This is the collection of projects made by students of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, under supervision of our professor Dr. Bernd Herzogenrath from the American Studies department. The class took place in the 2021 summer term.
Picture this... like any decent elevator pitch, this main idea fits into a simple line: a jukebox, not unlike a work by visual artist Dustin Yellin, houses Songsville, USA, the town where all the characters from the Great American songbook come to life.
At the heart is a rather simple example: a classic piece of sung Americana, Bruce Springsteen's "Statetrooper" from his 1982 story telling album "Nebraska", which despite his status and MTV'S heyday, never had an actual music video shot. Listening to it, our cultural bias automatically assumes: if The Boss devotes an entire song to a single character, a person wishing he won't have to use the gun on the passanger seat (again) on the statetrooper tailgating him, of course we're dealing with a Caucasian blue collar fella from the Jersey shore. But what if... it's actually one of the gentlemen described in the late Big L's tale of "Casualties of a Dice Game"? Wouldn't you, too, fell Harlem via New Jersey, if you were on the run?
Both are classic pieces of the 20th century storytelling in song, and work swell together when blended from sources widely available on youtube and an audio file recorded with a clip-on microphone while actually driving (that the Talking Heads came on right after worked only too well for the trailer, so we had to leave it in. Eat this, Quentin!), "Lost Highway" on my mind.
"Statetrooper" gained a second round of notoriety when Sopranos' showrunner David Chase utilized it to end the first season of his acclaimed TV program- therefore it was imperative to add in "The New Jersey Turnpike with the classic moment, when the late James Gandolfini's character passes the toll booth of the same name, in itself a possible nod to the brutal slaughter of Mobsters in Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather I. Finally, run through the Final Cut Pro's "Surveillance Camera"-Plugin, and paranoia reaches a new plateau.
All of this ushered in by the aforementioned season finale: While seeking refuge in Artie'S restaurant (which Tony Soprano earlier... well, that's another story), shadows from Joan Jett starting a juke box and her & The Blackhearts' "I Love Rock'n Roll" emerge, ghosts of christmas' past haunting the mobsters' upper echelon along with found youtube footage of the "My 1956 Wurlitzer 2000 Jukebox playing Clyde" variety.
The opening of this bonanza, a clip called "memeculture" (in true spirit of this seminar, a youtube-link filmed off the television screen with a current iPhone) hails from a youtube-rant called "Jonathon tree and Andre Gleeson - A Crypto Christmas Carol", which raises a few interesting points on crypto-currencies (talking about recycling) and its crossovers with the gaming world, which ends in quoting Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solig Character Solid Snake over taking more than one hint from Godfrey Reggio's "Koyaanisquatsi".
The Trailer uses an iMovie-Template that comes with any given apple product, mashing up pieces of Curses/DropTheLime-frontman Luca Venezia's very own coverversion of "Statetrooper" - not the first person you'd think of and his promo video in itself quoting David Lynch circa "Wild at Heart" quoting film noir classics. In the word of Big L: "It's flamboyant, y'all". 'Streetstruck