Damn, but that Dylan ad for Victoria’s Secret is HILARIOUS. I’ve complained for years that Dylan had lost his sense of humor. He hasn’t done a good “Rainy Day Woman” or “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” in decades, but this ad makes up for a lot of it.
Look at his meaningful scowl for the supermodel in underwear and angel wings. Dylan IS the master thespian. Acting? Genius!
Yet, this silly ad has really and truly hurt the feelings of a lot of people. They’ve been somehow let down. Dylan has sold out.
Now Dylan is a whore. He’s in it for the money. He sold his soul to the corporate machine.
I don’t understand how, exactly. Is there anyone who thinks for a second that Dylan will somehow pull his punches on the next album to avoid offending a sponsor, or something like that? Dylan?
First, what does this phrase “selling out” even mean, and why exactly is it bad?
What exactly constitutes this terrible crime of selling out? What are singers and songwriters allowed to do to “legitimately” make a dollar on their music, and when does it become an offense against the proletariat, or something?
Is it “selling out” when a singer takes money to play a live concert? If he takes requests from the audience, does that constitute selling out? “FREE BIRD!!!!” Maybe you were going to play some song you wrote yourself, but gave in to the demands of the paying public to play a familiar cover. Is that bad?
Apparently, making an album is allowed, and NOT considered selling out, even if you manage to actually get paid. Are you selling out, though, if you take a suggestion from the record company to bring in some-and-such producer, or to cover some-and-such song?
Or perhaps the record company absolutely cannot have any legitimate say about the content of the record. Is it “selling out” though if you let them recommend an album title or cover photo?
Have you “sold out” if you play Saturday Night Live? Musical guests are identified on-air as sponsored by Budweiser.
Is it “selling out” if you accept tour sponsorship, and print the sponsor’s name on ticket stubs and a couple of banners hanging in the halls? What if you said the sponsor’s name from the stage? That used to be routine practice. The Light Crust Dough Boys were apparently named for a sponsor back in the day.
Is it selling out to do merchandise? Is it OK to sell t-shirts or baseball caps? What about TOYS in the bands image? Is it selling out when Alice Cooper licenses dolls and sculptures? Comic books?
Or is it OK to take money for your work only if you really “need” it? Someone who is broke might have justification for doing an ad, but someone like Dylan who is obviously a multi-millionaire has no moral justification for doing an ad. Is that the problem? How much money can you be making and still qualify for an approved exemption?
Who gets to approve these exemptions, and decide what those rules are in the first place? All I know is that SOMEBODY needs to decide how singers can and can’t legitimately make a buck.
Obviously from these comments, I’m not putting much stock in these cheap anti-capitalist sentiments about “selling out.” They strike me as mostly just pinko nonsense.
I personally tend to judge such things based on my own aesthetic assessment. I just HATED the damned California Raisins desecrating the image of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” I just hated seeing them foul one of the central classic songs of the Motown label with these dumb, thoughtless, soulless claymation raisins.
Likewise, I don’t know that I’d holler “sell-out,” but I’d be un-thrilled to see “Blowin’ in the Wind” pimped out to sell fans or air conditioners. I’d probably be a little irritated if Sam Cooke was heard singing “A Change Is Going to Come” in a diaper commercial.
I might, however, appreciate the irony if they used the Nirvana song to in fact advertise Teen Spirit deodorant.
Most pop star ads don’t make much impression on me either way, but some strike me as absolutely positive. This Dylan ad uses and exposes a decent lesser known song to a beautifully dry comic effect, for example. There was a lemonade ad that made great use of Randy Newman’s obscure classic “Dayton, Ohio 1903.”
I also really liked the Kohl’s department store ad last summer with Jonathan Richman’s “Ice Cream Man” which basically just illustrated the song, with kids trailing an ice cream man through a nice summer neighborhood scene. It was aesthetically pleasing to me, like a simple short music video and no heavy-handed sales message. It was just a feel good thing. [I note that Mr. Richman himself specifically says he did NOT approve of this usage of his music.]
All in all, though, I recognize that what I like and don’t like aesthetically are not particularly moral judgments. I’m not particularly morally offended even by the uber-annoying Raisins.
If nothing else, I figure we don’t have much room to bitch about artists making money off songs they wrote by placing them in commercials while we’re busy downloading them for free on the internet. They got to make a living somehow.