Rituals cross over.

by waxbanks

Unintentional hilarity: Greil Marcus writes in October 1984 about the rejected PBS documentary Seventeen, in which (among other events) a high-school kid’s best friend dies and the kid and his girlfriend and her mom request ‘Against the Wind’ from a local radio station, which then plays (whether or not by request) in the next scene. In my copy of Ranters & Crowd Pleasers, Marcus’s book of essays and articles about postpunk, the part of the column in which he then makes fun of (excuse me: ‘criticizes’) the kids and the song for being hopelessly inauthentic and disconnected from ‘reality’ takes up more than two and a half pages. It is a trade paperback, 6×9, and the print is sized normally for the medium. The words go like this:

…with the first notes of ‘Against the Wind’ Lynn reacts as if a dedication were marking merely her birthday, or a six-month boyfriend anniversary — ‘Crank it!’ — nothing more…

It becomes obvious that the actuality of a friend’s death is being sealed by the radio. The event cannot become real until it is sanctioned by an agency of representation, until it is removed from those who have experienced i and represented to them, until they can perceive it as a representation and then act it out as a performance scripted by people they have never met.

…The whole complex of entreaties and responses has been so fabulously removed from anything directly lived you might begin to wonder what would have happened if, when Keith phoned up the radio station, the line had been busy.

Beneath the essay appears this helpful explanation:

Artforum, October 1984