By Hans Ebert
It’s just not good enough. Nothing’s any longer good enough. Even most women are no longer good enough. Neither is anything around us. What’s made us take this backward step? Has technology made things better? Or have we allowed it to take us wherever it wanted to that we now want to turn everything around and start all over again because we realise that new isn’t better and we have no idea where we are and what we’re doing?
Recently, and not so recently, friends have been saying that we’re bloody fortunate to have grown up when we did. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but it was the time of our lives. It wasn’t because of the lack of creativity. If anything, it was because of an avalanche of everything creative everywhere we looked. And as Sir Van sang, She stoned me. We sailed into the mystic wanting to rock her gypsy soul singing that her name was G-L-O-R-I-A.
In advertising, my mentor Keith Reinhard used to tell us Creative Directors that the technique was not the idea. Keith wanted us to never lose sight of the idea, nor to hide the lack of a good idea in tricks and technology. He wanted everything to be kept simple and pure. It’s what made the music of the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, the Hollies, the Searchers, the Animals, the Zombies etc so easy to accept. It was simple, melodic pop music even when we had no idea what Eric Burden was singing about on “Boom Boom” or what exactly was The House Of The Rising Sun. and who and what was a hootchie cootchie man.
A few years later, some of us grappled with trying to understand what made someone a “back door man”. But, again, it was good accessible music without labels and different Top 40 charts to confuse music fans and make us believe that there’s more than what’s out there today. It opened up new Doors. It fed our minds with Moby Grapes and we were happy to go for the ride.
It was this burst of creativity that made the films of Orson Welles and Hitchcock so riveting and so chilling through what was NOT shown.
Hitchcock relied just as much on the music of Bernard Hermann to bring another dimension to his films just as much as he did the twists and turns to his scripts and the editing skills of his wife Alma Reville.
It was something later picked up and refined and redefined by Polanski, and, to some extent, by Brian DePalma. Imagine if viewers actually saw Rosemary’s Baby. And what an absolutely horrific exercise in understatement was that movie. What a brilliant cast. What great use of simple camera angles to add to the terror and betrayal felt by Mia Farrow’s character. It was always in what was insinuated.
It wasn’t all out there like all the free porn and free everything that’s accessible today. Free porn has cheapened sex and, most definitely, has had an effect on appreciating and even recognising real love. Does one fall in love today or fall in lust? Or fall in line for the financial security marriage brings? Then what? Live a lie? And how will all this affect the next generation? How has it changed the views of today’s current generation? Is it okay to be a Kardashian or any of the Jenners- even Kendall Jenner- and put it out there for public consumption? Where’s the mystery? Who and what’s feeding our heads? Do we even care? What happened to being exclusive? What happened to filtering out who and what we don’t want in our lives? We seem to be taking in every stray that comes knocking- in the real world and the online world. Both world have come together and created an unholy mess.
It’s all out there- people putting themselves out for their vapid fifteen minutes of fame- The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, those desperate housewives from all over the place, the ubiquitous sex tapes needed to reach celebritydom. Where’s the subtlety? Where’s the mystery. Mystery. It’s what made actresses like Rita Hayworth, Kim Novak, Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe so damn alluring. And then there was Audrey Hepburn.
Anne Hathaway is the new Audrey Hepburn? Please. Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow are the new Grace Kelly? Really? Halle Berry is the new Dorothy Dandridge? Maybe. Ben Affleck is today’s Steve McQueen? Oh dear. Can anyone really replace Sean Connery as James Bond?
The originals were stars and they radiated star appeal onscreen and in public. They were not common. No matter how fake it might have been, the world bought into the fairy tale marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. We didn’t know better. Now we know too much. And like the man-eating plant in The Little Shop Of Horrors, we need to be fed more of everything so that we’re experts on anything and masters of oneupmanship. We’ve become human Wikipedias, but way too often armed with the wrong information and without the courage of our convictions because of this clinging need to belong. Guess it’s called insecurity. Or inferiority. Or inseferiority.
