Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Wallace and Gromit don't do postmodernism

On Christmas TV the BBC showed a new Wallace and Gromit short, "A Matter of Loaf and Death". The consensus seems to be that it was, like all their work, fabulous, though AA Gill called them tired and misogynistic in the Sunday Times (takes one to know one perhaps). I liked it a lot, though not as much as the 1990s shorts and the feature a few years back. My favourite Aardman film is Chicken Run, even if Mel Gibson did voice work on it.

What struck me on "Loaf", if we can call it that, is that all the postmodernism has gone out of Aardman. "The Wrong Trousers" and "Chicken Run", like "Toy Story" and "Shrek", appealed above all to semioticians, theorists, post-structuralists and small children. They were part of postmodernism's last cry, the moment when, having permeated the rest of culture and society, postmodernism arrived in the preschool market. I also saw Pixar's "Wall-E" over Xmas, and again postmodernism is conspicuous by its absence.

What does this tell us about postmodernism? That five year olds think it's old hat? That's got to be a bad sign for any cultural movement, in so many ways.

Monday, 29 December 2008

The death of rock and pop

There are few surer ways of winding up people under thirty than being over thirty and telling them rock and/or pop is dead. When Rolling Stone published their best 500 (or was it 100 or 1000 or...) greatest albums of "all time" (world history having begun, as every fool knows, in 1956) a few years back and picked a top ten from 1965-79, all hell broke loose. Admittedly there were some turkeys in there - I mean, Rubber Soul in the top five? way above Kind of Blue and Horses? - but it was the dates, not the selections, that riled.

And you can see the point. Lots of people (most people?) stick with whatever happened to be big when they were 18 for the rest of their lives. And if you are 18, then Kings of Leon really are - by that criterion - as good as The Velvet Underground.

However, the "rock is thriving" argument took a palpable hit with this year's Xmas singles chart. To have the same 1980s song in first and second place shows a bankruptcy which is all new. Granted, "Hallelujah" is a terrific song. But what a lack of creativity and achievement is this. One of the versions is a talentless bit of tat by a talentless show winner, the other is so old the guy who sang it is (tragically) dead.

If rock/pop are dead (or at least played out) this is an interesting point in its own right. I'll keep on the look out for any more actual evidence, and not just as a wind-up.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Hi everyone and welcome to my blog!

So I'm Alan and I've just finished writing a book about digimodernism for Continuum in New York. It'll be published in the States in May 2009 and in Britain in July.

What is digimodernism?

In a sentence, it's the cultural effects of new technologies. It's the impact of computerization on texts and the arts. It's a whole new cultural paradigm, the successor to postmodernism which bit the dust around the turn of the millennium.

In this blog I'm going to be recording my thoughts on the subject of digimodernism from here to publication day and beyond. I sent off the manuscript to my editor David Barker on Monday, but don't yet know what he makes of it (it'll be a blow if he hates it!).

Digimodernism is the revised name for what used to be called pseudo-modernism. You can google that term if you want to know more. Or just keep reading this blog...