By Hans Ebert
Either something is very wrong, or everything is completely wrong, and with inspiration in such short supply. And without inspiration, how can one create? There’s just so much of everything that finding that something- and someone- special today becomes almost an impossibility. It wasn’t always like this.
Where did we make that U-turn down to Rue Morgue Avenue and cosy up and settle for mediocrity- mediocre music, mediocre people, and we tolerate and accept mediocre everything. It makes me wanna cut off my ear, and yell, Can you fucking hear me?
The other day, for whatever reason, the television channel was tuned to E! Entertainment. Apart from E!News, non-stop gossip fodder from the so-called world of entertainment, on came a reality series called WAGS, a look into the world of the wives and girlfriends of some professional athletes in America- mainly football players- and with a pecking order attached as to who can capture the best catch, with a wedding ring being the main prize.
The series is tacky, the women featured have no shame, it denigrates females, and it makes a mockery of that crazy old fashioned thing called love and marriage. Like every other reality series that’s basically softcore porn, WAGS is all just out there about what these women would do to get their man- or any man who would give them a “big rock” for their finger. This, and only this, is their one calling in life. It made me think what this says about society today, how television series like this impacts and numbs and dumbs down young minds, and the “inspiration” it must have on music, especially Hip Hop and Rap music and their accompanying videos.
James Brown sang about “Sex Machine”, the incredibly underrated “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”, “I Feel Good” and so many more tracks that explored the theme of sex without any of these degenerating into vulgarity and contrived efforts to outrage. As for the string arrangement on “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”, well, simply put, it’s now 2017, and there’s been nothing that comes close to it.
Marvin Gaye sang about “Sexual Healing” and “Let’s Get It On”, and none of this made us recoil in horror and cringe. It really WAS sexual healing, and each one of took from these songs and others whatever we needed to take from them.
Same with so many recordings by the Stones- “Satisfaction”, “Brown Sugar”, titling a record “Sticky Fingers”, and all that fuss when Radio demanded that “Let’s Spend The Night Together” be changed to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”.
And now we have mainstream television programming like “The Bachelor”, “The Bachelorette”, “WAGS”, and the motherlode of them all, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, and a dedicated channel, or a channel dedicated to peddling the lifestyles of the rich and not famous in a way that would have made Robin Leach wonder what the hell is going on- all those helium-filled voices and those faked out fly-on-the-wall ‘looks’ into unreal scripted reality, which the gullible buy into just as they continue to do with television singing competitions.
It’s all fake, fake, fake despite the minor changes to concepts and half-arsed “mentoring” and judging panels comprised of those considered far more important than the contestants, because it’s always been about ratings. It’s the economy, stupid, and it’s about the ratings game.
Some of us have grown up with the best- the performances of Jack Nicholson, DeNiro before he became a Focher, Pacino, Christopher Walken, James Woods, Susan Sarandon. The list is endless.
We have embraced creativity and greatness and gone back to seeing and hearing greatness because we had great mentors. Because we had inquisitive minds. Because we pushed the envelope of life. Because we had a diversity of heroes and were inspired. Key word: Diversity. And we embraced them all.
Today? Today, we often have to settle for mediocrity and choke from telling the truth because it’s all about surviving. It’s about settling for Okay, because most of those around you wouldn’t know good from bad and mediocrity and triviality from brilliant creativity. But maybe, just maybe, creativity is making a comeback.
Watch the brilliant series called “The Americans”, and “Big Little Lies” and before them, “Mad Men” and “Californication”. Would I be happy with Elizabeth Jennings, the character Keri Russell plays in “The Americans”? You’re damn right, I would be. She’s dangerously provocative and real and very very sexual. She could have healed Marvin Gaye.
There’s the music of Tash Sultana- DIY music that doesn’t need categorisation. It’s music that breaks new ground.
There’s all this technology around us, but have we got any further with it than useless hashtags and fake “likes” and “followers”? Who are we kidding? It’s an insult to the road well traveled, and where only the best survived and thrived and we were honest with our feelings. If we didn’t like something or someone, we said, “Fuck this”, and walked away. We didn’t hang around suffering fools gladly and towing some corporate line we didn’t believe in. We weren’t surrounded by stupidity and mediocrity and banality and, well, jive.
Many of us still have this inside of us. Maybe it’s been stifled because of this need to belong- this numbing, dumbed down need for neediness.
Don’t know about you, but this is where I get off at the station where the train is going nowhere. This is where one journey ends and a new one begins. Hop aboard and see where it takes us. It’s better than just pissing in the wind, standing still and wondering where the time went.