Ian Svenonius interviewed by Tobi Vail.
You rarely hear a defense of “garbage,” but [the notion of] “trash culture” is used as a rallying cry for enthusiasts of bubblegum, B-Movies and the like. In a sense, punk rock is the child of trash connoisseurs like John Waters and Andy Warhol, who were archivists, curators and appreciators of lowbrow, or “camp,” forms that were dismissed by the bourgeoisie. This culminated with the Ramones. Now, [we have] the rampant triumph of trash everywhere gross-out films, the internet, reality TV, George Bush, Killing as a national sport, i.e. Qaddafi. There is really no “highbrow” in America anymore.
Americans’ defense of trash could be read as nationalist posturing, since “good taste” was, and still is, typically determined by a European standard (as evidenced by the yuppie’s affection for artisanal espresso, Italian cooking, and hand-crafted housewares as well as the critic’s veneration of Euro sensibilities in film, art, etc.).
Either way, “trash” has been utterly assimilated by the culture at large. There are no longer art films, and the art shown in galleries is as grotesque, lowbrow, and kitsch as can be. TV news is interchangeable with pornography and the populace of every class flaunts its illiteracy, ignorance and idiocy at every possible opportunity.
The bourgeoisie has taken up the trash trend quite literally, with the “eco,” “recycling” and “green” trend, where people hoard trash on their porch and in special bins which are set outside for conspicuity, in classic “Keeping Up With the Joneses” style. All this trash-loving and trash hoarding, while the garbage is just shoved in landfills, stuck in lakes and rivers and compacted mercilessly. Garbage goes unloved, unappreciated, despised. Garbage still stinks and includes old diapers, rotten eggs, medical waste and coffee grinds.
Since punk themes are tired, toothless and tedious, garbage power might be the next revolutionary front switching trash for garbage. Lauding garbage, collecting it and putting it in galleries while rejecting trash would be a real kick in the pants to all these self-satisfied trash collectors.