The Anti-Culture Press

Milla Jovovich’s Music and Mass Entertainment

Posted in Music by The Anti-Culture on March 5, 2009
Milla Jovovich from a Damiani photoshoot.

Milla Jovovich from a Damiani photoshoot.

Today coming home from a lecture at school, I stumbled upon the official website of Milla Jovovich, supermodel turned Hollywood actress, while I was randomly searching the tubes for anything to keep me entertained before I headed off to work. What was interesting is that on one of the drop down menus, she had a list of pieces of music that she had written, composed, and sung by herself. Mostly unpublished demo pieces, she lets her site viewers download them for free, so I figured why the hell not and started downloading all her demo pieces.

It was my first time every hearing music by her, and honestly, I liked it, and I’ll tell you why.

In our current situation today, in terms of mass popular culture, we are nothing more than consuming the capitalist ventures of the entertainment industry. As my professor in one of my lectures in my communications studies class said “there is a now a mixing of ‘high’ culture and ‘mass’ culture where you see 30 second commercials of the Mona Lisa side by side with night cream,” so there is now a certain uncertainty with what constitutes art. What I’m trying to say is, in terms of music, we cannot just value music purely in its form anymore such as the complexity of notation, technique, and the skill of the artist. Of course, I’m not saying that critiquing musical skill and technique should be let go for a more socioanalytical approach to understanding music, but merely to add the sociocultural approach to the whole of the artist.

Milla Jovovich’s Music

When I first encountered Jovovich’s music, I couldn’t quite pin the genre that she presents herself in. In tracks like “Beat on Ice,” she mixes a certain Deep House feel with the looped back beat that signifies most Deep House music tracks. In “Remedy” she uses a melodic acoustic riff as the main motif and then switches to a more harder sound. This ambiguity in genre and her mixing of styles mixed with the dreamy and moody sound she portrays in most of her tracks made me liken her to artists such as Scandanavians, Stina Nordenstam and Bjork, who constantly show a certain ambiguity in their music due to their experimentation in styles.

Now with her being a fashion model, film actor, and musician, what does this tell us about herself as an artist? what the problems this gives in my reading of Jovovich’s music is that her ability to sell her art in these three sectors of mass entertainment problematizes her viability as the “ideal” musician; of doing it for art’s sake by pushing the boundaries to how you can portray a certain emotion or concept through song and not just for the financial profit. However, on the intrinsic side of things, her music portrays a sense of that ideal by experimenting with different styles and techniques. So now the question is, is being an experimental artist being marketed as mass popular culture? Unfortunately, we can only go so far with understanding this as we can safely assume that many different individuals listen to Milla Jovovich and other artists themselves.

This leads me to a point where not all mass popular culture is for the profit it generates in the capitalistic society we live in. In our post modern era, institutions such as art galleries, publishing houses, music studios, and film studios are not the only ones who decide for us what constitutes “good” or “bad” piece of entertainment, but the listeners themselves. Going back to a most often heard of concept in culture studies that comes from the study of semiotics (the study of what is a sign of something), in the postmodern world we cannot safely assume that a piece of music is good or bad because the artist conveys the meaning of her message whether implicitly or explicitly at a superficial or intellectually substantial level. As well, with many different individuals listening to different kinds of music we can assume that we are all not  homogenous and mindless consumers of capitalistic culture. Not everyone will interpret Milla Jovovich the same way, nor will anyone with artists like 50 cent.

So if we can’t rely on other people to tell us what is artistic, and we can’t let artists interpret for us, what do we do?

We simply explain it to ourselves why it is art.

I can only go so far with explaining what Milla Jovovich brings to our society with her music as I can only use her as an example of what art does to culture itself, but what I can say is my own personal opinion to why I like her music and why it is art.

I like it because she seems to enjoy what shes doing. By releasing demo singles on her site, she’s letting the world know that she likes doing it merely because she isn’t selling them off on itunes or Napster like most artists nowadays do with every new track they come out with. On some of the headings of each track she lists on her site, she has little personal anecdotes explaining where the song comes from and why shes doing it. “For fun,” she says for one of her tracks. It is art in my opinion, because she engages in it.

Thanks for reading,

Marcshake

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