Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Brothers, Sisters, Can't You See? The Future's Owned by R.J. Reynolds


Throwing a fit when one doesn't get a front row seat at a fashion show is the kind of behavior that we commonly associate with royalty, celebrities, socialites, and Lenny Kravitz. But in a world where an English Prince is actually trying to fight in Iraq and Sean fucking Penn is apparently the most charismatic anti-war spokesperson that the left can drag in front of a television screen, it probably makes sense that Geordon Nicol, one of the founding members of New York's (in)famous DJ trio Misshapes, demanded the best seats in the house at a recent G Star fashion show and threatened to leave if he didn't get his way. After all, in the eyes of Madison Avenue, Nicol is one of the hippest people on the planet, and he seems to be well aware of it.

And really, why shouldn't he have a little attitude? Think about it: if you'd read a Village Voice article that compared your presence in the downtown New York scene to those of Larry Levan, Fab 5 Freddy and Andy Warhol among others, you would probably feel entitled to take full advantage of your 15 minutes too. Its undeniable that the Misshapes have had a noticeable impact on what we'll call "hipster culture" (for lack of a better term) over the past couple of years, and if comparing them to Larry Levan seems more than a bit ridiculous to you, you might want to consider the number of 18-24 year olds around the country that know who Misshapes are and compare that to the total number of people that knew who Larry Levan was during his first two years at Paradise Garage. This has everything to do with media technology and nothing to do with musical innovation to be sure, and the long term cultural significance of emo hair and Depeche Mode revivals is questionable at best, but the result is unchanged: Misshapes have built a gigantic and loyal following in one of the world's most exciting cities, and not just any hipster dumbasses can pull something like that off.

Just look at what they're up to these days if you don't believe me. After packing houses for several years with their regular DJ nights in New York, curating the music at just about every major party during New York's fashion week, and sharing decks with Madonna and a slew of other high powered celebrities over the past few months, Misshapes are cashing in on downtown cool as they embark on their first ever national tour, bringing the Lower East Side to us Red State folks just as Gawker's anti-Misshapes coup d'etat has started to drive the trio's stock price down with the Brooklyn/Houston- Ludlow hipsters that put them on the map in the first place. Of course, it would be far too easy to completely dismiss Misshapes and those that emulate them as clueless hipsters, and it would be incorrect to say that their sets aren't exciting and highly entertaining at times. But with all their lucrative corporate tie-ins and friends in high places, it also must be noted that the trio has been able to milk the current incarnation of 00's hipster cool more effectively and notoriously than almost anyone else on the face of the planet (other than Vice).

Take their upcoming set this Saturday at the Lizard Lounge in Dallas as an example. Normally, a well known DJ can pull in quite a nice cover at a large established dance venue like the Lizard Lounge, but Misshapes didn't come all the way to Dallas to take your money. No, they're just here to chill out and throw a huge free party with their ultra hip friends over at R.J. Reynolds, and if you want to go, all you have to do is get an account and RSVP (aka "track down your local rep") over at Camel's website. But wait a minute. Since when are the old southern white men that run R.J. Reynolds "ultra-hip," you ask? Well, it might surprise you to learn that they practically invented the term, at least in the parlance of our times (get it?).

Not to get all "truth.com" on your ass, but a 1994 internal document produced by Camel's marketing department has been cited by Naomi Klein and others as the first document of its kind to make use of the contemporary idea of a "hipster" to describe a marketing demographic that the brand was having trouble reaching. In this rather humorous report, the marketers describe scenes of urban young adults scoring smokes at cool bars as they talk all cool and do various other cool things. Here's an example of one of the scenarios the document lays out:

Saturday night. Smoke filled night club. 1am. Nirvana blares through the sound system. The cigarette machine is broken. Lisa's looking to bum a smoke. She saunters up to the bar in her ripped Levi's and vintage motorcycle jacket and looks at the bartender. "Manny, got an extra cigarette?" Manny reaches into the chest pocket of his black tee shirt and pulls out a Camel.

