Why Are People Grudgeful?
Sure, they made one of my favorite albums of the year so far, but - not to put too fine a point on it - Crystal Castles can go to Hell and stay there. Short version of the story: Crystal Castles finds a flyer with an image of Madonna with a black eye. The image is a painting by Trevor Brown, a well-known and somewhat controversial artist (among many other things, he paints images of injured women, children, etc; many of his images give off a bizarrely sexualized glow and resist easy interpretation). The band then uses this image on the cover or an early 7", and on their t-shirts besides. Trevor Brown finds out he's been involuntarily conscripted to do cover art for a band whose record he hasn't even heard, and is understandably pissed. He contacts the band and tells them they need to pay up. Meanwhile, the band has sold out the pressing and is still moving shirts. They offer to throw him a one-time-only we-get-to-keep-using-the-image-forever bone, but never actually send him a dime. To me the worst part, though, is the armchair market analysts on Mr. Brown's comments threads, who tell him he should be grateful for the exposure.
Grateful for the exposure! If somebody robs me, and I get my name in the paper when a story about the robbery of my house runs, am I to feel "grateful for the exposure"? I hate to be all "people are so damned stupid," but people can be awfully stupid, you will have to admit. Nicking an image for a flyer or in collage is one thing; appropriating generally-available icons is yet another; clip-art is a third. Standing far, far away from all this is stealing outright the work of a fellow artist and then seeking a blanket all-future-uses permission from him before you pay him for ripping him off. When it comes to ownership of artistic work, people like to pretend that everything's complicated; some things are complicated, for sure. This one isn't. It's a version of plagiarism, with the added ugliness of being ungraceful when caught at it.
Very disappointed by this band - I suppose I should know better than to expect much from music people; back in the right-thinking middle ages, musician was a hair above chamberpot-cleaner on the Great Chain of Desirable Jobs. Still. I loved their album, and I wish they weren't being pricks.
When I tell you that Mr. Brown's blog is not safe for work, this is what I mean: its sidebar image is of a winged girl in black latex piloting an enormous black phallus as if it were an aircraft. That is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Trevor Brown. Forewarned being forearmed, then, here's Trevor Brown to tell you this disappointing story himself.
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