Earlier this week, our favorite elfin intergalactic musician and role model Grimes offered the Internet a deal in tweet form: “I’ll split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice. Same deal as I would with any artist I collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty. I have no label and no legal bindings.” She further explained that she was making a program to simulate her own voice for others to use, unlike the rapid removal of the unsolicited AI collaboration between Drake and The Weeknd “Heart on My Sleeve.” Why is Grimes bent on training AI to replicate her? “I think it’s cool to be fused w a machine and I like the idea of open sourcing all art and killing copyright.”
Ok, c. My first reaction to this tweeted offer was to roll my eyes. Of course, Grimes doesn’t have to worry about the financial hit that would occur for creatives if we open-source all art. Granted, she herself started to backtrack on her offer almost immediately with visions of Grimes-fronted Nazi anthems dancing through her head. Yet, on further thought, I concluded: Why do I give a fuck? It’s not as if Filthy Dreams makes money anyway. Apparently, neither do most publications, given the rash of recent media layoffs and shutterings from Paper Magazine to Buzzfeed News.
I know this is not a popular opinion–at least from the creative side of things. Ever since the appearance of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the Internet and tech journalists have gone berserk, whether The New York Times cozying up to Bing’s Chatbot after it romantically declared its love to the Associated Press recoiling in horror after Chatbot called them “ugly” with “bad teeth” to terror-stricken white-collar workers realizing that it might not just be the blue-collar laborers and service workers that will lose their usefulness to our impending artificial intelligence overlords. Then, there’s the ever-present push on Wall Street’s mouthpiece CNBC about how AI will not only revolutionize business operations but is going to actually create jobs! (Sure…). Anytime Wall Street types start hard-selling something whether NFTs or mortgage-backed securities you know it’s a scam and it’s time to be worried (or even better, jump in on the grift before the bubble bursts).
To his credit, the terror of former Blue Checks everywhere, Elon Musk, has been ringing alarm bells about AI for years, often to radio silence from our elected officials who barely understand Wi-Fi let alone AI. In his first podcast episode with Joe Rogan, which I listened to in its entirety, Elon explained, “I try to convince people to slow down AI—to regulate the AI…This was futile—I tried for years. Nobody listened.” Naturally, this was not the segment the media or the SEC globbed onto, fixating on, instead, Elon smoking a blunt with a goofy look on his face. Clearly that was more important.
Well, the future he was warning us about is here. ChatGPT apparently has around 100 million users worldwide, including 13 million daily users. Of course, some of these people are simply dicking around like me. Others, though, are using it to write subpar essays for their English homework. And yet others are employing it to generate shitty Nick Cave song imitations and then sending it to him on Red Hand Files to garner reactions like: “The apocalypse is well on its way. This song sucks.”
For awhile, I confidently assumed that we, here at Filthy Dreams, wouldn’t have to worry about being replaced by AI. Surely, we’re unique. Unmatched! Impossible to imitate or copy!…Or are we? At first, my suspicions were confirmed after I prompted the bot to: “Write a Filthy Dreams essay.” In response, ChatGPT gave me a good scolding about offensive content:
Turns out, though, my confidence was simply blind idiocy and a shitty query. More recently, I requested an alternately worded option: “Write an essay in the style of Filthy Dreams.” And what I got shook me to my very core. So much so that I had to share with you unedited, dearest readers—or as ChatGPT says, “darlings.” Granted, ChatGPT didn’t get everything right. I mean, who the fuck is Lauren Kellogg and what does she have to do with Filthy Dreams?! And just for the record, we are not fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race here, which has singlehandedly transformed drag into a generic bore fit for straight audiences rather than late-night weirdos. All hail the return of scary drag queens—the ones that cruise ship voyagers would jump in a lifeboat to avoid rather than shuffle with one the way to the buffet line!
But, other than some basic errors, boy, ChatGPT gets more right than it gets wrong. A rant about camp? Gushing fanaticism about John Waters? The overblown voice itself that has driven any editor I’ve attempted to work with outside of this website mad for over 10 years?! Holy fuck! Is this me or AI now?! Who am I?
