Thursday, February 20, 2014

Let's See How Times Have Changed Since the Death of Kurt Cobain.

'I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?'
I remember watching a documentary about years in the style of Behind the Music which started with a music journalist saying that '1994 was the beginning of some seriously shallow times', and has it yet ended. Have we gone back to that golden age which we briefly grasped on to in the early 90's? Probably not. It's a question of artifice vs. the genuine. And it seems like artifice is winning and not in the good way where rebellion against the 'truth' of the late 60's which was chalk full of hypocrisy was replaced by glitter, glam, and unapologetic facade culture of the 70's, where disco ruled, men wore fingernail polish, and cocaine was all the rage. 

Perhaps one of the most disgusting manifestations of the new millenium is the rise of the hipster. 
But let's go back to 1994. It was the pinnacle year that defined that decade really. I remember one of the more recent episodes of Parks and Recreation where Leslie Knope in her 'over the top' fashion decides to throw her husband the best themed birthday party ever, and considering his favorite time period was the EARLY 90's which is always emphasized. Therefore, there's R.E.M. playing everywhere, Ann dresses as Blossom and Ben is seen sporting his favorite Letters to Cleo t-shirt. Why is the 'early' part of that decade emphasized? Because I don't think Ben or any of us were fans of the 'late' 90's. With Aqua, Chumbawamba, and the Spice Girls topping the charts, heroin chic being the standard of thinness that women had to aspire to, and Titanic (1997) about to break every box office record ever set, it was not a time to look forward to or to remember fondly. 

Perhaps one of the worst moments of the 90's. 
I suppose that when Kurt Cobain died in April of 1994, he took the idealism, merit, and spirit (no pun intended) of the early part of that decade with him. Just like when the free concert featuring The Rolling Stones in Altamont in 1969 was the death nail of 60's. It's like he knew he had his brief moment in the sun and the rest of time he just wouldn't fit into nor wanted to be a part of. 
Now almost exactly 20 years after his death, we have not taken any lessons of those magical few years with us. We are now the technological revolution, where 22 year olds become billionaires in a matter of months by inventing Facebook, everyone in the world stares at their smartphones while walking into oncoming traffic not giving a shit, and every single person spends their days, even if unemployed , hunched over a computer screen. 
If we really examine it, what's missing the most is original content of popular culture. Everything is as Edward Norton eloquently put it in a film I love to hate (Fight Club (1999)); a copy of a copy of a copy. Every song is a remix or a sample of something that came before it, every film is either a remake or a reboot or a running franchise of a book that probably was published only a year prior. It's very basic. We've run out of ideas. Cobain's perhaps most poignant lesson was that of celebrity. The word 'celebrity comes from the idea of celebrating someone obviously. And now that we have things like 'celebutantes' 'internet celebrities' and 'reality celebrities' it's really quite depressing if we truly examine in. Why is it that we celebrate these people? Because they have a litter of children? Because they have an insane amount of plastic surgery? Because they are able to be famous without actually doing anything? The latter rhetorical question perhaps being the most important. Cobain came from an age where not only did you have to be able to do something well, you had to have something new to say, and have to be able to reach everyone on a gut level rather than a 'oh, that's fun' level. 

A picture worth a thousand words
And perhaps our gut level doesn't even exist anymore. We've packed it so tightly with fluff like Bravo, designer handbags, and Seth Rogen movies that we can't tell nor do we care if we even like it or not. We eat it up. It's the fast food of the soul. And the soul devours it with pleasure because the soul has lost all sense of self. A person isn't a person anymore, he/she is a franchise, a commodity. We have transitioned from being human to being in a state of the 'post-human'. We live our lives out on the internet and tell our inner most thoughts to our blogs and twitter feeds. And the saddest end to all of this is that there is no end in sight. The problem doesn't seem like there will be a rebellion of 'the genuine' any time soon because we are all basically hypnotized by the 'hyper-real' or 'the meta', that we don't care if we die tomorrow, because we know that our death wouldn't have an impact on culture like Cobain's did. Because let's face it, people are so ADD that they'll hear it, and just go on with their day, but not before posting some pseudo-profound 140 character poem about it on Twitter. 

Below is the documentary I was telling  you about it's only 20 minutes long, I highly recommend watching it. 

No comments: