Week 7 Readings: The Manifesto

This weeks readings proved to be amongst the most invigorating of the semester. Perhaps it is simply my rebellious-undergrad excitement at reading of intellectuals fighting the machine, or perhaps these issues are exciting and relevant in their own right. Now that I think about it – it’s definitely both.

In confessions of an intellectual (property), Kembrew McLeod (2005) writes a concise description of the history of sampling, placing the issue of intellectual property law with regard to sampling in a clear historical context. McLeod writes; “As we have seen in recent years, intellectual property owners are succeeding in pushing for a radical rethink and revision of intellectual property law.” McLeod goes further and asks, with regard to extended copyright of songs such as Happy Birthday; “how does retaining the private ownership of those folk songs serve the public good or promote creativity?” This article ended with a genuinely inspiring call-to-arms: “As our culture increasingly becomes fenced off, it becomes all the more important for those of us in the university setting to protect fair use rights and guard against further privatizations that stifle creativity and the free exchange of ideas that are essential to maintaining a functioning democracy.” I could not help but to feel stirred by this marvellous essay.

In his more recent article “Crashing the spectacle”, Kembrew McLeod (2009) has produced a more focused account. The key subjects of his article are the KLF of whom he writes are..

“an anarchic British pop duo who used several pseudonyms: The Timelords, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the JAMS, and the KLF. Between 1987 and 1992 they racked up seven U.K. top ten hits, even crossing over in America with the songs ‘3 A.M. Eternal’ 
and ‘Justified and Ancient’—the later of which went to number one in eighteen countries (Simpson, 2003: 199).  Those super-cheesy singles are the main reason why this duo is remembered, if they are remembered at all—especially in the U.S.— as a novelty techno-pop act. (The hook ‘KLF is gonna rock ya!’, from ‘3 A.M. Eternal’, is wired directly into the synapses of millions.)”

He further elaborated that…

“Their brief but ubiquitous popularity nicely obscured a radical and hilariously subversive critique of the culture industry”.

The details of this article prevented it from being as poetically inspiring as the previous though it is important to note that the networking, stunts, successes and integrity of the KLF and associated artists/movements were impressive and surprisingly pre-dated internet proliferation by many years.

Just a little extra: KLF intentionally playing an unpopular set at the Brit Awards…


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