Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pop Culture Fails (...or, "Things To Leave Behind In 2015!")

I had originally planned on posting this piece back in January, but given the books and other projects I had been working on, I was forced to delay it until now (no, there is no shortage of all the pies I have my finger in; it’s just that this is something that I am compelled to get off my mind). What’s more, this post marks the beginning of my return to blogging on a regular basis. Even still, it’s March 2016. And the new year is still young enough for me to post this in its original wordage.
Most of us will agree that the opportunity to see the start of another year of life is something of a blessing. It might also be construed as being something of a curse by others—in some respects. This is because the “stupidfication” (yes, I chose that made-up word on purpose) of many aspects of American pop culture continues to prove how dumbed-down we have collectively become.
As this is the start of a new year, I thought that I’d take this opportunity to offer up a few suggestions as to which particular pop culture practice we should leave behind in 2015. These dubious practices are not only annoying to anyone with half a brain (and the good sense that comes with it), but contribute to the continual degradation of decent and productive behavior. So without further adieu, I present some of the things we should leave behind in 2015…

1 “Lill,” “Yung,” and/or “Thug” rappers. In fact, let’s have no more “thugs,” and no more “rappers"…period! Simply put, I don’t have the time (nor the inclination) needed to list all of the so-called “rappers” with these particular prefix monikers for their stage names. But suffice it to say that any aspiring rapper who hopes to stand out in the already overpopulated rap game by calling himself “Lil” or “Yung” something or other is not going about it the right way. So many “Lil” and “Yung” rappers nowadays shows a lack of individualism and creativity that carries over into the subject matter of their simple and garden-variety lyrics (see: "The Negative Influence of Southern Rap Music, Part 2")

If you can ever stomach listening to most of the [c]crap produced by the genre nowadays, you would hear very little in the way of the lyrical sophistication, social consciousness, and raw talent that rappers of the 80s, 90s, and even the earliest part of the 2000s exhibited. To hear today’s crop of “rappers” tell it, everyone in the ‘hood is all about partying, getting high, “making it rain,” killing someone who they perceive has disrespected them somehow, or engaging in some hedonist sexual escapades.
This promotion (read: “pimping” of a detrimental subculture for the sake of album sales needs to be left behind in the history of last year—and all of the “Lil” and “Yung” purveyors of it as well. And speaking of negative imagery…

2 Sagging pants. If anyone can provide a logical answer as to why many young black (and a few white and Latino) males wear their pants this way, I would gladly ignore disparaging this otherwise idiotic practice (*cue crickets chirping*).

Believe it or not, in the past I have come actually come across a few adults who have defended this non-fashion statement. Most of the time, the excuses given by knuckleheads to make those of us with good sense accept this stupidity falls along the lines of “what’s in their heads is more important that what they are wearing”—which is patently absurd of course.
Instead of making lame excuses as to why such a stupid practice should be tolerated, these adults should be telling those who sag their pants following dress codes and simple expectations reflect the greater imperative of learning how to follow simple directions. What’s more, if those slaves to dumb trends have a hope of transcending the allure of thuggish imagery, they should be made to understand that in nearly all of our socioeconomic institutions where success—and upward mobility—is the standard, no one dresses in such a manner. You simply do not see politicians, bankers, lawyers, corporate CEOs, or world leaders dressed this way. Success demands a level of conformity—if for no other reason than to show that one can be trusted with responsibilities beyond being able to follow simple expectations.
In other words, adults who make excuses or tolerate this practice in thug-wannabees are not doing these young men any favors. And it’s totally irresponsible to overlook and accept it as the new “normal” among young people. It simply does not reflect the reality of life in the functional, adult world. Pull you pants up! Sagging is so last year!

3 Models. WARNING—I’m going to be as intentionally rude and “sexist” as I can be to make this particular point, so steel your sensitivities for the disparaging to follow.
Women, I’m sure many of you have heard the old adage, pretty women are like a city bus; all you have to do is wait 5 minutes until another passes by. I prefer to compare physically pretty women to leaves in the autumn—everywhere! My point is that is seems like every other “cute” woman in America aspires to be a model. And with the advent of social media formats like Facebook, Instagram, and the like, wannabe “models” are multiplying faster than lustful cockroaches on prom night. Simply put, the American people have already become so dumbed-downed through our cultural devolution that we simply don’t need another reason to focus on the surface—of anything.

