Did the Internet Kill Pop Culture?

I’m far from the greatest Michael Jackson fan of all time, but his death started some deep thoughts in my brain. I reflected upon an interesting time in my life — the 1980’s. That era had style, crazy hair, silly shoulder pads — everything was big and loud. Ronald Reagan was president. People were proud to be Americans. TV had iconic characters and shows — Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Weird Al, MacGyver, Alf, Knight Rider, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Transformers. There was so much cool stuff.

And yes, the music was great. Don’t believe me? That’s cool, but I was surprised to see Thriller at the top selling albums of all time. As I scanned the list, I was shocked to see that most of the stuff was old. It was mostly stuff from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. There’s hardly anything from after 2000, and it’s towards the bottom of the list.

How does one define this generation? What do you call it? I remember the phrase, “get with the 80’s” or “get with the 90’s” — it just doesn’t work with, “get with the zeros.” What pop icon, that saw a rise in popularity this decade, would generate the kind of press that Michael Jackson’s death received? I couldn’t think of anyone in the entertainment biz… not any musician, not any actor and certainly not anyone from Internet fame (if there is such a thing). No, probably not even that Ask A Ninja guy. He wears a mask, hiding his true identity.

There’s a key word – Internet. Pop culture is different now. There aren’t superbands like Guns n’ Roses or The Beatles. Meanwhile, TV seems to be drowning in shows where regular people pretend to be like the famous people – American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance. Why? Is the Internet to blame? Did the Internet break pop culture?

Two things happened that defined the last 10 years… the rise of the Internet and the War on Terror. Did 9/11 break the system? For a long time, I thought that was the reason for this drought of entertainment. Movies seemed dull, music seemed generic and video games seemed repetitive. No, it’s probably not 9/11, war seems to have a way of inspiring artists. It even made many Americans extremely patriotic, at least before the war on Iraq started.

Maybe it was me? Maybe I’m becoming a cranky old man. Maybe it’s my turn to complain about the next generation like the generations before me. Yet, my generation is the tech generation. We teach those baby boomers how to use modern devices. For the first time in history, the younger generation has more knowledge than the one preceding it… at least in matters of technology. That makes us pretty awesome, so why does the newer music seem so dull in comparison to the past?

Where’s the modern equivalent of Jimi Hendrix and Slash, or were they just too awesome? Come on double-zero’s era! With all the copies of Guitar Hero and Rock Band sold, there must be at least one awesome guitarist out there. When does the imitation stop and the real talent emerge?

One thought on “Did the Internet Kill Pop Culture?”

  1. I agree with you about 90%. I do agree that Internet was the major factor that killed pop culture. But I don’t think a new culture boom can actually come out of the internet. A lot of cool stuff is going on, but the thing is: choices. Like you said, theres no programming schedule, so people can surf freely. That means their in control of what they watch. I like that idea, but unfortunately it has major consequences for trying to build up a superstar. I’m not that disapointed with it, but I didn’t grow up with superstars really. I don’t give the flip of a coin about what child bradjolina is adopting. And I think this Michael Jackson stuff should have stopped after the second day. I would have preferred to see the bills they were passing in congress… You know the whole Cap’N’Trade thing, and the extra taxes and whatnot. Yes, I would have preferred that over a 4th day of people saying “Michael Jackson is dead.” I think we got it after the first day, and all the lag-behind people got it the second. Really, whos benefiting from all this press? The star is dead, move on…

    I seem to be digressing… Anyhow, with people having the free choice of surfing the web, the superstar will be born only if enough people know about it. Thats where advertising triples its role. With potentially unlimited websites, how do you know which one you want to go to? Advertising. With 200 channels its easy to see whats on and whats not. But with 5000 websites you are making a choice to what you want to view. Thats how Google controls the internet… *insert crazy phrase here* So what if there are no more superstars, who needs em? Their just pop idols.

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