Art & Design

Across the Tumblrverse: Isn’t Tumblr Over?

Art & Design

Across the Tumblrverse: Isn’t Tumblr Over?

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I’m worried we are already growing sick of Azealia Banks. It was Alexander Wang that put her over the edge, I think. Wang is a label that co-opts cool and blunts the edgy. “He’s never done anything original,” a discerning friend pronounced, “it’s just like old Balenciaga and Helmut Lang knock-offs. Models were dressing like that for years before his family paid for his brand.” We are suspicious of Wang because we sense his inauthenticity. He gives us things we want but it makes us nervous (we’d rather be told what we want, not catered to). Now beautiful Azealia, dancing for T by Wang, is starting to make us nervous. We believed in her big, filthy, 212 mouth and sang along all spring/summer 2012—I guess that cunt getting eaten, what authentic grammar! Just a few short months, how many magazine covers(?), and one Wangster ad later, and this is what I’m starting to hear: “Azealia Banks? Isn’t she over?”

Since the launch of this column, I’ve repeatedly heard the same thing said of Tumblr— Isn’t it over? To this I would always respond, “But Tumblr is just a platform for ideas! It’s just a useful interface, a medium, it can’t be over,” all the while understanding what my interrogators really meant: that the Internet has a consciousness and that topics trend into and out of interest and this we can, not only sense, but track. Memes are tangible, thank you data computing. The Internet consciousness is fetishistic and suffers from ADD. We pay attention, a lot of attention, and then we don’t, we move on. I think Azealia Banks is suffering from Internet overexposure. We ate her up, savored her dirty hot words (212 is at 27,502,765 views on YouTube), and so we turned her into a consumable, a thing that Wang could co-opt and sell back to us. The taste wheel turns. Next!

I’m not calling Azealia Banks’s career over. She’s a talented young lady and a fucking babe and I’m sure she’ll keep producing music and images that tickle our pickles. All I’m saying is that her moment—this fifteen seconds moment that made us first fall in love—may be over. All of the Tumblrs I’m collecting this week are ones I considered featuring and then considered discarding for being behind the times. Azealia Banks’s Tumblr was on the list two weeks ago but then I thought, haven’t we seen enough? Her official Tumblr looks just like all the other fan Tumblrs dedicated to her and her 2012 brand of 90’s throwback style (though her Tumblr does also come with a wicked soundtrack, that alone is worth the visit).

I thought about showing you Marina Abramović Made Me Cry, a Tumblr of portraits of crying visitors at Abramović’s MoMA exhibit “The Artist Is Present”. That exhibit and the HBO documentary that followed were so powerful. I cried. Didn’t you cry? Look at all these people that cried. But just yesterday a coffee table book of the very same images landed at my bookstore and my co-worker ravaged on about stunning Marina’s overexposure; “I mean, it’s just cult of the artist crap now.” Grimes is another girl whose sweet looks–those hand tats and multi-colored locks–are so Internet delicious, she risks making us sick of them. Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, has her own style Tumblr, but it’s Life of Grimes that best represents the phenomenon: a single image of the pop star Photoshopped into images of everything; she’s everywhere, get it?

What is it that makes us want to erect these idols and then cut them down? (We always hurt the ones we love, the one we shouldn’t hurt at all.) Why are these idols so often women? Why does Beyoncé seem to be invisible to this, forever authentic? Answer me Internet. I don’t want Azealia Banks and Marina Abramović and Grimes to be over. My intellect wills them to stay but I can sense my taste (there’s no accounting for it!) for them is fading. I didn’t want to feature any of them because I wanted to preserve them somehow, safeguard them from overexposure. But that brought up more interesting questions, like all of the above, and like: Is this a new phenomenon or am I whining a repeat? Does the Internet and Tumblr, as such a saturated, visual field, accelerate the object commodification of the female icon? Why is my eye so tired? What’s next?