The most interesting part of “Shut Up and Play the Hits” is when James Murphy talks about how Nick Cave never seemed like a normal guy. He was this captivating persona on stage, and it was hard to imagine him walking his dog or going to get coffee. And that part of the idea of LCD Soundsystem was to be a normal person band, with fewer frills and less distance in terms of personality, personas, or artifice. But Murphy learned this was impossible – that by virtue of your placement and visibility in culture, normal people become larger than life and mundane details become part of the conscientious aesthetic.

Relatedly, in “Air Guitar”, Dave Hickey relays this conversation with Waylon Jennings:

“Because you start out playing for people who are just like you. That’s the only place you can. You play for people who come from where you come from. They seek you out in little clubs because they understand what you’re doing, so you feel like you’re doing it for them. And if you go wrong in these clubs, you know it immediately. 
 
“Then one day, you’re not playing for people like you anymore. You look our there, like I did tonight, and realize that you’re playing for people who want to be like you, and you can’t trust these people. Because to them, whatever you do, that’s you, and that’s cool.”

While I always thought this passage was right, it also bugged me, because it seems to essentialize a particular authenticity – either you’re part of the scene or you’re not.

But, as I watched “Don Jon” last night (stay with me), I changed my mind. Despite the fact that Gordon-Levitt’s character is portrayed in a critical and evaluative light, he can’t help but look cool. He’s in a movie. He’s well-lit, he’s on-screen, he’s says tightly written dialogue. Like Murphy and Jennings, he occupies a centralized space in a cultural landscape, and there’s an inherent divide between audience and performer, and in that space glorification of personal traits occurs. He becomes someone worth emulation.

This all relates back to how hard it is to be ironic and/or critical, without being didactic. It’s hard to know if one’s audience will apply a critical lens to a nuanced portrayal, or if the inherent glorification of portrayal itself will overwhelm a critique.