Negativland - No Other Possibility (1989)
t's probably easy today to dismiss Negativland's activities as trifle, banal or plain stupid. They probably wouldn't be too uncomfortable with that, as they rarely claimed to go beyond the softest platitudes of the entertainment biz. But despite some recognition in some circles and some notoriety due to the famous copyright battle with U2 and Pepsi, the band is perhaps still to be acknowledged as one of the most relevant and prophetic projects in the 80s. In fact, from their first surrealist works on alienated concrète to their later sample-based beat palimpsests, Negativland paved the way for much of today's collage-centered pop culture as seen, for instance, in the increasingly common televised montages of political events and commercial samples for critical or humorous purposes. No Other Possibility, their first video work, showcases the band at a career threshold, before their U2ploitation move and just after their Christianity hoax. It typically explores the debris of American pop culture, dealing with automobile fetishism, televised preaching, halloween traditions, Marlboro masculinity, soft drinks and MTV. Featuring such iconic culture-jam figures as Reverend Dick, The Weatherman, Dick Vaughn or Crosley Bendix, it expands on the visionary concept of Universal Media Netweb and seamlessly jams live footage, TV excerpts, street interviews and home-recorded theatrical performances in a zapping collage that could well have inspired EBN's ZooTV show. From the brilliant Christianity is Stupid murders hoax to the magical significance of numbers, from lime soda to green slime and lung cancer, No Other Possibility stands as an entertaining essay on pop culture, tele-kinetics and media-noise. And there's also a small boy who, like most people, would prefer bands to have girls playing drums.