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SALE OF THE CENTURY: MALCOLM MCLAREN

IF YOU SEE MALCOLM MCLAREN’S new video piece, Paris: Capital of the XXIst Century, you’ll be telling people about it the next day. Like this:

Malcolm McLaren, Paris: Capital of the XXIst Century, 2010, still from a color video transferred from archival footage, 58 minutes. Chapter 3, “Parodie Parapluies de Cherbourg” (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Parody).

A TALL, NERDY-LOOKING GUY with big, dark-rimmed glasses—sort of a French Buddy Holly—walks into an airy, well-lit Paris boutique. It seems to have just opened; in the background, there’s a painter on a ladder. The salesman, an Alfred Molina type in a purple sweater, smiles: “Vous désirez?” Light romantic music comes up; the customer executes a jaunty balletic step as if he’s been waiting all day for the chance to do just that and begins to sing about how he wants a gift to surprise his wife. The salesman sings back that he has just the thing—“My wife’s trying it right now”and holds up a roll of toilet paper. He places it on a countertop so the man can examine it; the man picks it up, dancing backward and singing, holding the roll to his mouth like a microphone. As the camera pulls back, you notice that all the shelves in the place are filled with rolls of toilet

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