Of course you’re right but sometimes I wonder if it’s gotten too accessible. Where will it lead? How can something new and exciting, groundbreaking, come along for future generations?
If you trust nature, if you trust the higher laws of nature and the universe, nature will correct itself. And no matter what we did to ourselves, what we did to our planet, nature will balance that out. For example, if you’re completely dying out on white bread, white sugar, pastas, potatoes in your cultural food group and then you’re looking at material like all these Seth Rogen films, if that’s your cultural diet then obviously you’re going to end up with cancer, speaking. But if you’re eating raw, organic foods and looking at material that’s more stimulating and has that level of insight…the best experience of last year was definitely Slumdog Millionaire. For me, this year it’s Up.
Did you say Up? I loved it!
IA: Yeah! I thought it was brilliant. At first I thought it was just this Pixar, mass consumer’s film, but then I thought the real story to that film is so human. I loved Up, more than anything. I’ve seen pretty much everything that’s come out and for the most part it’s just inconsistent and eye candy. I think about my kids as well – I have two teenagers – and it’s really interesting to see what they’ll ingest in the culture. They will love something like Pineapple Express, but then they hear the White album and they’re absolutely blown, destroyed by that. My fourteen year old is obsessed with The Beatles and Bob Marley. And because of Mozart, Van Gogh, because of the ability of the artist to articulate exactly every level and aspect of an experience in a way that communicates, in a way that is compelling, in a way that draws you in, there’s subtext in there. Let’s put it that way. That’s what we’re missing. The subtext isn’t there. We’ve refined our cultural products. We’ve done the same thing we’ve done with our foods. We’ve taken all the nutrients out. All the nutrients have been extracted and what is fed is the sugar, the high fructose instant sugar on your tongue.
I have this theory about America. In the fifties, white bread and white sugar. That’s why America is nearly 90 trillion dollars in debt: obsession with sugar and sugar culture. And that’s what the rest of the world wants. They all want that sugar and it’s the people who control the sugar that control the show. If we change our diet, go back to those thing that look a bit lofty or intellectual and get away from the so-called hipsters (which to me aren’t hipsters, they’re just the new conservatives). Like the students in France who protested a couple years ago. They weren’t protesting to stop the war in Iraq. They weren’t protesting against the destruction of the environment. They weren’t protesting against AIDS in Africa. They were protesting for job security. ‘Mommy and Daddy, we want in. We’re scared. We want job security. A sign of the times. Me me me me me me me. Where’s mine there’s the billboard I want mine. I want my iPod. I want my music now. In fact, I don’t want to see the film; I want to see the trailer.’ You see they get the video games and want to codes immediately so they can burn through it. The fallout of that though is that it’s sixty bucks for a video game so money that used to go to music and film are now going to video games. Then we’ve got things like Grand Theft Auto, which is almost pornographic in its presentation of men beating women. That’s entertainment? Yet Pitchfork Media is still rating things at 5.3 and 7.2. Blah blah blah, fucking who cares? Get out there and contribute. We need contributors in our culture now. The attitude should be, “Give me a shovel. Where do I start digging?” Not like ‘Where’s my gratification? I want mine. I want my MTV!’ I’ll tell you what, I want my MTV to play music again.
Yeah, remember that?
That’s what we grew up to. And also, for those of us who are going around talking in nostalgic terms, we have to check ourselves. All that nostalgic talk doesn’t serve anything. When I sit down with people sometimes they go, ‘Well, it used to be this way and used to be that way.’ Get over it. Because right now is all we’ve got and this is what’s going on right now, so engage. It’s your job as an artist or a cultural observer to engage in this right now. Yeah, 78 RPMs used to be fantastic; I like black and white films without dialogue in them. But that doesn’t serve anything. You’re not present. As an artist you’ve got to be present. Great artists are present. They define their times and reflect their times.
But there’s a paradox, isn’t there? If you’re worrying over being present you’re not living in the moment.
