Cool clothes should have credit sequences
The pleasures of "C.R.E.D.I.T.S. Mindset"
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Jonah & Erin
Spy Nation, I’ve gotta get something off my d*mn chest — I love CREDITS, and they are under attack by powerful forces in our sick stupid culture !!
When I say I love credits (Erin does too) I’m not talking about how I love it when cool attractive people such as yrself give Blackbird Spyplane “mad credit” for improving yr lives and putting you on to popping s**t, although that’s chill as h*ll because we are great at newsletters.
No, right now I’m talking about encounters with credits such as:
The powerful SPELL of when I’m watching a great movie and the final shot cuts to black and I’m floored, like, “f******ck….” and then the credits start to roll and I’m like, “<exhales> d******mn,” and the text, slowly sliding upwards, becomes a liminal extra-textual “vestibule” to ease my transition out of the experience — creating some space and time for profound reflection, rather than abruptly crashing me back into this hustle-bustle, topsy-turvy, modern waking world.
When I’m watching those credits and I learn fascinating s**t that deepens my appreciation of what I just saw and of the movie-making process generally, such as (e.g., off the dome) the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis interned for a year with the costumes director at the NYC ballet, who taught him how to sew clothes (and re-create a vintage Balenciaga dress based only on photos!) before making Phantom Thread… ??
So ill — and I only know this because I saw a stray line about it a few minutes into the credits and decided to investigate further.
Just appreciating the visual representation, as name after name goes by, of the fact that MAD PEOPLE besides the director, writer & actors worked to make the thing I just watched — a collectivist counterbalance to romantic yet pernicious myths of INDIVIDUALIST GENIUS that can make us focus disproportionately on “numero uno” at the expense of fellowship & communitarian obligations! (This also manifests in a cool way when you see a filmmaker’s “Thank Yous” and get a little glimpse of the “social architecture” of a film’s making, like, “D*mn I didn’t know Joanna Hogg was homies with Martin Scorsese, that’s tight.”)
The related delight of when I’m listening to a great album with the LINER NOTES in hand, locked in on the tunes while reading the d*mn credits and thereby learning who did what, where, on which song — knowledge that makes the music itself “hit different” than if I didn’t know those things… This is exactly how I first learned that (off the dome, e.g.) Phil Collins drummed on a bunch of Brian Eno’s excellent early solo records !!
Reading mad fashion magazines — which Erin has been doing since she was a COOL KID conducting adolescent jawn-recon — and whipping yr eye back and forth between the pics and the GUTTER CREDITS, where the info on designers, models, stylists, photographers, etc. is tucked.
However, for several years now, credits have been under unprecedented assault by ppl whom we must sadly conclude DO NOT TRULY LOVE COOL S**T as much as they should, and who do not want you to relate to the “content” you “consume” on as fully blessed & exalted a plane as possible.
Thankfully Blackbird Spyplane is coming at you today with a new enlightened mental framework to combat these forces. It’s called:
Immersion in the
You’re probably wondering, “Blackbird Spyplane, 1. What is C.R.E.D.I.T.S. Mindset, 2. How can it work for me, and 3. What are the forces arrayed against it?”
The answer to 3. is illustrated nowhere better than the way N*tflix (and other streaming platforms) make it actively hard to NOT skip end credits these days… They play a few pro forma seconds, then suddenly the window minimizes and the algorithm tries to serve you up some other s**t INSTANTLY, on autoplay, a.k.a. it tries to “take you to a second location” like a weird creep. Imagine if a movie theater did some version of this, it would be deranged, and yet we tolerate it in our homes ?
H*ll no. Yr boy the contemplative cinéaste is trying to chill in the d*mn liminal extra-textual vestibule, ponder what I just saw, and watch the names of the many people who came together to conjure up movie magic … And suddenly I’ve got to fumble for the remote like a jamoke trying to make the s**t full-size again, rewinding to see the credits I missed, at which point the minimization thing is triggered again half the time … ??Wack.
All because N*tflix and their streaming brethren ultimately relate to you as a “content piggie” oinking at the trough for more feed*, and because, when push comes 2 shove, these companies relate to the creations they stream not as works of art worthy of deep respect but as TROUGH FILLER — shout out that recent Hollywood Reporter piece, linked below, about how N*tflix is gonna stop funding “difficult,” costly projects like The Irishman and Roma. The way they toss credits in the “digital trash” is just one small but potent indication of their fundamental disdain for ART!!
