Monday, September 8, 2008

I Am Freakin' Old

Once upon a time, I was actually a pretty hip person. Pop culture was my bitch -- whether it was movies or tv or music. I was often the person who "found" new music before it became popular. I read all the cool magazines, watched MTV religiously, and knew all the words to all the cool indie songs.

Well, folks, that's all over. I watched MTV's Video Music Awards from last night, and by the end of the ceremony, I was close to tears. I felt every single one of my 36 years -- and probably some of YOUR years, too. I would guess that I hadn't heard of about 80% of the acts that performed or won awards. Of the 20% I had heard of, I probably couldn't name a single song by most of them -- I just had HEARD of them. To make it even worse, when these bands I'd never heard of did perform, I was sort of digusted by what I saw. Whether it was just gross looking people (like that Lil Wayne with his pants down around his knees) or horrible sounding music (like those Jonas Brothers), it was just horrifying. I would guess that three acts were actually entertaining -- Pink who always kicks ass, Christina Aguilera who rivals Pink in that department, and Paramore (the spelling mistake is theirs, not mine) whom I had never heard of before but who were really cool -- reminding me of Heart if Heart had had more of a punk edge. I kept waiting for them to break into "Barracuda." The lead singer had incredible stage presence, and the song they performed was just really great.

On top of my complete ignorance where the acts were concerned, though, the VMA's were a huge disappointment. There were no surprises, no moments that made you gasp -- unless you count host Russell Brand (who the frick is Russell Brand?) calling George Bush "retarded." I can remember the days when the VMA's kept you on the edge of your seat and was all you could talk about the next day. Remember when Nirvana's Krist Novoselic nearly knocked himself out when he flung his bass in the air and clocked himself in the head. Remember Michael and Lisa Marie's kiss? Pee Wee's return? Every single time Britney ever took the stage? Every single time Madonna took the stage? Guns-n-Roses shocking return? There wasn't a single moment like that. The whole thing felt scripted -- if the script had been written by the people behind Hannah Montana. (In my day, Miley Cyrus would never have been allowed within 10 miles of the VMA's let alone be nominated for Best New Artist.)
Even more disappointing was the fact that the presenters made constant reference to the fact that it was the 25th anniversary of the VMA's, yet outside of that lip service, there was little recognition given to the vast history of the show. Would a little retrospective of past Video of the Year award winners have been so hard to put together? (And how cool would it have been to see something like that) Maybe a performance or two from some of the acts that made the VMA's survive 25 years? Where the heck was Madonna? Aerosmith? Red Hot Chili Peppers? Pearl Jam? Yeah, I'm a history geek who loves those sorts of retrospectives and who has always been very interested in the history of pop culture and not just the present of pop culture. I can sing commercial jingles of products that ceased to exist before I was even born. And it continually frustrates me with my students that they have no awareness of the "classics." I've had students seriously ask me "Who is Jimi Hendrix?" The day is probably coming very soon when they ask "Who was Kurt Cobain?" And a portion of the blame for this belongs to MTV who had the opportunity to embrace its history last night and instead gave us this lame mishmash.
Sigh. I guess I'd better call my mom and apologize to her for all those arguments we had when I was young over MTV and the music they played. She may not have been right (Madonna will ALWAYS rule!), but at least I understand now what she was going through.


NICKI said...

I embrace my "oldness". I used to be like you (though my rural upbringing did not allow luxuries such as "cable" and MTV was treasured viewing at my friend's or grandparent's houses). How many of the CD's of your youth do you still listen to? Sure, there are the Pearl Jams and the Nirvanas, but there was also a lot of crap you probably bought because you heard one cool song. Here are a few from my collection:
"Ace of Base", "The Badlees", "Better Than Ezra", and "Dishwalla" - and that's just A-D! In fact, we probably don't have much overlap of crap, since you're, like, as old as my boyfriend!
I like to think that I have more discriminating tastes now. I still love finding new music. I just make sure I listen to a few more songs before I buy the album. Sure, my new attitude no longer fits into MTV's business model, but I do not despair. There are lots of independent radio stations out there that cater to me! (Do you have a station that airs "World Cafe"? It's definitely worth a listen - I hear great new music all the time! And the best part? They sort through the "Jonas Brothers" of the world and just let us listen to the "Paramores")

Mel said...

No, you're right. There's a lot of music I loved when I was young that I never listen to anymore. The greats remain -- Nirvana, U2, REM, the Chili Peppers, Madonna (She and I go sooooo far back that I couldn't leave her if I tried), but the rest have floated away. When I moved, I got rid of a TON of CDs that I once LOVED but realized I hadn't listened to in years. Thank goodness for i-tunes and all those download services. That way, I can download Duffy or Paramore or Vampire Weekend without getting stuck with a CD that I never listen to.

Of course, it was also kind of nice to finally hear some of these bands. All I knew of the Jonas Brothers was that apparently one of them is going to marry one of my Drama Club kids -- only he doesn't know it yet. Or so she says.

Danielle Mari said...

Those Jonas Brothers get around... one apparently is betrothed to a student of mine!

Don't feel bad about the music. Don't feel bad about getting old. Just start practicing how you'll shout,"GIT OFF MY LAWN YOU KIDS!"

Danielle Mari said...

Oh... and I like it introduced me to some new folks. (New to an old lady like me.)

Now go git mama her reaching stick! S'almost time for my stories!