A friend (or should I say "friend") posted a link to this video on Facebook the other day. I have to admit, I found it pretty damn amusing, if a little disturbing--I'm not sure I buy the dad's claim that he shot it because his son was scared about going to the dentist, and he wanted to have a "before" and "after" tape to convince the kid that everything was fine.
Anyway, the ethical discussion is for another day. What interested me is that the very next day, a blog I occasionally read posted the video below, which synchs some of the audio from the "original" to...a 1970s picture book about kittens.
Some of the juxtapositions are funny, others not so much. When I saw this, though, the word that sprung to mind immediately was "random." Is this what them crazy kids are talkin' about these days when they describe something, positively, even joyfully, as "random"? And will I sound tiresomely middle-aged if I say that random just isn't enough for me, aesthetically?
I get the whole postmodern pastiche thing--playing with copies of copies of trivial but somehow iconic stuff, like Duchamp's 1917 "Fountain," pictured at left. But when my students describe something as "random," the pleasure seems to be in the utter meaninglessness of whatever they're talking about, its lack of a reference point.
"Random" seems to have become the aesthetic for a certain generation. But what does random mean? Is random the aesthetic that fills the vacuum when "camp," "kitsch," and all the other self-referential, post-ironic modes are exhausted? Thoughts, please!