Relaxing after a (not-so) hard day’s work yesterday, I thought to myself, This pop culture malarkey’s all a bit fucking silly ain’t it?
Yup much of what I grew up liking, much of what I currently like, much of what dominates the shelves in my local newsagent and local HMV strikes me as…somewhat pointless.
This does not mean that I like what I like any the less; I simply thought of the more productive things I could do with my time as opposed to reading (or rather, taking in news) about has-been celebrities with malfunctioning follicles, pre-ordering the next Marilyn Manson and Static-X albums and wondering whether or not to go to the latest DevilDriver gig.
I mean, many people place so much stock into these cultural confectioneries and even go as far to use them as identity markers, to mark out their distinction "from the herd", as it were…..
….BUT very often when one looks at a raised middle finger – particularly if that finger belongs to an adolescent – you’ll see the strings lifting it to high heaven.
Peeps take the teenage years, and everything that comes with them, for granted today; yet how many people observe the fact that the Teen, as we know him (or her) , exists largely as a result of cultural conditioning? Hell, prior to the 50s, such a thing never existed! Things such as charts and the like simply went unheard of.
I wonder if teenagers (particularly Western teens) prior to the 50s behaved significantly differently to those that came after them; did they generally exhibit higher levels or maturity, self-control, autonomy and purpose than we did? Than the generation that currently exist?
One of the greatest doublethinks we currently have right now is the fetishization of the teenage years as A Time of Great Rebellion and Individuality(TM); when one looks at the way teenagers typically behave, one finds oneself wondering why common wisdom often proves to be an oxymoron. Teenagers indeed do rebel against the adults that raised them and the authority figures that lord it over them – yet what the fuck do they, as a group, have to offer as an improved paradigm? Most often you see adolescents bemoaning they grey conformity of their elders, only to huddle together in their herds of newer, shinier groupthinkers. Watch them get oh-so deep ‘n’ meaningful over the latest PC causes, such as the superficiality of the media machine – and then judge those around them by the yardsticks of youthfulness, dress sense, musical tastes, looks…..
Youth culture – a tragicomedy without the canned laughter!
And of course, I can’t neglect the countercultures that "rise up" in response to the superficiality of whatever the dominant youth culture espouses. Even given my own bias here, I will say that in many ways what peeps call counterculture merely inverts whatever gets offered up as the mainstream – hell, even the phrase "alternative" says all that needs to be said here, does it not? One can only judge oneself as such from the perspective and standards of the mainstream muppets, no? For all the protests made by counterculturalists against the mainstream, the reality is that both remain locked in a symbiotic, mutually-reinforcing relationship that shows no signs of severance any time soon.
(Amongst the counterculture, the most amusing spectacle remains the alternatives who rally against the commercialism, conformity and consumerism of the mainstream,all the while dressed up in their mass-produced Che T-shirts and listening to the latest peer-group approved anti-corporate band on their factory assembled, multimillion-selling personal music device. You guys only fool each other – and the person you see when you look in the mirror!)
And the winners? The authority figures supplicating the clone colonies in their war of trend without end. Play the organ, get them to dance, take the cash, dole out the peanuts – and run like fun! It works, to their credit – these guys milk the infantlization inherent in pop culture for all its fiscally-enriching goodness….
Yes, I love the new Machine Head and NIN albums; yes, I look forward to Manson’s newie; yes, I still think the 80s as the best era for mainstream popular music culture yet…..
….but these remain a fraction of my loves, values, wants and desires; an enriching and much loved fraction, but a fraction nowt-the-less….
There remain other things I can fit into my time alive – and it bodes well for me to remember that….