Thursday, January 31, 2008

A whYkid's Guide to Enlightenment

Popular culture dominates the whYkids’ realm and souses our minds. This certainly is not a new manifestation for the youth culture – Fitzgerald had his Jazz Age, Kesey had his era of groovy, etc. – but it certainly feels like pop culture has crested. It’s no longer utilized as a narcissistic escape; pop culture now trumps both high culture and arch culture in terms of forcing itself upon the modern youth’s development. Recognizing movie quotes from Adam Sandler movies and rattling off lyrics from Jay-Z’s early albums establishes a whYkid’s au courant credentials, much more so than being able to name a country in South America. Recognizing a sonata by Chopin probably will never be considered cool again – but pointing out that the actor who played Borat is engaged to the crazy redhead from Wedding Crashers certainly is. Being defined as indie, as in dependent musical tastes found via independent labels, is cooler. And being so well-versed in the fashion twists of the emo subculture that you can blather on about the gel integrity of the faux-hawk haircut cannot be anything but the coolest.

Ron Burgundy and Abe Lincoln are equals for the modern youth who seeks to be well-rounded. By constantly being bombarded by the hip and the now, pop culture has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It’s beyond one channel, one magazine, or one label by now – pop culture is the new oral history (in terms of historical solidity), as everything a whYkid does or desires to do must be related to something we’ve seen, read, or listened to for it to be considered genuine or real. Trends don’t end anymore, they swell across e-America like the Mongols spread across Eurasia, branching out into a multitude of subgenres and nuances only fat, bald music executives and thirteen-year old girls can follow. The seeds planted by MTV twenty-five years ago have sprouted into a Laguna Beach rainforest of fleeting glitz and shameless self-promotion, where paper paparazzi tigers stalk willing victims with golden hair and vintage purses, where the founders of MySpace and Facebook are viewed as baboon oracles of self-presentation, and David Hasslehoffs long thought dead swing again from hanging YouTube vines. If that analogy disturbs you – as it should – try to remember that things could be worse. At least the two Coreys have been regulated to the minor leagues of VH1 in the yawning Tens of the new millennia.

Has it always been like this? Who am I to say it hasn’t? We only live once, and thus, only develop in one generational era. As an amateur scholar who dabbles in social history though, I have to believe that this glut and superabundance directly results from the excess of the 1980’s. Stupid Brat Pack with their stupid cocaine abuse and their stupid electric mullets and their stupid synthesized rock. I thought the whole Seattle grunge gig killed off all that ardor for excess circa 1991 … but then along came the internet, and quicker than HST rambled into bat country, a whole new threshold for mass media consumption sprung an e-moonbow of instant gratification and catalogued information. All glamour, no tangibility or substance. This is more than just another scrap in humanity’s social indulgences, however; it’s also a scientific statement on an already known natural law. Gravity does not function in reverse: what goes up must come down, but what goes down does not have to come up.

I’d explain what the hell that even means, but I need to check out if the rumor about Radiohead releasing their catalogue on iTunes is true or not. I’ve downloaded 4,347 songs in preparation for the deployment, and am always scrounging the music library for more.

Nothing says legit like a diverse music library. And you’re damn sure LT G be legit, yo. Trend on.


Anonymous said...

Spot on observations Lt. I note, as you did, that the dissemination of popular culture is through the mass media. But, as you imply, and to paraphrase Bertrand Russell, it nevertheless remains our own decision whether to voluntarily submit to such unnecessary tyranny.
Stay safe and as authentically legit as you are!

Turbo said...

"All glamour, no tangibility or substance." Well said. And, although you may be right that "recognizing a sonata by Chopin probably will never be considered cool again" I believe you might appreciate what he said in regards to the British: [They] are so surrounded by the boredeom of conventionalities that it is all one to them, whether music is good or bad, since they have to hear it from morning till night." (ah, the mass media, ah popular taste, ah the British)

Mike said...

"but what goes down does not have to come up."

....that's what she said? Or maybe he, I'm not entirely sure.

Lt. C said...

G...your love for all things Avril works against any legitimacy you've established with the rest of your music library.

Good post, breaks up the monotony of being trapped in the corporatocracy.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Eric said...

"Video killed the radio star"

Where were you when you first saw that?

The first 2 years of MTV was something else.

One thing to think about: Pop culture is also youth culture, and we try to hold on to our youth as much as we can. A whole lot of people are determined not to grow old. (Or grow up, for that matter.)

Stay safe LT.

Dice D said...

As early as the 1920s, someone said that the main characteristic of our era is "massed information." The worst result is benumbed passivity, "a patient etherized upon a table." The best is an engaged person informing herself selectively at many cultural levels and then making something that gives a fresh perspective. But you know that.

Michael said...

Good Observation, the culture that stands for nothing will stand for anything. What you describe is a cancer.