When will Conquest be released?
Well, that’s in production in that we’re putting all of the interviews together. With it being a documentary, we have to build these relationships. We can’t just walk into a place and say, ‘Hi we’re making a film and tell me about the time you were sexually assaulted and thank you, that’s great, annnnnd cut.’ You have to go in there and build relationships before the camera even rolls. You have to build trust first. And with Moorish Dreams, the cameras are rolling on that even though I’m funding it myself, but my director is in there with a camera right now. Soderbergh shot the whole Che movie with a very small crew and you look at that as a body of work and you’re like, ‘What? Damn!’ You’d better get good actors and make sure the script is dialed in. We’ve worked on the script and casting. We’re part of a generation of artist who has the tools to do this without waiting for Daddy to say it’s okay. I think, for artists, if the tools are available go ahead and use them.
A lot of it has to do with just thinking creatively and using what you have available. We’re such a disposable society, that things are discarded that can be made into something new and beautiful every day.
Sure, look what Rauschenberg did with stuff. One of my favorite cultural indulgences is eBay. I go on eBay to find cultural artifacts that have been recycled. They’re just sitting there. It’s an incredible resource for books, records, clothes, instruments, recording devices that I can’t get. You can get yourself your own film studio for relatively no money. I can get on there and buy Russian film cameras that are phenomenal and work incredibly well for little or no money. Old books that are out of print, original artwork, for relatively no money, things that will really enhance your life. And things that are pretty much obsolete, like cassette players. There’s so much cassette stuff out there and I get on eBay and find an original Walkman for thirty bucks.
One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Los Angeles, when I spent three hours a day in a car, I’d never listen to the radio, but would just put in book tapes, all day long. Joseph Campbell all day long. Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Nietzsche, all day long, whatever I could get my hands on. Novels. I’d listen to Derek Jacobi reading Stephen Pressfield’s Peloponnesian Wars. Three hours a day and I’m educated. It’s a university, in my car! You know how, you get into a taxi every so often and the guy has the radio cranked? First thing say is, ‘Can you turn it off, please?’ In my household we have a DVD player and TV but I don’t have cable. When I’m in a hotel room, I immediately cover up the television screen. I carry books with me and stick my nose in that.
TV is an evil in itself, an awful big soapbox for me to stand up on.
[Lowers voice] It’s the great Satan! The apathy is amazing. Having the insight after touring the United States for over twenty-five years, I’ve watched the culture become dumber and just plain stupid. I love that slogan ‘You can’t fix stupid.’ It’s so true. I’ve been in every single state except for Montana and Wyoming, which I’m dying to see. I’m probably going to end up in Montana. I don’t know, I’ve just got visions of living in the mountains on my own. Having said that, you watch this cultural pollution and how it’s affected people’s quality of life – badly dressed, overweight, undereducated, consumerism.
Are you talking about children or adults?
Both! Armies of obese people dressed in polyester clothing. God.
It’s happened quickly, though.
It’s happened incredibly quickly. It’s really only happened over the past ten years, and you could see it coming. You know the TV show Madmen. A friend of mine said I should really watch it for the cultural relevance in it and how we got to where we’re at right now and the advent of the advertising executive and how that became a really important part of the machine that started selling us shit and us consuming shit and turning into shit. So I got the first series and watched it. I wasn’t interested in the relationships at home, all I was interested in was the conversations they had about marketing products. I think the point being is that we can see the correlation between advertising, product placement and enhancing products. So you’re selling lifestyle items and it’s always with the attractive person, doing incredibly well, looking incredibly healthy and using the product. In theory, by buying that product you’ll have the same lifestyle or looks or glamour or whatever, but the reality isn’t there. I was with Trent Reznor one day and he said, ‘I’d have a fucking six pack too if I didn’t write my own songs.’
To get a body like that costs a lot of money and time and energy, which we all don’t have. [Laughs] They’re selling a complete façade. If I was put in government tomorrow, one of the first things I would do is go to these advertising boards and tell them they have to advertise their product exactly as it is. You have to show exactly what it does. You have to show its ingredients and what the product does. If it’s dog food, it’s dog food. It’s not some, like, sexually frustrated vaguely attractive housewife leaning over the dog with her ample bosom while Fido munches away at his steak. It’s fucking dog food. It’s not like some half-naked woman advertising a car; it’s a fucking car. There’s the car. You’re not sell it to me to drive through the Italian Alps. You’re stuck in traffic. I mean, that’s the way it should be. I mean, I’m not saying women shouldn’t go out there and be attractive, absolutely not, but there’s a sense of propriety in terms of balance and dignity. I was at a show once and this woman came up to me with her husband and said, ‘Will you sign my breasts?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not, madam! That would be offensive.’ She said, ‘To me? Oh I’m not offended.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘offensive to me. It’s offensive for you to even ask me that. It’s not appropriate.’ And her husband’s going, ‘Why don’t you sign her breast?’ I have respect for myself, first of all, and you should have respect for your own body, not objectify yourself in that way. Then I realized, all of a sudden, that I was involved in a conversation that was going nowhere.