The Decline of Pop Culture: Age of Bigger Than It Should Be
The decline of pop culture is becoming more and more apparent to me, as I have now spent two months trolling Google Entertainment News for stupid news articles. Although I don’t watch television, every single television recap article I read sounds simply terrible. This isn’t a criticism of writers who do television recaps. It is a criticism of the vapid, humorless, mundane, and predictable plots and story arcs that compose today’s television shows. To my credit I have seen a few episodes of Two and a Half Men. I have listened to Glee butcher Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I have seen the first and third Twilight saga films. That’s about it for my credentials. Oh and I did watch this first ten minutes of The Dark Knight, before turning it off on account of Christian Bale’s ridiculous voice, but that was awhile ago now I guess. I have to endure The Office, Outsourced, and other NBC shows occasionally when I work at a local pizza place. This is the extent of my exposure to the primary source trash that makes up today’s pop culture. And then there’s Charlie Sheen and Lohan.
One of the defining elements of today’s television is simply terrible writing. When we live in a comedic climate where The Office is considered clever, what does that say about other television shows? I wish comedy shows that attempt to appeal to mainstream audiences would just return to slapstick. I remarked to my ex-girlfriend recently that The Office is for people who find Dilbert funny. But it’s not just The Office. All of the other NBC shows I’ve seen bits and pieces of seem to be Office knock-offs. It’s like buying a copy of a Jackson Pollock painting. The original might have taken no talent to create, but at least it’s the goddamn original. At least Jackson Pollock had some feeling right? I don’t really know. But the people who write The Office or Outsourced etc. must have a lack of feeling. Or it could be that they’re just producing what America loves. The thing about Office type shows is they tread this disgusting middle ground territory between slapstick and intelligent comedy. Either be really stupid or really intelligent. And there’s stupidity in intelligence, and intelligence in stupidity. Woody Allen’s cerebral paranoid character is kind of an idiot, just as Moe, Larry, and Curly are kind of geniuses. Extremes can be very funny. Perhaps people have taken this idea too far though. Will Ferrell. Steve Carell. Their names even sound the same. The Hangover? That’s just the pinnacle of how people think anything that’s over-the-top is automatically hilarious. The success of The Hangover is a perfect example of how this age of American pop culture will be remembered by people in the future:
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, tough guys and dames, we are currently living in The Age of Bigger Than It Should Be. Let me explain. Imagine, just imagine, that we’re back in 1999. A vampire romance series is turned into a series of movies. Okay. They would be premiered on the Sci-Fi channel. Direct-to-video. Niche market. In the Age of Bigger Than It Should Be we have the Twilight Saga. In 1999 a mediocre director makes a movie about a group of friends blacking out in Las Vegas. Cliche, but alright it does pretty well. Not that well though. Was there a big craze about the movie Road Trip? Was there a Road Trip 2? Exactly. But in The Age of Bigger Than It Should Be we have The Hangover. And just to really hammer the age home, there’s a sequel. When has there ever been a sequel to a stupid movie like this? There was no Wedding Crashers 2. Anchorman 2? Dodgeball 2? Not even if the earlier 2000s was comedy at such a low point that it warranted a sequel to a piece of crap movie like The Hangover. Alas, we are living in…The Age of Bigger Than It Should Be. My last piece of evidence your honor is perhaps the most disturbing one. Remember those really horrible kids at your high school who were into musical theater? You know when you take bad acting and bad singing, put them together, and try to pass them off as artistic? Yeah that’s fine. But can you imagine a show about those types of kids? Weren’t you interested in like their love lives and the social dynamic of their clique? Oh yeah and covers. Do you like covers? A show about musical theater/glee club kids in the 1990s featuring covers of popular songs. Would it have done well? This is the only iffy piece of evidence, in that it might have been successful back then. But this is just a testament to how horrible America’s taste is. Suffice it to say that Glee is definitely bigger than it should be, but maybe this is more of a hopeful criticism. When I think back to how scarred I was when I heard Glee do Michael Jackson’s Thriller, now that I have some distance from the traumatic event, I’m thinking, “come on human race. We’re better than that.” The Hangover, Glee, and Twilight. The dark trinity. The idiot, the jazz hand, and the holy vampire. Sounds like archetypes. Tarot cards? Oh god that made me think of a horrible scenario. I just imagined what would happen if I went to a psychic to see my future through tarot cards, and the medium pulled out a card that said Jazz Hands. “NO! Not Jazz Hands! Give me Death! Anything but the Jazz Hands!” Perhaps if the Glee contingent were to start a paramilitary revolutionary organization, their slogan could be, “Give me Jazz Hands or give me death.” That opens up this whole different idea: what if musical theater kids became terrorists? Could the Rent soundtrack be used as a weapon of mass destruction? 525 thousand six hundred dead. Cause of death? Musical theater.
I will accept just about any form of entertainment. I even accept the artistic merits of 2 girls 1 cup (great cinematography and score). I will not accept musical theater as popular culture. I will not accept Glee. I will not accept office humor as clever. I will not accept Twilight. I will not accept The Hangover 2. We are living in The Age of Bigger Than It Should Be. Let’s usher in The Age of What the Hell Were We Thinking? Followed quickly by The Age of Resurrection. Let’s resurrect comedy. Let’s resurrect pop culture. This is a call to all aspiring writers. Let’s step our game up. Let’s do it in 3d. Let’s step our game up in 3d. Step up 3d. If you ain’t funny honey, stick to drama mama. If you don’t got that spark, just put your pen in park. You better listen up Hollywood. You better listen up NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS. Your writers are trash, they’re in it for cash. It’s time to break off a piece of that comedy ass. If pop culture’s a girl, you ain’t treating her right. So let’s write better sh*t. Hell yeah. Outta sight.
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