Monday, April 21, 2008

Tila Tequila

2007: "I Love U"

2007: "Stripper Friends"

2008: "Paralyze"

This above song was released just a few weeks ago on April 8.

Tila Tequila is a fascinating pop culture figure to me not particularly because of the image she has cultivated for herself, but because of how she has taken advantage the most fruitful tools of youth cultural commodification, i.e. MTV, myspace, itunes, reality TV. The story of her ascendance to fame is a kind of perverted rags-to-riches tale: her family emigrated from Vietnam, moved to Houston, she joined gangs in high school, ran off to Queens at the age of 16, returned to Texas and was picked up by a Playboy scout, jumpstarting her career in modeling. However, most of her fame is due to her prolific and astute use of MySpace, garnering 2 million MySpace friends. She was the star of the MTV reality show, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and most of her song releases have been through iTunes.

Leaving her willingness to fetishize her body and image aside (all of which I find problematic and controversial), I wonder if the skillful way in which she used Web 2.0 will set a precedent for other Asian-Americans to enter the cultural industry. With sites such as YouTube and MySpace, the possibility of becoming an overnight star (with some self-promotion, of course) is not an unrealistic dream. Record companies are constantly scouting MySpace for the "next new hit" but does ethnicity become less or more of an issue on online settings?

I was also interested by the progression of the content of her songs/music videos from explicitly sexual to more "innocent" and "pop-like." This is the opposite of the traditional tendancy for female pop artist like Christina Aguilera or Pink to start off with more mainstream pop records and create more edgy second albums.

No comments: