Monday, 29 December 2014

What is "it"?

My cover design for the January 2015 issue of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in-house print magazine (online here).

Journalist Matt Alt writes in the issue about Pharrell Williams' video for a new track, "It Girl" and its animation roots in "lolicon" (or Lolita complex – the self explanatory interest in prepubescent girls).  Matt wrote a piece in the New Yorker explaining the artist's lolicon links and more about the whole shebang to a readership it might have passed by. The video's producer, pop artist Takashi Murakami responded publicly on his Facebook page. So this Number 1 Shimbun cover (for Matt's follow-up article about the unexpected response to his New Yorker piece and with more about lolicon's history) plays on an obvious connection with Lolita, lolicon and pop. It's designed to make you feel uncomfortable.

If I even got to design a cover for that great work of fiction, Lolita – which is lowered to a common denominator daily in Japan by its association with lolicon, and the Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita fashions etc  – this would have been it. Since I may never have gotten that opportunity, here was a chance to use it!

Pharrell has been forgiven much because of his hyper-infectious, singularly positive track "Happy", which has been used in YouTube videos from Sudan to Ukraine, by British muslims and Okinawan residents, and which was accompanied by the great 24-hour music video. So he largely escaped the criticism (to say the least) of his co-written "Blurred Lines", which left main singer Robin Thicke with a non-selling follow-up album and taking the rap. Pharrell's album GIRL – pitched as celebration of the female, presumably in response to all those events – features "It girl". Perhaps Pharrell just didn't realise what he was associating with…

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