February 25, 2004
Grey Tuesday, Reconsidered
Sippey.typepad.com offers a rather snide dismissal of Grey Tuesday.
Needless to say, his judgement is immediately called into question when he deems The Grey Album "unlistenable" (I do agree it is overrated. But then again so is Prince's Black Album.. overrated due to its backstory but far from wack). And he doesn't make it very clear, in the original post, what inspires his disdain for Grey Tuesday.. Does he believe that a protest's relevance is best gauged by the amount of effort it takes to join, and he considers this one too easy? I'm pretty sure I disagree with that.
But in the comments he does offer something more substantive:
The acts of protest being undertaken today speak more to the issue of *distribution* (making it easier to find these works) than it does to the issue of sampling and recombinatorial art. A more effective protest would be to encourage website owners to create their own remixes -- integrating and transforming artifacts from popular culture in order to make something new, on their own.
His proposal would be far less inclusive, as most people don't have the means to make such a remix (or at least to make one that doesn't suck). But he makes a very good point, Grey Tuesday's protest did confuse two distinct and different issues: Dangermouse's right as an artist to reinterpret copyrighted material within his own work, and our right to distribute and download copyrighted material as consumers. They made it too easy for EMI to dodge discussion of the first issue by conflating it with the second.
I'd also agree that Grey Tuesday, by itself, doesn't amount to much. But to paraphrase what I was saying here, every journey is made up of small steps. Grey Tuesday (like the Grey Album) has been a highly successful publicity stunt, and brought lots of people to downhillbattle's website. The question now is what they will do with this newfound attention.. can they keep moving past that first step, or is this the extent of their vision? It may well turn out to be the latter, but I don't think it's fair to poo-poo their efforts just yet.