Someone made me watch this year’s VMA’s. She was trying to show me just how far down the drainpipe we’ve slid and how music today is all about style versus substance with few or no redeeming qualities. How it’s all showbiz.
Fine, but the worrying thing is that there’s an audience for this flying circus. Or is there? Could people actually be getting bored with it all? Let’s hope so because things seem to have come to a spluttering stop with probably Spotify the biggest act around. And what on earth was Kanye West nattering about and why were people cheering him on? Famous? Awkward. Very. It was very much like, “Let’s bring out the freak and let him loose”. But, like Kong, Kanye seemed confused. Maybe he knew he was being used for comic relief. Maybe he had a lightbulb moment and realised there’s not much difference between his chest pounding and that of The Donald. Maybe he knew he had become a caricature of himself.
Remember the impact the speeches of JFK, Robert Kennedy, Dr Martin Luther King made, and the powerful messages through song by Bob Dylan?And now, here’s Kanye given four minutes to say whatever was in his addled head. There was nothing much in there.
Never say never, but deciding to never go back to Facebook, a friend sent me a page featuring a recent documentary on Sir Paul. Reading some of the comments made me realise why I left Facebook. The intellectual midgets posting their pointless rants, one can choose to ignore. But the lack of respect is something that’s hard to stomach.
Guess there’s not much Respect Your Elders going on these days just as there’s a lack of respect for everything that’s brought us here. I didn’t have to be born during the heyday of Sinatra and songwriters like Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin etc etc to appreciate and applaud their enormous talents.
Sadly, today, like assholes, everybody has an opinion, and social media has given them a platform to defame, insult and threaten people, not to mention, the cheap personal pot shots. And this is called “freedom of speech” and cowards hide behind it. But that’s what it’s become- an online game of hide and seek with no substance and bringing no value to anyone and anything.
It’s like Kanye West’s “speech” and lemmings clapping like trained seals at someone with nothing to say. But, to some, Kanye West is a poet, a philosopher, entrepreneur, and someone worth aspiring to be. And that’s the other problem: the lowering of standards. It’s fucking everywhere. In restaurants, in bars, in clubs where the cheapest ingredients are used and that bottle of Grey Goose is substituted for an inferior brand, but still sold for a premium price. It’s no longer Babs singing that people needing people are the luckiest people in the world, but how much one can con outta people. How to build up a roller deck of personal fund managers and investors.
Before the brilliant Gene Wilder passed away, he was asked why he stopped making and being in movies. His reply had something to do with movies today being “too loud” and with too many bombs going off. BOOM!
Mr Wilder’s answer can be applied to the world we live in. It’s too fucking LOUD. It’s full of too much bullshit and too many bullshitters. And too much ignorance. Too little knowledge and respect for the music of the Beatles, as a group and individually, the songs of Dylan, the lasting power of the Stones.
A young girl I knew once told me that I didn’t get it. That the Jonas Brothers were the new Beatles to her generation. Fine. But where are the Jonas Brothers today? Where’s anybody creating anything with some form of longevity? Who’s out there today with any real body of work that has stood the test of time? Creative artists like all those mentioned earlier plus the films of Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks etc etc?
Where’s the music today that once came out of Motown that made us feel so good? The Pharrells of this world might take these recordings as inspiration and then regurgitate them, but that’s not being original. It’s being derivative.
Everything is derivative. Okay, almost everything. There’s still Bjork and there are still musicians collaborating on work that goes beyond two verses, a chorus, a bridge and a saucer full of waffles. Thank gawd for that.
Most of the time, however, everything has been reduced to nothing because we have allowed everything and everyone in. We’ve stopped being selective, and this has meant taking in too many strays who’ve bitten the hand that has fed them. But that’s the past and put it down to experience.
In the Now, and where we are today, we need to get rid of the clutter. We need to become more independent by getting rid of all the baggage we’ve carried with us for too long and return to expand on Keith Reinhard’s mantra that the technique is not the idea. It also applies in daily life. The technique and the technology is really not the idea. You’re conning yourself if you think it is. Think about it.