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12 April 2010

Scott Williams starring in “Nirvana on ice”: a worthy internet meme & some thoughts on web commentary

“Again, very unusual choreography.”

“I always want to know how do they skate in those jeans?”

“Scott doesn’t have a long list of medals or credentials as an amateur but he’s really come into his own as a professional and a performer and he’s always valuable to a show.”

And that sample from the color commentary is only the beginning of the awkwardness on display in this video — an internet meme I’ve been sitting on for awhile. I’ve done the research. It’s not an internet parody, a YouTube vid equivalent of Blades of Glory.

Nope, rather this is figure skater Scott Williams‘ championship effort to revolutionize skating. Just to show the shallowness of the information available on the internet, I clicked in three links deep into this meme without so much as seeing the skater’s name written out. It took watching the whole thing (boring!), listening to to the commenters announce his name, and then doing a Google search to figure it out (boring!).

But wait a second, is the dialogue on the internet so shallow after all? Just because those posting this video didn’t bother presenting much context about it, that doesn’t mean it did not lead to an intriguing critical dialogue.

At first, I figured the framers and commenters on this meme would get it all wrong, that they’d merely make jokes about Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain turning in his grave. For example, the Boing Boing post which kicked off the meme was headlined “As if Kurt Cobain hasn’t died enough times already.” Wokka-wokka. Indeed, at first I lamented comments like these:

    moniker42 • #2 • 13:13 on Tue, Mar. 2 • Reply
    I disapprove of everything about this, everything related to this, and everything that this makes me think about, with the possible mental exception of Nirvana itself.
    Anon • #80 • 22:38 on Wed, Mar. 3 • Reply
    What the fuk is happening to this world? Social suicide at its finest. The absolute WORST display. A wretched interpretation of Nirvana cluless to its core. Nirvana on ice?? are you kidding me. Its obvious Scott and his moronic staff just don’t get it.

One even went to the dramatic, Nietzschean depths of saying:

    Axx • #72 • 11:08 on Wed, Mar. 3 • Reply
    God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?

I, however, tend to take a more nuanced view of an artist’s intention and his or her opinion on latter day interpretations. Playing psychologist, prognosticator or psychic channeler to a rock star is a losing game, but I was happy to see the majority of commenters had a more nuanced take on what the band would have thought of Williams’ performance:

    mindysan33 replied to comment from stegodon • #27 • 15:03 on Tue, Mar. 2 • Reply
    Yeah, It’s kind of bullshit, but probably less bullshit than Nirvana on Rock band or guitar hero or whatever, which is a far more egregious case of Nirvana’s music being used in a way that Cobain would have hated (rather than kids going out and making their own music, sitting around pretending to make his music)… and actually the Dead Kennedy’s rock band or guitar hero or whatever was far more bullshit, as they apparently changed lyrics to songs because some would have found them offensive (don’t ask me which songs and which lyrics – this is second hand knowledge from a conversation well over a year ago)… I kinda agree with #6 Anon – Cobain probably would have been amused by the whole thing…. Weirdness.
    Anon • #32 • 15:59 on Tue, Mar. 2 • Reply
    Yes, very funny. Am sure ALL members of Nirvana would have had a laugh at this.
    Anon replied to comment from Anonymous • #33 • 16:08 on Tue, Mar. 2 • Reply
    I agree with anon. Despite the ridiculousness, and desire to gouge out one’s eyes. Cobain would be laughing his ass off

Even the commenters whom dissented from what I take to be the correct view — that Cobain & co. would get a laugh out of this — managed to complexify their arguments as to why the skate routine was a sacrilege:

    Anon replied to comment from Anonymous • #58 • 00:00 on Wed, Mar. 3 • Reply
    I really don’t think Cobain would have found this amusing in a positive way, more in an amusing I now have to kill myself way. Things like this really upset him, part of the reason his life ended in tragedy. And to be honest, as figure skating goes, that outfit was awful and the routine did not fit the music or the lifestyle. Poor decision and effort all around. F-

And finally a haiku:

    Michael A • #69 • 10:14 on Wed, Mar. 3 • Reply
    The whole essence of Nirvana’s music is we try those fancy jumps, but gravity makes us land on our ass.

So, what is my message to you? Click here to find out.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis

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