Lately, I find myself revisiting the ideas of the books I read on literary criticism and post-structuralist philosophy (authors like Barthes, Derrida, Foucault. Terry Eagleton's "Literary Theory" is a great starting point) in the late 80s and early 90s quite frequently. The idea of the meaning as unfixed and unstable and "the text" as being a creation formed from the connections between author, reader and other "texts" seem particularly relevant in contemporary, digital pop-culture.
The most peculiar piece of recent pop postmodernity has to be the Burger King "Spongebob" television ads. The ad features the resurrected, retro-nostalgic "king" mascot performing a musical incantation that mashes the worlds of hip-hop and and children's television. There is a 2 minute version but I find the short, 15 second version the most interesting. Has anyone ever packed more fractured meaning and references into 15 seconds? The spot plays like a kaleidoscope of referential shards. (It's awesome and you know it.)
I watched JCVD, a French film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as himself, a broke, has-been actor who gets caught up in a post office robbery. It's very good and oddly, fascinating. Towards the end of the film he floats up to the ceiling and engages the audience directly in a lengthy monologue about himself and his persona. Clever, French, excellently shot, SUBTITLED, crime film, starring Van Damme, playing himself... not much else needs to be said.
The blur between reality and fiction is now a normative feature of the pop-culture landscape. The retrograde glamour that accompanies the unspoken subtext on the lives of the actors in films like The Wrester, Balboa, and Rambo (and Michael Jackson's comeback, if it happens) is a large part of the spectacle and appeal. The twists of fate shown in these faces are arresting stories unto themselves. I like to them as visual press releases.
I was at the bookstore and I picked up a copy of Michel Foucault's book "This is Not a Pipe". The book itself is about signs and meaning. The image on the cover is a painting by Magritte. It features a painting of a pipe and painted text blowing which reads, in french, "This is Not a Pipe". A staff member must have placed a Post-it on the cover to resolve questions and uncertainties about what the book is about and what category it properly belonged to.
I thought it was funny.