Right. You’re too busy trying to define the experience as opposed to having the experience. And we live in a culture where everybody wants everything defined. And American culture, with all respect – I mean, I consider myself to be a North American more than I do a European since I’ve grown up in North American since I was eleven years old, even have the British accent – but it’s always the concern with what’s the potential damage caused. What’s the potential downside? So, what I’m saying is there’s always the fear factor or potential downside factor that will drive things. For example, with making a film it’s thinking, ‘Will the audience like this?’ So immediately, at the very beginning of an artistic expression you’re concerned about the audience’s response, the commerciality of it, the bankability of it, which destroys the artistic vision straightaway. Point in case, I was at The Rose Bar in New York and was introduced to a young guy who was making a documentary as well.
My documentary, Conquest, is subtitled Sexual Violence in American Indian Genocide, talking about genocide in Native Americans through a feminine perspective, all the way up to present day. Then it deals with issues of femininity and the fact that women have to be at the forefront of our culture. It’s time. Men have fucked the planet up for millennia. It’s imperative that we flip from patriarchal to matriarchal. We’ve got to do it. Anyway, that’s the point of my documentary. So I was introduced to these two young guys and I kind of recognized one’s face and he said, ‘I’m making a film as well, a documentary. It’s about trust fund kids in New York. What’s your documentary about?’ I said, ‘It’s about the fact that we’ve reached this point in our society, culture, history, where we need to flip from patriarchal to matriarchal awareness. We need to be a more nature-based religion. Our most important resource on the planet isn’t fossil fuels, it’s women. It’s women’s insight.’ He goes, ‘Do you think people will watch it? People might not be interested in that.’ I said, ‘For a start, you’re twenty years younger than me. Before you even enter a room if you think people aren’t going to like you when you enter, why even go into that room? Why even bother with the journey? Do you start a journey with the intention of getting to a destination? Just put one foot in front of the other and see what happens. That should never be a condition of an artist or expressive person. That’s the courage of an artist. Go into these places that might scare you and be rejected and tell the truth.’
So he walks away and my friend says, ‘Do you know who that was? That’s one of the Kennedy’s kids.’ Well, the Kennedys are supposed to be the height of American aristocracy and that’s his viewpoint. I’m thinking, wow, that’s the viewpoint of that sector of society. And I know that’s not the viewpoint of all of them. The New York Times ran an article a week ago, front page, about the fact that the most important – actually, I’ve got it right here. Here we go, point in case. The New York Times magazine: ‘Why Women’s Rights Are the Cause of Our Time’ by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. And there’s a beautiful picture of a beautiful African woman on the cover. It talks about Afghanistan and, again, it’s all external, nothing to do with the United States, all exotic locations. With all respect to Africa, the idea of Harvard graduates and liberals going from the United States and fixing another country’s problems without understanding the language, the culture, the context, their food, really what their culture and economic experience is because, unless you’ve lived there or been brought there you can’t really understand the full weight of these other cultures.
Whereby, in the United States of America, the same conditions exist in indigenous, aboriginal communities, Native American communities. Pine Ridge Reservation, for example, is the poorest community in the United States and at the heart of that culture is a feminine, nature-based culture. That to me, is the greatest resource that we have that we’re not exploiting. It’s twofold. One aspect is that we go in and rebuild these communities and extract the cultural knowledge. It will be the bond that begins to heal, really heal, a culture. That’s going to be a holy war. It’s essentially a pagan culture, right? It’s also a feminine culture: the worship of femininity and the Divine Feminine and the goddess, the power of your birth and insight and the sense of community that comes with women. There it is, right there in the United States of America! And also, I think if the rest of the world sees American picking up our own trash – it will be an amazing thing when Africa turns its head around and sees America picking up its own garbage – and the sign says, on the United States, ‘SITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION.’ We’re dealing with our own. Sorry we can’t be the world’s resource, right now we’re picking up our own trash.