Published January 30, 2016
Tags: Pop Culture
Thomas Couture, Romans in the Decadence of the Empire (1847)
Whenever a well-known person passes a few likely characters rush to the social media forefront to offer commentary: There’ll be longtime admirers offering condolences; heartfelt paeans that reduce to: “I didn’t know the deceased personally, but their work provided a welcomed respite from the mundane, beat-to-predictable-beat of existence and/or is inextricably linked to some profound moments in my life. For that I am eternally thankful.” Responding to them will be the ‘contrarians’ sharing stories about the well-known person’s living indiscretions, or sarcastically asking: “Where were all these tears when [BLANK] died or [BLANK] happened?,” or referring to the condolence-offerers as ‘sheep’ or ‘stupid’ for grieving for someone they didn’t ‘really’ know. (They may also cumbersomely shoehorn their agendas into these rebukes.) And lastly, there’ll be a contingent of coldly detached folks offering annoyingly professorial, above-it-all, highly presumptuous opinions about all involved.
The rub: The fact that the well-known person is the beacon that brings all these diverse peoples together is a profound testament to the luminary’s broad cultural appeal. Each one of these people—no matter the positive or negative ‘natures’ of their expressions—are ‘equally’ mystified participants in an orgy of public ‘reaction’ to a ‘singular’ event.
Whenever you wanna pretend like you’re a time traveler from the early 80s play this through some headphones while walking around a hyper modern city. Like one with a high volume of sharply-detailed moving images advertising an assortment of different life enhancements featuring meticulously coiffured beings that look very little like the creatures walking about you; the ones who are either contemplating the light that magically emanates from their palms or talking animatedly into the air as if they’re exalting personal gods.
I wonder if the damn near global deification of ‘light’ skin has less to do with the self-aggrandizing PR that the West has spread around the world and more to do with a ‘simple,’ primal relationship with literal light and dark. Primarily our prehistoric understanding of light’s capacity to illuminate dark scary places (this dynamic likely influenced the arrogance and entitlement that led to the wag-the-dog PR). Just think about it: We’ve only been ‘light creators‘ for a relatively short period of time. Before that we were hyper dependent on the sun to ‘save‘ us from the darkness (hence our pedantically precise measurements of light and dark; see: solstices, equinoxes).
We coveted the light and feared the dark; and since we’ve never really overcame this fear the fact that the peoples who look ‘like’ the light are considered ‘right’ while those who mirror the darkness are considered ‘wrong’ kinda makes evolutionary sense. But here’s the ironic—possible existential crisis—causing rub: The peoples who evolved under the sun’s most intense wrath (the literal Eden gardeners) developed a defense from it. A ‘dark’ defense. I wonder if our ancestors who decided to leave the equatorial region to settle in more more temperate climates where they ‘lightened’ up—prior to leaving—thought this was an ‘offense’ (a curse) and the transformation they experienced as well as their ‘discovery’ of ‘new’ seasons only confirmed this. Oh, and enduring shit like this probably corroborated their king-of-the-hill self perception; solidified their chosen-one status.
One thing I found really intriguing about the new Star Wars flick—other than the aggressively visceral and ‘tactile’ nature of it (which took me a minute to ‘adjust’ to)—was how it was a winking ‘meta’ remix of the original trilogy; much in the same way “Super 8” (another Abram’s flick) was a ‘meta’ remix of early Spielberg. In “Super 8” the wink-and-a’nod came via the group of ‘inspired’ young filmmakers making a monster movie within a monster movie; in “The Force Awakens” it is Kylo Ren being a kind of whiny surrogate for the ‘whiny’ fanboys who have—over the last decade and some change—incessantly (and maybe rightfully) bitched about the Lucas-helmed prequels not being ‘like’ the original trilogy. Kylo wants to be Vader just as much as they wanted the prequels to invoke the spirit of episodes IV-VI.
In a way this ‘Kylo’s Planet Rock to Vader’s Trans-Europe Express‘ dynamic kind of ‘excuses’ the film’s liberal sampling as a Vader analog would of course have similar intentions, wear similar garb, don a similar helmet and have a similar super weapon at his disposal as well as inspire a similar response to his actions. Brilliant stuff. Another hip thing about this is how it affords new fans a kind of greatest-hits ‘if you like this you’re gonna LOVE the first three’ introduction to the franchise. Gets them excited and full of anticipation to see—not just the next ‘new’ one (which will likely present a ‘unique’ story), but the original trilogy as well.
Published January 8, 2016
Tags: The Sublime
When they said: “You think you know it all.”
I SHOULD’VE said: “I’m sorry if the confident way in which I asserted myself made you feel ashamed of the gaps in your knowledge and/or inability—dictated by a fearful speculation of what others may think—to assert yourself in a similarly confident manner. But more importantly, NO, I do not think I know it all. If I did that would make me a delusional asshole. Truth is, I am actually full of—often crippling—self doubt; to combat this I sometimes assert opinions sans encumbering doubtful modifiers like ‘I think’ and ‘some people.’ Not only does this help me overcome my I-wonder-what-people-would-think-if-they-knew-I-thought-this-way fears, but due to their emphatic this-is-the-way-it-is nature these perspectives may also provoke impassioned responses; responses that have the potential to edify me, expand my worldview.”
To which they would’ve probably responded with: “That sounds like some shit a know-it-all would say.”
Published January 8, 2016
Tags: The Sublime
“Goddamnit, why don’t you just shut the hell up already?! Learn to deal with your shit! Like me. I deal with my shit just fine. You’re just weak and no, I’m not just saying this because what you’re saying is making me feel a little unsure about my bullshit coping methods, I’M REALLY FUCKING OKAY!!!!!”