Day #86: Pauline Pantsdown – “I Don’t Like It”
Netflix has a pretty good inventory of obscure documentaries about various subcultures. American Scary explored the cult of late night horror hosts. American Grindhouse covered the history of deviant cinema. The King of Kong brought to light a weird universe of classic gaming nerds. And a few night ago, I saw Shut Up! Little Man, which is all about the art of audio vérité.
In a collection of recordings that would come to be known as Shut Up! Little Man, two young guys (Mitchell Deprey and Eddie Lee Sausage) who shared a ratty apartment in San Francisco in the late 1980s covertly recorded their neighbors. Two mismatched old men named Peter and Raymond, who, for some reason, shared an apartment, and would basically get drunk and yell at each other all night long. (“Shut Up! Little Man!” referred to Peter’s frequent retort to Raymond who would spend most of his time bitching about homosexuals.) It’s funny in that way that you laugh at Shit My Dad Says; it’s old people being ridiculous. Well, these guys never expected anything to become of the recordings when they passed copies on to friends, who passed them on to other friends (so, there was little debate about invading their old neighbors’ privacy or worry about ownership of the recordings, which later let to lawsuits and bad blood). But, the recordings eventually went viral (assuming its reach wasn’t overstated), and this was in the days before the Internet and the term used to describe that kind of rapid, widespread sharing.
Apparently, there were fans of found sound (audio vérité). Folks who dealt in recordings like these. Someone in the film had an unrelated taping of Orson Wells doing what should have been a relatively simple, but probably demeaning script read for a frozen peas advertisement. Shut Up! Little Man became such an unexpected cult favorite (Raymond and Peter were unaware of their cult celebrity status, although they later tracked down Peter) that it was translated into other mediums. Theater. Film. Ghost World creator, Daniel Clowes, even did a comic, which was later used for the cover of the CD release of Shut Up! Little Man. A lot of this stuff probably doesn’t seem like much of a novelty nowadays, given the endless repertoire of memes on the Internet that incorporate audio vérité (look at all of the things that’s been done with the Christian Bale rant).
Today’s music selection is Pauline Pantsdown’s song, “I Don’t Like It,” is just one more example. And, in case you’re wondering (as I was when I first saw this), Pauline Pantsdown is a parody of one of Australia’s finest right wing crazies, Pauline Hanson. Which of course, means plenty of fodder for word fun! (See also Hard Creation’s acid mix of Margaret Thatcher’s witticisms in “I Will Have That Power”).
God bless you, Internet.