Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the worst logo in the world

Am I the only one who is disturbed by the logo used by the New York Neo-Futurists? That's a rhetorical question - of course I am. I'm sure that the mere fact that I find a logo that portrays the face of a child in pain disturbing automatically sets me apart from the hipsters who are unfazed by visions of cruelty, because being unfazed by cruelty is a sign of how manly macho postmodern you are. And that's the way to be in theater. You know, all cutting edge and pushing those boundaries blah blah blah, what every theater company mission statement claims it does.

The letters of the logo stand for "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" which is apparently the name the Neo-Futurists use for what their web site describes as
...written and performed with an eight-person ensemble and billed as “an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 Plays in 60 Minutes.” The show promised an emotional and intellectual roller-coaster of ideas and images ridden at break-neck speed by a participating audience. Greg Allen created the formula for Too Much Light... from an amalgam of different influences. In typical postmodern fashion, a theory was borrowed from here, a form was stolen from there...
Ah, yes, "postmodern." How fabulous. 

Nowhere on the web site does it explain why they named the show "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind." My assumption is that whatever the reason the title was chosen, it wasn't because there was originally a play about a baby being blinded by excessive light. Although if it's meant metaphorically, well it's a pretty lousy metaphor, since light usually indicates understanding as in "more heat than light" or sudden insight as represented by a cartoon light bulb. Unless maybe you're referring to being cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night, since Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun Oh, but Mama, that's where the fun is.*

But just in case you might think that being blinded by the light could be fun, there's that logo to remind you that in fact it isn't fun. This isn't some abstract representation of The Theater with the traditional comedy/tragedy masks, it's very specifically a depiction of  pain. And whether it meant something at one time is irrelevant - it means nothing, now,  except to groove on the hiptitude of being unphased by a depiction of horrible torment. It's emotional deadening in the grandest postmodern tradition. 

But I stand corrected about the mission statement thing - the Neo-Futurists don't mention the usual cutting-edge-pushing-boundaries thing. I didn't think it was possible, but their mission statement is even more obnoxious than that - so kudos, Neo-Futurists, you truly are cutting edge. Here's what it says:
Embracing a form of non-illusory theater in order to present our lives and ideas as directly as possible. All of our plays are set on the stage in front of the audience. All of our characters are ourselves. All of our stories really happened. All of our tasks are actual challenges. We do not aim to “suspend the audience’s disbelief,” but to create a world where the stage is a continuation of daily life.
Wow, the stage is a continuation of daily life. Just what I always wanted. Because daily life is just so interesting that I want to see it on stage - and pay for it too.

And of course it's entirely bullshit, as all postmodern manifestos are - in fact bullshit is usually a leading indicator of postmodernism. They don't actually "create a world where the stage is a continuation of daily life" - no more so than any other theatrical experience, as you can see in this page of their videos. And if this video page is any indication, the New York Neo-Futurists are male-dominated, which is also standard theater group practice.

Perhaps you aren't supposed to take their claims literally though - maybe only their hideous logo is a literal representation of anything. 

Although OK, to be fair, the face isn't literally a baby's - it's more like a four-year-old boy in anguish over losing his eyesight.

* I should mention that "Blinded by the Light" has a couple of my all-time favorite lines: 
Well, I jumped up, turned around, spit in the air, fell on the ground asked him which was the way back home -
He said, "Take a right at the light, keep on straight until night, and then boy you're on your own."