You get the idea. And if you think it sounds like they were way off on what was hip in 1994, all you have to do is go rent a copy of Clerks in order to see that RJR was pretty much right on the money with this one. As the document goes on to state, Camel started an aggressive campaign 13 years ago to get to these cool kids and link the Camel brand image to whatever happens to be hip at any given time. One look at their Website (or a quick flashback of the Camel sponsored Ladytron show at Hailey's a couple months ago) reveals that they've been pretty successful at doing just that. They currently sponsor all kinds of events all over the country that deliver consumable hipster culture to people in all kinds of famously unhip locations with little or no direct sales pitch involved, other than a friendly reminder that Joe Camel is the motherfucker that told you about all this cool stuff in the first place, dipshit.

What does this all mean? Who knows. The ideas behind branding and its effects on target markets are certainly debatable and mostly immeasurable, and we're certainly not going to sit here and lecture you about corporations and society and why its so wrong to dance. After all, the Misshapes party will probably be pretty fun, and we might even show up to it ourselves (I've already contacted MY Camel rep, have you?) It just seems funny that Misshapes, who have become a perfect example of savvy hipster self-marketers, are teaming up with Camel, the people that just might have invented the modern hipster marketing demographic in the first place. If nothing else, this connection might pop into your mind five years from now, during the middle of the inevitable grunge revival, when you're sitting at a bar in your ripped Levi's and motorcycle jacket, laughing about the bad clothes in that old issue of Fader and desperately searching your pockets for that one last delicious cigarette. That damn Manny might have moved on to another job at that point, but rest assured, your local Camel rep might just be sitting at the other end of the bar doing something cool. And you know he'll probably hook you up.

Misshapes play this Saturday at Lizard Lounge with our friend Justin V (formerly of High Society) opening.

Labels:

61 Comments:

Blogger doorbells said...

damn, that's some good writing.

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the best writing on here yet. Extremely impressed.

8:34 AM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

The Misshapes crew really take themselves way too seriously. There was an interview where they asked Jarvis Cocker about his song being the inspiration behind this gathering of trendy fuckers and Jarvis said something about how it's ruined the song for him and that he never wrote it to be the "anthem of rich kids who pretend to be edgy."

For further proof that Leigh Lezark is retarded:

http://gawker.com/news/hipsters/i-misshape-therefore-i-styles-194831.php

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yay a writeup about some pathetic hipsters and the cancer pushing company Camel. awesome writing. kiss kiss. ass ass. who cares?

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this blog gets worse by the day

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your friend justin v? he's your friend?

10:23 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

do you spend the vast majority of your day on my blog?

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you spend the majority of your day crawling up hipsters asses?

10:37 AM  
Anonymous kenny said...

"Madonna is an old anorexic whore who wore out her welcome years ago, and that now she suddenly speaks with a British accent and she thinks she can play guitar and she should go fuck herself. "

10:59 AM  
Blogger Zak said...

Speaking of smoking...I just want to know when Dallas will ban smoking in public like many other big cities in this country have. NY did it, yet not us, sigh. I quit smokiing 10 years ago and yet still have to deal with the bs in the bars here.

That'll bring me out to vote this year, if some candidate would get behind that issue again.

Good write up btw, even though my uncool ass has never heard of those guys.

12:12 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I think the right to smoke in bars is one of the best things about Dallas. Come on, Zak. In every other aspect of public and private life, non-smokers have already won. Even in Dallas, you can't smoke inside ANYWHERE anymore other than bars. Aren't smokers allowed to have at least ONE place to smoke? Just one?

12:18 PM  
Blogger nick said...

Sometimes I like, sometimes I don't. This is one of the 'like' times.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Zak said...

Yeah, I know it pisses people off to say that, I argue with some of my close friends on it. But yeah, I think it damages public health and contributes to an unhealthy environment. I hate smelling like an ashtray when I go home for the nite. There is no question in my mind that secondhand smoke is bad for you.

I appreciate the non-smoking in restaurants, for the most part, even though places that serve food like the Meridian you can still smoke in. I don't think smoking bans are bad for business either. People aren't going to stay home because they can't smoke, however I know I avoid the worst of the smokey bars on most occasions and I know plenty of people who won't go to certain bars/venues at all because of it. So I think the reverse is true that a smoking ban is better for business.

