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?