Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Goddamn Beautiful Bullshit of Father John Misty - The Memo

When you listen to the gospel of Father John Misty you want to jump up for joy one minute and drop down to your knees and cry the next. There is something deeply sad in his sardonic art folk. As provocateur, as social commentator Joshua Tillman may of (for me) hit his epic moment on David Letterman were his performance of Bored In The U.S.A absolutely floored me. The song skewers and questions our over medicated dull headed single focused desire for the American dream, organized religion and more. The embedded laugh track twisted the knife.

As much as I adore Tillman's aesthetic and the questions he asks, his latest upload "The Memo" cuts me both ways. As he seems to deride "boy bands" or fabricated bands / art I got the same feeling I got when I watched the Banksy directed film "Exit Through The Gift Shop" which explored similar themes questioning the concept of art itself, whether it be an earnest creation or simply a hoax.

By the end of that totally engaging documentary (or mockumentary) I was not entirely sure if Banksy had pulled the wool over my eyes. Does Banksy consider his art as a hoax? Is he even one person? The movie hinges on Banksy unintentionally creating a monster who becomes an artist while basically winging it. Copying others art, riffing ideas and having an small army of other creative types helping him create his art. By pretending to be a so called artist he has become one and his "fake" art is eaten up by those ravenous art buyers who are eager to buy the newest thing.

It seems to me that in The Memo, Tillman is asking similar questions. He also fully and deeply skewers our narcissistic internet age, our obsession with ourselves via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Ultimately it feels to me that he is always asking the collective us to look inward at our moral core as opposed to our materialistic (out) side. Soul searching is all well and good. It truly is but sometimes I cannot tell if Tillman desire to comment on society at large is becoming a bit stale as to feel disingenuous.  After all, if art is subjective then a Rembrandt has no more value than a Banksy or even your average kindergarten crayoned drawing of a house and family. And while Tillman throws barbs at our own narcissism no one seems more self aware of his image and how he markets it. Not that there is anything wrong with that and I am sure Father John Misty is perfectly happy deriding his own art.

In any event, I love what the man does. The Memo is snarky and thought provoking and depressing as hell. I love it, love Father John Misty and also love when he creates artful songs that don't necessarily comment on society at large. In the end maybe it's all bullshit anyway and if art and entertainment are the opiates of the masses, Father John Misty is one of our most interesting drug dealers.

Robb Donker

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