Yesterday Pitchfork mentioned my remix of Architecture in Helsinki (see previous post). The blurb writer, Paul Thompson, goes out of his way to deprofessionalize us. It’s weird. And worth looking at.
Check it: “The first of many manifestations of ‘Heart It Races’, messed about by DJ /Rupture and yelled over by Mr. Lee*G (who, for his sake, I hope is the same Mr. Lee G who directed Yo’ Mama’s a Freak), is streaming on the band’s MySpace right this instant.”
Let’s unpack this awkward sentence!
I “mess about” on the track, Lee “yells over” it. Thompson’s verb choices position us as a bit barbarian, with no serious relationship to the original tune. The Pitchfork music writer perceives screams instead of what is obviously melodic singing. If that’s what he hears, so be it… We’re interested in what comes next.
Instead of offering any information on Trinidadian vocalist Mr Lee G, Thompson uses his time and hyperlinks to express his hope that Lee is a porn director of the same name. Why associate Lee with someone he clearly is not? Why send traffic to the porn guy’s page? (Note how Thompson excuses his pornographic “hope” with a condescending pat-on-the-head: ‘for Lee’s sake’. His phrasing is semantically unclear and syntactically inelegant. If you give ‘em enough rope… )
The telling thing here is that while Thompson employs a shakily racist subtext to denigrate Lee, he chooses the only film from the director’s output of the past 5 years that DOESN’T explicitly mention race in the title. Nor does he link to the first, obvious Google hit for “Lee G”, the IMDB page that lists all these films. That would have made his racialized joke a few shades too overt. So we witness Thompson performing that familiar liberal judo move — underscore largely imaginary racial differences by conspicuously neglecting to mention race directly. (It’s a shame, because the other ‘racy’ titles are awesome, configuring white desirability in terms of blackness: Juicy White Booty, White Girls Got Azz Too, Phat Azz White Girls, etc. These titles subvert racial tropes.)
Folks complain about how Pitchfork journalists often appear uncomfortable covering music beyond their magazine’s white indie norm, and Thompson’s barely disguised hostility is a particularly squirmy example of this.
If you don’t quite follow my argument it might be easier to embody Thompson’s methodology, redirecting his style:
“Paul Thompson, a data-entry typist (who, for his sake, I hope is not the same Paul Thompson of NYC convicted for murder last Saturday), messes about when trumping-up press releases into Pitchfork news items.”