Jon Dieringer, 2012.
USA. 111 min.


This is Mean Streets, otherwise untouched, with the pop songs ripped out replaced by amateur cover versions from YouTube—25 in all directly corresponding to the original. The result is a wholesale dismantling of authorship, cinematic space, expectation, and the intellectual property of The Rolling Stones, Ltd., whose songs—and music of other genres including early rock, soul, doo wop, rhythm and blues, Cazone Napoletana, opera and salsa—are now performed variously by wayward narcoleptics, fried teenagers, amateur tenors, Polish pre-teen beauty pageant contestants, hip dads and people testing out new keyboards. An analysis of vicarious cultural production as practiced by Martin Scorsese, YouTube performers, and the artist, Tough Guys is also a joyous paean to egalitarianism and the enduring, irrepressible folk underpinnings of tight-assed corporate culture.

The Scorsesean 'needle drop' style of scoring with pop music inspired a whole new branch of the film industry—a mammoth bureaucracy of rights, licensing, music supervisors, clearance coordinators and entertainment lawyers with attendant opportunities for marketing and brand synergy between corporate film and music; Tough Guys elbows its way toward an imagined alternative space.

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