*(No disrespect to actual pigs, who remain certified Spyplane Angels subjugated by the abomination that is factory farming, and also, no disrespect to actual cool people who work at N*tflix, whose coolness can only do so much in the face of overarching structural prerogatives !!)
It’s not just N*tflix... Album liner notes are functionally dead as far as the big music-streaming platforms are concerned, too. You can usually find them elsewhere online, but why have we created this added step and severed the credits from the work itself, where they used to be nestled up tight, and should be NESTLED still??
Meanwhile, old-school fashion-mag credits routinely get left by the wayside as images get reduced to contextless, authorless instantiations of “VIBE,” SHORN OF PROVENANCE and shoveled into the indiscriminate “moodboard industrial complex…” SMDH.
In the face of this tomfoolery, C.R.E.D.I.T.S. Mindset — where you simply keep the questions in mind of who came together to make something and how — reflects a more holistic understanding of the fundamentally collaborative nature of music, movies and fashion, and, in a more generalized way, reflects a blessed impulse to respect (rather than obscure) communitarian achievements, which remind us of the beauty of fellowship and collective action more broadly, baby !! (Is it coincidental that movies have such extensive, detailed credits sequences and that the entertainment industry is so heavily unionized? I doubt it…)
At bottom, “C.R.E.D.I.T.S Mindset” isn’t just about defending the (admittedly dorky) DOPENESS of movie credits and album credits — that’s just Phase 1. It’s also about demanding NEW future territory for credits, such as (since this is a style-focused sletter) “credits sequences” on fire jawns themselves…
Yes, we respect stagecraft & mystique, and recognize that “seeing how the sausage gets made” can pierce a magic spell in its own way. But there’s a middle ground — as decades of extremely granular movie credits demonstrate.
Visvim’s “Dissertations” on production details (e.g. about a time-honored Italian nylon factory, or about kurume kasuri resist dyeing, links below) get partway there (“partway” because they tend to focus on traditions, not actual people). Spyfriends Graziano & Gutiérrez’s detailed production notes (below) about their various materials-producers take it further and help the jawnz-rocker to see, in a more “systems level” sense, who all helped a beautiful pair of pants to actually exist…
C.R.E.D.I.T.S. Mindset can be seen in opposition to marketing — because shining a light on otherwise unacknowledged labor can help reveal endemic exploitation (or, say, wildly inflated pricing). But it can abet marketing, too, for worse or better, whether via mockable clichés (“tonight’s chicken was raised 22 miles north of here by a farmer named Carol whose grain-free feed consists of …”) or by explaining and justifying something’s relatively high price tag by letting you know how, e.g., a pricey artisan jawn’s making was materially different from that of a cheap s**tty mass-market jawn.
Case in point, when yr boy GLIDED THRU ITALY the other week to interview [CINEMATIC GOAT REDACTED], I said, “f**k it we ball” at the end of the trip and copped a beautiful black Prada shirt-jacket on Via Montenapoleone (mamma mia!) as a “luxe souvenir” … It is sick as h*ll (and costs a lot less there than here), but even though I’m pretty certain Miucca / Raf didn’t design this shirt alone (at all?), their names are the only names on offer…
Who helped them? Who decided to make the shoulders hit JUST SO? Who spun the soft virgin wool it’s cut from, and, ay, WHO ARE THE SHEEP 🐑🐑🐑🕵️? Who sewed the s**t up so nicely, at what factory, on what kinds of machines? (Knowing the answer to these last questions helps put the next question, of whether these people were fairly paid, front and center…)
In other words: Lemme see the credits on this slapping jawn, respect the collaborators, and enjoy deeper immersion in the tightest s**t !
The Hollywood Reporter piece mentioned above — about N*tflix ditching its strategy of giving creative visionaries beaucoup cash to make not-necessarily-commercial s**t — is here.
Here are the Visvim photoessays on the Limonta nylon factory and kurume kasuri resist-dyeing. The Graziano & Gutiérrez notes about their production partners, and their artisan-a** procedures, are here.
SPYPLANE: OUT ☮️
Really dope piece. I always stick thru credits to find who the lighting supervisor or gaffers were. One of the best ways to find dope people and inspo in the entertainment design world.
Related to your thoughts on lack of transparency in terms of pricing [sic: inflated pricing], I think Transparent Hotel does a good job of explaining step by step what HIS cost are and why the items, albeit a few at this point, cost what they cost. Just some Spyplane-type noodling that occurred to me this morning. Great insight, as always 🙌🏻