Ape vs. Good Charlotte

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The new cover of street fashion magazine Smart (miniature picture below) shows “ultra-hip” “fashion” “mogul” Nigo with… embarrassing American “punk” “rock” “band” Good Charlotte?!? This cover alone proves about 80% of the points I try to make on my blog. I’ll give it to Nigo for going international and “chillin'” with Jay-Z, but what should I think about a Japanese magazine embracing the shame of the American pop music scene two years after the U.S.?

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

10 Responses

  1. Rrose Selavy Says:

    I would have to agree with you 100% on this one!

  2. r. Says:

    david,
    what SHOULD you think?
    think the same thing that you thought when you were in to BAPE back in america and it was already 2 or 3 years old here in japan–in other words PLAYED in full.
    even with the internet, fasion will always suffer from jet-lag.
    no as for the ‘coolness-gap’ factor…sometime majors teaming up with minors is fun, but i do argree with you in this case that NIGO isn’t being such a clever simian.
    it WOULD have been way cooler of him to go even LOWER on the cooless totem-pole and just pop into channing’s town, give a bunch of BAPE shit to the teens in the raWkin’ band sabertooth, and change the INDIE scene in some piss-ant little college town.
    it’s just that NIGO doesn’t see that the lower you go down on the coolness-totem pole, the uncooler you get–TO A POINT. from that point on, things get cooler and cooler, and also less populated by hangers-on.
    whatever. even though you DID write your grad. thesis on him, i think you have bigger fish to fry than this has-been ape guy, so don’t let him make a monkey out of you.
    best,
    r.

  3. sid Says:

    Fashion and trends do have a lag, but Good Charlotte was always embarrassing and never a punk band, even when they were big in America first.
    (shiver)

  4. r. Says:

    sid,
    right! i guess i was wanting david to just come right out and say it. they suck!
    from now on we can equate NIGO’s cool-factor as: his ability to supress japanese magazines like this from getting back over to america and totally bursting the bubble of his image as a ‘hipster’…as if americans don’t know that he is dope-on-a-rope already.
    again, i think what we are seeing here is a kind of patronization of japanese culture by more international cultures. (this is the flip-side of blind worship, and the two are always found together.) the idea (found very often these days in america pro sports and european soccer teams) goes something like this: this guy doesn’t TOTALLY suck, he can make the cut (play on the team, make cool duds, whatever) but there are other people that we want in this position. however, if we figure out his REsale value BACK to his own country after the ‘magic’ of america (or europe) ‘rubs off’ on him, we stand to make a pretty penny (in merchandising or ‘trickle-down cool’ or whatever), so let’s just give him a token position on board.
    don’t NIGO have an american friend with enough sense to tell him something like: “yo man, these fuckers are SO yesterday!”
    but the real fun would be finding out that in fact he DID have this friend, did believe what he said, and went thru with this cheezy team up anyway.
    if you could prove tha marxy, you could prove economic and cultural de-evolution of that once-proud ape.

  5. porandojin Says:

    yea, i suppose for the Japanese it is just an ‘ornament’ and for westerners good joke … next time Nigo will have laughs about it ‘chillin’ with Pharrel /Farrel?/ and his gang … He’s smart yo …;]

  6. marxy Says:

    I think the idea of “jet-lag” is very 20th century. Don’t you all understand that with the internet, this cover – which otherwise would never see the light of day – has just been introduced to at least 500 people, most of whom are interested in Japanese street fashion at some level. I don’t want to overestimate my own personal influence on the world or even my peer group, but the ability to profit off the lag – cultural arbitrage as I call it – is eroding naturally.

    but the real fun would be finding out that in fact he DID have this friend, did believe what he said, and went thru with this cheezy team up anyway.
    if you could prove tha marxy, you could prove economic and cultural de-evolution of that once-proud ape

    The reason I’m pretty pessimistic about Ape here in Japan is that Nigo used to call all the shots with the media. With this cover, he absolutely didn’t go out of his way to team up with Good Charlotte. This got assigned, or is a really cynical attempt at an Ape-punk-crossover (Dumb melodic punk is really big at the moment.) Any way around it, it’s a low.

  7. r. Says:

    david,

    you said: I think the idea of “jet-lag” is very 20th century.

    and i say: i agree. globally speaking, ‘jet-lag’ is over. locally speaking (i.e. here in japan) jet lag is still the functioning system for two different reasons.

    1. japanese kids get most of their info from either a) i-mode or b) ‘style’ mags, both of which are pretty pretty provincial, even though they claim to ‘cover’ the global scene with authority.

    2. when it comes to ‘forgien cool’ most japanese people a) are waiting to be TOLD what cool is by someone else (just like most of the kids in the rest of the world) and b) they have very poor critical skills (lack of practice).

    Don’t you all understand that with the internet, this cover – which otherwise would never see the light of day – has just been introduced to at least 500 people, most of whom are interested in Japanese street fashion at some level. I don’t want to overestimate my own personal influence on the world or even my peer group, but the ability to profit off the lag – cultural arbitrage as I call it – is eroding naturally.

    so that is probably why guys like NIGO can still (barely) turn a profit here in japan. he feeds off of these ‘captive native consumers’, double dealing them in a sense. keep in mind that NIGO actually IS a clever ape, and that he DOES know that that band (whatever the fuck their name is) sucks, but as long as the magazine that he is appearing with them on the cover is a JAPANESE one, he remains ‘unbusted’. i’m sure he would never appear in some kind of american style magazine with these guys on the cover (first of all, that band of puds would never BE on the conver, right?). i guess if two drowning rats are alone in the ocean of culture, they cling to one another and see what they can latch on to together…

  8. marxy Says:

    Your’re right about jet-lag from one side: Japanese kids are totally beholden to their Japanese language, centrally organized media to import ideas and legitimize them.

    Ape, however, is bigger than just a product for the Japanese market, and they will have more trouble containing information flows coming out Japan than coming in.

    The big problem for the Ape team at this point is that his one remaining power source – albeit a big one – is cachet with magazines. Nigo no longer has street cred and can only sell to prefectural youngsters dependent upon the magazines. If there were something to replace Ape, the magazines would probably move on, but none of the new brands have anywhere near the narrative as Ape does. The Zombies were a good band, but they never got anywhere close to the story of the Beatles. Same problem in the Japanese culture market today.

  9. Chris_B Says:

    so some has been non-entity band is on the cover of a japanese magaine. anyone else ever think “big in japan” is a back handed compliment?

  10. Jesper Says:

    I saw the Bape/GC t-shirt a while ago and thought it was a bad joke/fake. I guess not…