OK, so you’re "cute.” What else do you have to offer the world other than something to look at? And how will you keep the attention of others when the next “bus” comes by 5 minutes after you’ve peaked in artificially-generated notoriety?
And while on the topic, a couple of related topics come to mind. If all you have are good looks and few luck-of-the-draw curves—attributes that you are oh so willing to exploit—to offer those all of us straight males, don’t be surprised when we start seeing and treating you purely as sex objects. Especially when many of you are posing in what amounts to dental floss, in overly-suggestive poses— in a society that is already brimming with omnipresent innuendoes and overtones of sexuality to sell everything from cars to carpet. It takes a disconnected sense of irresponsibility to want to both exploit and profit from one’s sexuality, without wanting to take responsibility for it.


And for “urban models” (models who cater to the hip-hop mindset), if you are going to engage in superficial flesh-peddling, please salvage a smidgeon of the class that actual models exhibit. By this, I mean WTF is up with all of the excessive tattooing? Some of you look like the graffitied sides of a New York City elevated platform train car. Whatever the inspiration for this trend, it was truly horrible advice to these obviously attention-deprived women. Putting so many tattoos on an otherwise blemish-free and (naturally, not “after-market” body part-infested) attractive body is like putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa—it simply doesn’t belong there. It's not “cute,” contrary to what you’ve all been told (or think). Leave the inking to the bikers, Special Forces operatives, and social outcasts. In fact, leave all of the amateur “modeling” in 2015!

4. Auto-tune. This is one of those “kids-get-off-my-lawn” moments. By that, I mean I—along with a good chuck of the nation—old enough to remember a time when it actually took a little thing called “talent” to make music; particularly to sing. Those were the good old days, when we were actually willing to shelve out our hard-earned money to spend on a record that we know contained a bit of the artists’ soul and efforts. And for the uninitiated, “talent” is a developed skill possessed by an individual, or group of individuals that is not common among everybody. That is to say, a true talent is something that not everyone possesses. As it relates to Pop music any and every would-be “artist” can now pollute the airwaves with auto-tuned “singing.”
Make no mistake about it—this does not reflect talent. Singing is something not everyone can do; that makes it a talent. Gimmick-riding auto-tune to radio play may be quick and convenient in this age of manufactured music “artists,” but it hardly counts as artistic. This makes if a non-talent. What’s more, it’s symbolic of the overall decline in Pop music standards over the last decade or so; all style, little or no substance.
I could ramble on about this travesty against real music, but most of what is bad about auto-tune was said in my previous posting, “Why Southern Rap Music Sucks..."
And oh yes….leave it in 2015!

5 “Twerking.” OK, let’s just come out and say it; twerking is not dancing. Twerking—the suggestive gyration of a female’s posterior to bad (usually auto-tuned) music—is the self-exploitation of one’s sexuality for attention (or for dollar bills if performed in the vicinity of a stripper’s pole). But of course, modern feminist’ double-standards being what they are, many will defend this lack of modesty as women “owning their own sexuality;” but without that pesky sense of having (or taking) any responsibility for it. Thought not surprisingly, these are the same women who would demand that we men see them as “more than sex objects.” Such dissonance never ceases to amaze me.
video
Questionable "singer," Miley Cyrus "twerks" onstage

The message this display of stupidity and self-degradation conveys is that it’s OK if women objectify themselves; just you evil and ‘patriarchal’ males had better not do it! Get mad if you want. It’s the truth. Accept it and heal; fix your dissonance.
Women, do yourselves a favor, please stop “twerking.” It only appeals to those of us men with a low-brow nature who wouldn’t want to have anything to do with you outside of sexual play toy. It doesn’t make you look “talented;” it makes you look cheap and boorish…not to mention classless.

It’s a new year…let’s leave the stupid and tasteless behavior that is making us look like a nation of Neanderthals behind in 2015!
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