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Conformity is Cowardice - click for closeup (but no Spandex!)

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Conformity is Cowardice (the Stryper Sucks Mix)
2003 - Digital Media

July 7, 2004

First off, a few quick thoughts about the painting. This piece was created, like most of my computer-generated artwork, on Paint Shop Pro, using a various mix of nips, tucks, tweaks, and alterations. Much of it involves combining various graphical effects, while trying to keep a 'painterly' style. I don't want anything that looks pixelated; partially out of a sense of style, and party because I'd want these to look nice when blown up on paper of canvas.

This second "Conformity is Cowardice" simply the first one with the colors inverted. It just so happened to be yellow and black, so that's where the title comes from.

Ah, Stryper, the poster child for everything that was wrong about 1980s corporate pop. You see, it was a difficult time, when all common sense was thrown out the window, and America embraced one rediculously phony pose after another. Reality gave way to fantasy, the fat cats called all the shots, and the little people got the shaft.

It was, very simply, the Reagan Era.

Seriously, though, pop music in the '80s was pretty bad, but the worst of the worst was the fearsome plague known as (dramatic pause)...Hair Metal.

Hair Metal was its own parody, a bizarre concoction of '70s glam rock, comic books, spandex, loads of hairspray, and every stupid cliche you could possibly think. High-screeching "singers," overly-flashy guitarists, drummers who spent more time twirling their drumsticks and winking at the cameras than actually drumming.

Every song fell into the same stupid categories: hey, look, everyone, we're rocking out! We're all dating models and actresses! I drive my flashy sports car down Hollywood Blvd. every night! Hey, kids, we're dangerous and rebellious, even though we wear more more mascara than Tammy Faye! And, yes, everything has an exclamation mark at the end; every photo was some phony, macho pose. Every video seemed to involve models being tied to cars or tent poles or cages; every song drowned in echo and reverb and way too many backup vocals.

Hair Metal brought out the Holden Caufield in anyone with half a brain, and it was torture to live through. Much like the Bush II Presidency, but with overpriced sound-and-light shows.

Somewhere in this tragic mix of Motley Crew and Poison and Whitesnake and Warrant and the Scorpions and Twisted Sister and Cinderella and Tesla, and too many other wannabees to mention, was Stryper. Now, this was an especially bad band, for all the above reasons, but they had a gimmick: religion.

Stryper posed as the "Christian" holy rockers in rediculous bumblebee suits. The yellow-and-black-attack is back! We're here to rock you! Yeah!! Ouch, somebody get me outta here.

Stryper gave us such great ideas as throwing small Bibles into the audience during their show. You know, that obscure work of Middle-Eastern literature; you may have heard of it. Stryper gave us such immortal anthems as, "To Hell With the Devil;" "Soldiers Under Command," "The Rock That Makes Me Wanna Roll."

And these are the songs that made the cut.

Didn't you love it when Stryper brought out their album, "In God We Trust"? Were they trying to be political with the dollar bill on the cover? You just feel sorry for them, because they couldn't possibly be trying to follow after the Dead Kennedy's and Metallica. That's like watching Tiny Tim play like Johnny Cash.

Losers. Stryper sucks. Bunch of phony corporate pretty-boy wanna-bees. Trying to turn religion into a corporate commodity just sealed the deal. You'd think someone would've pointed them towards Elvis, or Johnny Cash, or Aretha Franklin, or Bob Marley, or albums like Pet Sounds, A Love Supreme or John Wesley Harding. Heck, U2 was big in the '80s, and they've dealt with religion genuinely.

So, let's take a moment to remember Stryper, and remember that's what the punks and speed metal kids were rebelling against back then. Without Hair Metal and the Reagan Era, would we have had Husker Du, The Replacements, Dead Kennedy's? Socially concious protest music ala Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax? Don't forget rappers like Public Enemy, Run DMC, Sugar Hill Gang. All the real music was underground, plotting the overthrow, waiting for Saint Cobain to topple the whole fraudulant farce once and for all.

The fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of Bill Clinton, the death of Hair Metal. In the end, every story has its happy ending.

Conformity is cowardice.