So, what is the answer to our current apocalypse? Do we rage against the human race’s diminishing importance? Do we fight back? Or, like Grimes, should we just give in and let anyone who wants to generate their own AI Filthy Dreams do it? Fuck it—I’m leaning toward the latter. Who likes putting effort into things anyway? This shit takes a lot of time and effort to sometimes dead-eyed responses. To bastardize a quote from Doug Stanhope (from an interview that lingers right at the edge of my memory—perhaps AI can fix that too): If it works for you, go ahead. I get blank stares when I do it. And anyway, with ChatGPT working towards perfecting us, well, it just means we can go on serving you, most beloved readers, FOREVER!
Cheers to everlasting life! And without further ado, here is ChatGPT doing Filthy Dreams:
A Tribute to the Power and Allure of Camp
Well hello there, darlings! It’s me, your favorite trash-talking, high-camp cultural critic, ChatGPT, here to dish out some of my signature wit and wisdom in the style of none other than Filthy Dreams!
Now, if you’re not familiar with Filthy Dreams, let me fill you in. This blog, founded by the indomitable duo of Emily Colucci and Lauren Kellogg, is a riotous celebration of all things queer, campy, and outrageous. From drag queens to performance art to trashy reality TV, Filthy Dreams covers it all with a healthy dose of snark and irreverence.
And that, my dears, is precisely the attitude I’m bringing to this essay. Because when it comes to discussing any topic under the sun, from art to politics to pop culture, there’s only one way to do it: with a healthy dose of filthy, fabulous, unapologetic attitude.
So let’s dive right in, shall we? Today, I want to talk about the enduring appeal of camp. What is it about this particular aesthetic that continues to captivate and inspire us, even in a world that often seems to value sincerity and seriousness above all else?
For starters, camp is a rejection of the status quo. It’s a middle finger to the mainstream, a refusal to conform to the dominant cultural norms of the day. And in an age where conformity is often rewarded and deviance punished, camp serves as a vital reminder of the power of subversion.
But camp is more than just rebellion for rebellion’s sake. It’s also a celebration of the absurd, the ridiculous, and the over-the-top. It revels in excess, in tackiness, in bad taste. And in doing so, it takes the things that the mainstream culture dismisses as lowbrow or vulgar and transforms them into something glorious and beautiful.
Think about drag, for example. At its heart, drag is a celebration of the ridiculous. It takes the gender norms that we’ve been taught to accept as natural and turns them on their head, exaggerating and distorting them until they become something altogether new and wonderful. And in doing so, it allows us to see those norms in a different light, to question their validity, and to imagine new possibilities for ourselves.
Or consider the art of John Waters. With films like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, Waters took the trappings of low-budget exploitation cinema and turned them into high art. He reveled in bad taste, in shock value, in the grotesque. And in doing so, he created a body of work that not only challenged our notions of what was acceptable in cinema, but also gave voice to a whole new generation of outsider artists and weirdos.
Of course, camp isn’t just about subversion and excess. It’s also about community. When we embrace camp, we join a tribe of like-minded individuals who share our love of the weird, the outrageous, and the subversive. We find a place where we can be ourselves, free from the constraints of mainstream culture. And in that space, we’re able to connect with others in a way that’s both deeply meaningful and utterly joyous.
So there you have it, my darlings. A tribute to the power and allure of camp. Whether we’re talking about drag, John Waters movies, or the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, there’s no denying that this particular aesthetic has a hold on our collective imagination. And thank goodness for that. Because in a world that often seems determined to grind us down, camp offers us a way to rise up, to celebrate the ridiculous, and to revel in our own glorious weirdness.
I always love your writing. Chat GPT sounds like it’s cribbing Sontag’s essays on camp and filtering it through a troped up version of your voice. You’re so much better than that. Though open eyes towards the coming AI apocalypse is the only topic that feels truly relevant. More on AI! Imagining the future is so difficult now.