So, yeah, I'd say take it outside like they do in NY and LA and Colorado and many other places. Don't Houston and Austin have a smoking ban in effect now? I definitely think that in time, there will be smoking bans everywhere you go.

This is one of those debates that is kind of a bitch to get into though because both sides can get a bit heated and righteous about the whole thing. Not a popular opinion especially around probably, that I understand.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

smoke in your house and cars where others lungs don't have to endure your tar

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray for smoking bans. It's your nasty habit not mine, why should I have to reap the damages?

1:10 PM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

i can understand the restaurants part but i feel like if you're sitting in a dark, dank bar you should totally be able to smoke. and anyone that goes into a bar knows what they're getting into.

i don't like the smell of italian food but it's not like i complain when i sit in an italian restaurant with friends and leave smelling like garlic. i know what to expect.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i DONT smoke and never did, but i like going into a smokey bar its part of the atmostphere! when people drink they smoke. its the most stupid fucking idea iv ever heard to make bars non-smoking...thats why you go to a fucking bar!!

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's less about "smelling" like something and more about "ingesting" someone elses black death. Pizza does not equal cigarettes. I'm still trying to figure out why this blog is pandering to Camel and hipsters for that matter. It's very suspect.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EXACTALLY if you dont like smoke do go to a fucking bar! its that simple!

dumb asses!

1:32 PM  
Anonymous other said...

How about when people go out to a bar to see a show?There are several factors that come into play:
a. the sounds might suck
b.the band might suck (it's 50%)
c. the bar might suck
d. all of the above

So if you know these things then why do you spend all your time on here blogging and complaining about it?

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At any rate the non smokers will eventually win so puff while you can. It can't be too far off now.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

second hand smoke dosent do shit to you! unless you fucking breath in every exhale every drag, every ciggarett, every person, smokes.

and besides even if you dont smoke ciggaretts i bet you smoke weed, and thats worse than second hand smoke, and worse than first hand cigg. snoke
so shut the fuck up!

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not giving people the choice to breathe clean non smoky air? Thats FAIR!
Anyway, what the hell is snoke?

http://www.crestonnewsadvertiser.com/national/307750383635860.php

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For 1:31
Part of going into a public bathroom is smelling the shit, why do the janitors clean it?

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:39 is a scientist! Or a doctor! The surgeon general? Or maybe Philip Morris!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey 1:48 good question... i like the smell of shit too!

1:57 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

132- are you an idiot, or are you simply kidding?

2:15 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

and I mean the first 132.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. Don't know if you've taken a class or two recently, but there has been a substantial improvement over the past month or so. The pieces are increasing well put together.

Perhaps trying to build up the portfolio to land a paying writing gig?

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did this article need to exist?

we learned:

1. camel has a marketing team
2. hipsters are cry-babies


usually the writing on this blog is pretty good. But this piece was stating the obvious.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you forgot
3. Bonedranger is getting a kickback from his Camel rep

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and
4. Bonedranger and Justin V are FRIENDS. Friends forever.

I guess that makes him cool? Or is he cool because he has a blog? Aren't these free?

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It List:
go to LIZARD LOUNGE to hang out with Mr. Joe Camel and his posse of ultra-hip people you never heard of

(incoming subliminal message: smoking is cool, smoke camel)

2:41 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

Thanks for the compliments.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't tout that DIY ethic and then drop that propaganda on me.


Is my cock big enough
Is my brain small enough
For you to make me a star
Give me a toot, I'll sell you my soul
Pull my strings and I'll go far

And when I'm rich
And meet Bob Hope
We'll shoot some golf
And shoot some dope

Is my cock big enough?
Is my brain small enough?

2:53 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

did you just buy your first Dead Kennedys album? How cute!

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the fact you think its novel to push Joe Camel commercials and talk about "ultra-cool" djs I'd say I owned my album way before you started playing with computers sonny.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GO BIG CORPORATION!

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sr is a tool

a big marketing tool

3:05 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I wish I was. I could really use the money.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Joe Camel said...

