Louis CK promotes artistic integrity via self-distribution

Kyle Seasly

One of my favorite comedians, Louis CK, satirically notes, “Every day starts, my eyes open and I reload the program of misery. I open my eyes, remember who I am, what I’m like, and I just go ‘ugh . . .'” Although Louis presents himself as an old bald man who is angry at the world, he is bent on changing it. Recently on Conan O’Brien’s talk show, he made a particularly relevant statement about modern-day attitudes regarding technology, “Everything is amazing and no one is happy.”

Indeed, one such example of certain “things being amazing” is his latest Stand-up Special. The show, “Live at the Beacon Theater,” is indeed hilarious and thought-provoking, although this is not why it is amazing.

It is amazing because Louis circumvented all major companies to produce it. Like Radiohead’s In Rainbows, he avoided all physical media and posted it on his website and asked people to pay $5 to see the special. Through this method, Louis avoids piracy by creating a direct relationship with the artist and the consumer. Without anyone censoring him, he is allowed complete creative control.

This illustrates a definite trend in the world of pop culture. Because music, television and cinema are moneymaking industries, certain material is censored when it is deemed by the corporate bigwigs “unsellable.” Thanks to the rise of the Internet, however, this “unsellable” material can be seen and heard.

Louis CK and Radiohead have lots of capital as well as a definitive presence in the world of pop culture, which allows for complete digital download with complete creative control and lots of media attention. Without that much capital, fame is still extremely attainable without the industry pulling the strings of artistic material.

The Internet is the best medium we have for such creative control of these works. It’s not as if In Rainbows is especially weird, or Louis’ Stand-up Special is especially raunchy (well, kind of); it’s just nice to know that artistic integrity still exists. And these artists are taking a chance on getting money back by trying this method. But by taking this chance they set the precedent for allowing the self-distribution notion to come into media headlines.

It’s also not as if self-producing hasn’t been around for a long time. Frank Zappa produced most of his own material and self-distributed. When he said, “Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best,” one can infer that Frank Zappa distrusted most aspects of society except for music because it was the one thing he could completely control.

The Internet is a catalyst for this creativity to blossom. For example, the artist Owl City, whom I completely despise, got famous solely for being on Myspace without any major corporations backing him. Even though I think his music may be terrible, it is his attitude of self-distribution that I endorse.

At a college where we like to despise large corporations and think small-scale, this is exactly the sort of creative  endeavor we should be supporting.  Artists like Louis CK, Radiohead and countless others show us that creative exploits need not be funneled through big companies with dreams of dollar signs, but instead can reach a wide audience while promoting a new, exciting vision for entertainment.