where the performer is demystified

ok, ian curtis while fronting post-punk mancunian legends joy division hung himself in a fit of existential rage and despondency. in a stroke of wanton wastefulness his fate and that of his band was sealed. ironically his band attained a level of mysticism that they would never have dreamed of in a thousand lifetimes if he had towed the party line and gone over to america to conquer the college circuits.

combining the mannered monotony of curtis’ vocal stylings and the bloodless throb of the rhythm section, they carved beautiful things out of great big slabs of darkness. sucked dry of american influences, they offered a tantalizing vision of a cold and grey european cityscape, sexy to the extreme despite of its minimalistic and grainy veneer. would they have been any less relevant if curtis had lived out a ripe old age of embarrassing world tours and liaisons with underage groupies?

here lies the question of whether the external packaging and baggage of a band can be separated from the actual creative output. i used to think that it can, but as age catches up with me and cynicism attains adulthood within, i begin to doubt it. perhaps it is the current atmosphere of the music industry (there i have said it) of quick cash-in and staged fame-chasing that has soured it for me. would the teeny-boppers buy justin timberlake’s latest album if he wore a brown paper bag over his head? you are only as good as you look.

even taking on the role of an outsider, which joy division exemplified, is just that; a role. no one can truly be who they are when put on a stage under the sweltering heat of the limelight. the reason why someone gets on to a stage is to try to raise himself above everybody else, to break out from the everyday. look i am better than you! what matters is what they do with their time. and of course how they look.

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