I give this essay an A+
(slides a five spot under the table to some anonymous douche)

3:08 PM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

seriously, no one here is actually saying that this blog is a pawn of big tobacco. seriously? you can't talk about indie rock and mention a cigarette brand without being in cahoots with the big bad evil major corporation?

i pray there's a big thick layer of irony in those last few comments. if we are actually acting very 11th-grade-vegan-punk-fuck-the-man, where's the FOOD NOT BOMBS kid? has he or she not posted yet?

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soldier 1: Some driving mister - how do you feel?
Dewey: Right now I feel for a CAMEL!
Soldier 2: That's the old Army spirit. Camel's the smoke with us.
Dewey: Give me Camels every time. They're EXTRA MILD and they've really got the flavor that hits the spot. 'I'd walk a mile for a Camel any day!

3:18 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

and based on this guy's comprehension of the post, I would actually put his reading level far below 11th grade.

3:18 PM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

i still think the misshapes kids are retards and am amazed they are not the main focus of the comments but this tobacco industry flame war came totally out of left field and i love it.

i just popped some popcorn so please continue.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't know why people are complaining about the article. at least when i started reading it i knew it wasn't one of defensive listening's defecations.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BROKENIZER at RGRS tonight!!

dont miss it he's genius.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more music less commercials

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comprehension of the post?

Scenester 1 and Scenester 2 read a retard blog about needing to be somewhere to be seen that night. They heard it was "cool" to hang out with a Camel rep who was doing "something cool" at the end of the bar, yadda yadda yadda some grunge reference that is supposed to be clever and the point is? Oh yeah, some stupid dj's you never heard of are spinning at Lizard Lounge and you should be there even if you hate Lizard Lounge and don't have a clue about these dj's. Some anonymous blogger who whines about anonymous posters told you to be there. I understood it all just fine, most of your post follow the same formula.

3:53 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

my point exactly.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yeah. sinevil's set is dope. check it out RGRS.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, my point exactly.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I GOT SMOKED AT HOT THIS WEEKEND!!!!

4:28 PM  
Blogger Zak said...

Well, basically there is no pro-smoking argument that makes any sense to me. Fact is second hand smoke is bad for you. How much may be the question or issue. Even though I don't smoke anymore I was for a long time on the "bars are supposed to be dank and smokey" side but not now. Deal is, we the non-smokers can either "stay home" completely to avoid it, or they can ban it and smokers can go outside and both groups can enjoy the bar. Not a big deal to go outside when it is in a city that doesn't have extreme cold or extreme weather of any kind. I even know smokers who don't like the smoke in the bars.

Plus, in our lifetimes, very soon even, all public places will be non-smoking so that is some small comfort. The way I see it is a public health issue, it will be dealt with the same way any other harmful thing to the general public is. All other comparisons don't work like smelling like food or a bathroom or whatever else because that isn't harmful to your health, it may suck but it won't harm you.

Anyway I don't think SR is in on the take for the Camel thing. NPR did a story about this kind of thing recently too about a big hip party in Miami where Camel was pimping out that new pink No.9 cigarette for women and trying to hook a certain demographic. Story was from a completely different p.o.v. than SR's though. Funny thing is they can't host these hip parties in the capitols of cool anymore due to smoking bans, so we get them here more often now.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Some bars choose not to allow smoking. Go to those if you're into clean livin'.

2. SR is, at the least, an above-average writer, and nothing from his/her post would lead me to believe that he/she is in Big Tobacco's employ.

3. WHERE THE GODDAMN FUCKELDY SHIT IS THE SXSW WRITEUP?

10:06 PM  
Blogger doorbells said...

God, did anyone even read the fucking post? Way to miss the point twenty times over. Stop bitching and go write a better article.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a downer, but this article was one of the better things I've read on the INTERWEBS in a while (and by far one of the best articles I've read on this site in a long time).

Nice job. Please keep it up, ya'll.

- heather @ rgrs

1:18 AM  
Blogger doorbells said...

Oh and erm, that's addressed to the commenters, not the author.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Glen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Glen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:14 PM  

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