past tense, though it’s by no means toast now.  As the SAI article points out, YouTube offers a lot of the same material that the new MTV service does (though they do have some exclusives) so what exactly is gonna peel away millions of YT users to an older name brand?  Nostalgia?  Probably not for the most part, especially if they’re already used to YT as a video destination.  Plus, part of the fun of YT isn’t just the music stuff there but also all the historical stuff and the bloopers, jokes and ridiculous home movies there, which MTV would be hard pressed to compete against, even with their flood of reality shows.


And it’s not as if the channel isn’t trying but as a wise industry-watching friend pointed out, too many of the Net projects seem to evaporate too easily- remember Urge? I give ‘em credit for trying and as I said, it’s far from over for them but it’s touch for relatively older name-brand to get a hold in the video game which they once dominated after a destination like YouTube has taken over that ground.  Of course, the day will come when YT itself will be an ol’ brand and struggling to catch up to the next online video destination.  Then again, after Google spent $1.5 billion dollars on YT two years ago, they still have yet to figure out a way to milk some serious profit out of the site much less make back their investment.  It’s a tough business and though YT’s the head dog now, they ain’t exactly on firm ground.


UPDATE: Wanna see how another site can actually compete with YouTube effectively?  Check out this USA Today article about Hulu’s success.


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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008

I’ve noted before Dialectic of Sex author Shulamith Firestone’s fatwa against smiling. Firestone responds to the way men often demand smiles from women (and children) and mask their aggression with this request that seems to them innocuous, almost a favor (she’ll be so much prettier if she smiles!) by calling for “a smile boycott, at which declaration all women would instantly abandon their ‘pleasing’ smiles, henceforth smiling only when something pleased them.”


She wouldn’t be happy with this article by Carl Zimmer in Discover magazine, noted by Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution. The article suggests that women with their faces frozen in a smile by Botox are possibly happier because they are always smiling, and they are also consequently making others happy with their contagious expression:


People with Botox may be less vulnerable to the angry emotions of other people because they themselves can’t make angry or unhappy faces as easily. And because people with Botox can’t spread bad feelings to others via their expressions, people without Botox may be happier too.


It’s easy to imagine this being distorted into lending support to the sexist idea that women owe the world their smiles, lest they become guilty of transferring negative emotions to the world. Maybe Botox is less about wrinkle eradication (a mere alibi) than it is about making women into dolls that can only express placid agreeableness. Zimmer sensibly warns, “Making faces helps us understand how other people are feeling. By altering our faces we’re tampering with the ancient lines of communication between face and brain that may change our minds in ways we don’t yet understand.”


The ability to use our face to express what we feel—the ability not to smile—seems fairly significant. When you are being leered at, for instance, it’s probably comforting to have a sneer in your arsenal to discourage others from consuming you as an object. The idea that what our mind feels can be altered or dictated by what our body is doing involuntarily is sort of scary and probably should be resisted, not abetted. Freezing our faces into a nonexpressive mask just doesn’t seem like a good way to enhance our interactions with the world, regardless how pleasant others may find it when we are incapable of expressing displeasure.


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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

While their live show alone could easily carry them into the future, if Monotonix can find a way to translate the reckless energy onto record, these crazy folk from Tel Aviv are going to be huge. It was a smart lineup decision to put these guys on last, as trash buckets flew, drums were annihilated, and beer was spilled over the entire audience. The best thing about Monotonix, though, is they aren’t gimmicky; the instrumentation—just drums, guitar, and vocals—is so ungodly powerful that it would be fantastic even if they were just standing stoically. More bands need to take note that you’ve got to incorporate the best of both worlds to make it in today’s oversaturated musical market. Monotonix not only heed this advice, they go above and beyond it.



Tagged as: cmj, monotonix
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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

High Places put out one of the best debut records of 2008, but unfortunately, their live show isn’t going to push them out into the crowd of developed bands quite yet. Although it’s hard for a duo to be able to put on a captivating live show with so much going on musically, they need to add elements to their live show to hold the audience’s interest. To be fair, they are still new on the scene and they have plenty of time to grow. The songs are great but the show is lacking, a common case these days it seems


Tagged as: cmj, high places
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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

There’s something to be said for a band that can hold it down as a three-piece, and Thrill Jockey’s Pontiak can do just that. One the heaviest, more intelligent bands I saw over the course of CMJ, Pontiak proved they are more than just a “heavy” band. Their tracks are minimal, yet composed with great accuracy, and were able to hold the audience’s attention with a trance-like quality until the guitar exploded into freak-out territory: A true psychedelic, stoner metal experience without all the assorted clichés.


Tagged as: cmj, pontiak
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