mercredi, avril 4

treading trodden trails for a long, long time

so last week on FOF (fuck off friday) i discovered cracked. ok i may be the last one on the boat but i spent a very enjoyable day wasting time laughing away quietly in my little corner of the office. i turned it into one of my tabs and, this morning, flipped over to read this and had to wipe the tears from my eyes:
This is everything that's wrong with the modern media in one convenient image, for the busy modern person who needs to lose faith in humanity 'on the go'. A website dedicated to the commercials which prevent you from watching the programs on television. This is why technology hasn't done all the things it promised to, like curing cancer or constructing Killbots programmed to travel back in time and kill Steve Martin sometime after Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but before Bringing Down the House. A site dedicated to the very best in ads is like a drink brewed for the very finest of hangovers— they're focusing on a horrible unwanted side-effect and a head-injury inspired decision somewhere has somehow made it the point.

Worse, they're targeting the most annoying demographic on the planet: the "I only watch it for the ads" vacuum-headed smirkers. This is a public service announcement: SAYING YOU DO NOT LIKE SOMETHING POPULAR DOES NOT MAKE YOU INDIVIDUAL AND EDGY. It makes you dumbass— at least the unoriginal hooting herd enjoy the damn game. You're being equally unoriginal, dumber, and deliberately spending time to point out how you don't like it. Do you think a monkey that repeatedly eats stones and complains about it is the "cool, unique" monkey in among his friends? No, he's the stupid one even in a group whose main hobbies are masturbating in public and throwing shit at each other.
i had a long-running argument with a friend all through university about populist media. he had very strong ideas on the nature of 'good' music and 'good' literature. he refused to believe you could find quality or engage in active critical reading of most things present in pop culture: action movies, pop music or metal, mystery novels etc. as an aside, i wonder how he'd feel about the current popularity of the new modest mouse single? actually scratch that - he'd just say they'd sold out.*

i'm of the opinion that you can read a harlequin romance actively - approach it critically and pay attention to what is going on and what it says about society - and get more out of it than if you read, say, david foster wallace or vikram seth, or even shakespeare the way that most people read it. oprah's book club is great but if the people reading the texts don't participate in the dialogue the author is constructing between the novel and the world then they may as well be staring at a blank wall for all they are getting out of it.

furthermore, setting yourself *apart* from the mainstream by refusing to admit that you like the things that the mainstream embraces doesn't make you special, or better - it just makes you as closed-minded as a fundamentalist preacher running for senate and about as interesting. don't get me wrong - i agree that people have individual tastes and some people *don't* like popular music or movies or literature or whatever but, as someone who spent a long time in the academic world and so is rather familiar with elitist pomposity, i think that people who summarily reject *ALL* popular media are as shallow intellectually as the common masses.

i admit it - i have advanced education in literature and media and i love mystery novels. i like watching tv now and again, and love to watch hockey. i love to listen to the radio and i get really excited when a band i like becomes popular (though i'm always sad when i can't see the bands in small clubs anymore, and have to go to cavernous hockey arenas). there - i've said it. i dig pop culture. come on - say it with me. it's kinda liberating.

* saying a formerly 'alternative' or unknown band has sold out because they've achieved some level of mainstream success is a sure-fire way to throw me off on a fiery tangent of venom and proselytizing. they didn't sell out. it's the nature of the parent culture to absorb a subculture and adopt its tastes and characteristics - this is how fashion changes and evolves.