Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You know what really grinds my gears?

Fair warning: I am older and more crotchety now.
So I thought I would take this opportunity to vent forth my disdain for certain aspects of our postmodern age.

Gangbanger culture.  Of course there are great rap and hip-hop songs, but so much of that musical scene has become intertwined with gangs and crime that it has become difficult for me to enjoy any of it.  This culture of violence and ignorance is continually fostered by clothing designers, record producers, and video directors.  I am all for freedom of speech, but when it threatens my family...I don't know.  Pop music has been blamed as a corrupting factor in our society for a long time now, all the way back to Elvis.  But these thugs are actually killing people.  What's more, I'd like to make an artistic comparison.  Glam metal of the late 1980s was driven out of town in disgrace...and with good reason.  They wore garish outfits, had redundant videos of sports cars and women in next to nothing, and their songs were all about sex.
So what's hip hop doing right now?

Music critics.  I've never understood their worldview.  It seems that there is an unassailable canon of bands and solo artists that are beyond reproach.  Simultaneously, there is an entire swath of musicians that will never gain any critical respect regardless of whatever they do.  Now I am admittedly possessed of wide and weird musical tastes.  I am a fan of both REM and Def Leppard.  But if Def Leppard released a record that was every bit as brilliant as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, I seriously doubt they would get proper acclaim for it.  Whereas REM could release a 45 minute album of nothing but guitar feedback and the critics would call it "not as good as their more seminal work, but a vital effort."  Try figuring that one out.  Perhaps it is as Nick Rhodes says: "Critics like bands that are made for boys.  Duran Duran is for girls and for boys...and anyone else in between."
Maybe it isn't "boys" as much as worshiping bands like Wilco and hole-in-the-wall blues players (and you know who you are Greg Kot.)

"Literary" vs "genre."  While in grad school, this was a perennial sore point of mine.  The Academy has a well-ingrained sense of false superiority in regards to certain kinds of literature.  Author Michael Chabon summed it up pretty well by aping an English professor's statement: "I've never really read science fiction, but it sucks and here's why..."  That's right.  If you write science fiction or any of the other categories of fiction found in a typical Borders, you are merely a commercial hack.  Yet if you fall into the "literature" category, you're golden.  Your Pushcart Prize awaits.  So what defines "literary" writing?  Offhand, I'd say it has to do with subject matter.  Namely, is the book an irony-laden narrative of a dysfunctional family?  Jonathan Franzen's much lauded new book may be a work of unparalleled genius, but I have no desire to read it as it is apparently about just that.  Way to break new ground!  Oh yes, it will also help your book if your protagonist takes drugs and bemoans all of their complicated relationships.

Humans are the only intelligent species on Earth.  This fallacious and arrogant philosophy has grown quite tiresome with me.  Any idiot can tell that animals are both intelligent and self-aware.  They might even have complex thoughts that we can't know of due to communication barriers.  Several species of mammals, such as apes, dolphins, and whales, have been found to have intelligence on par with that of humans.  I realize that much of this "we are special and at the top of the food chain" attitude stems from Biblical fundamentalism, but I don't care.  More on this in a future post.

Driving.  I've never really liked it and it is especially loathsome here in the Chicago area where the traffic is dense and the actions of drivers amount to little more than a form of dick waving.  I never even wanted a car. While boys would be salivating over race car photos in elementary school, I'd be looking at spaceships, jet fighters, or even dinosaurs.  Driving is just something I do as a necessary evil.  Oh for when transporters are finally developed.

Loud cell phone talkers in public.  This one is self-explanatory.  I will, however, make an exception for the one young lady I couldn't help but overhear in the lobby of a local community college as she insisted to her current beau that her ex-boyfriend only took lingerie shots of her and never nudes.  Yes, I only pretended to be reading John Shirley at that point.

Vapid business/office people.  Bless you on your merry way, but I'm afraid we will never see eye to eye.

Oh and lest I forget, people who speak almost entirely in TV and movie references...or title their blog posts after them. :)

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

1 comment:

  1. On Facebook, The New Wave Priest said:
    "Good call on Literary vs. genre. The irony is that 'literary fiction' has kind of become so rigidly defined that it practically is a genre. Meanwhile 'genre fiction' seems to have become less rigidly defined and split off into a multitude o...f sub-genres catering to niches that I didn't even know existed.

    Also, I wish those damn kids would stay off my lawn."

    You and me both, Priest. You and me both.


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