Monday, February 09, 2009

Shock And Awful

I am, of course, an old curmudgeon who is reluctant to leave the 20th century behind and when the subject is books, this condition is aggravated all the more. The more I am confronted with a paperless universe, a world of Kindles and e-books and a sort of literacy defined as sounding out a word phonetically and carving it online as best you can with a pixellated awl, the less enchanted I become.

In the past, these complaints of mine could merely be filed neatly under “crabby,” whereas these days I can feel the world I knew inching away slowly and for good.

For instance, I was watching the Jonas Brothers tonight on the Grammys singing Superstition with Stevie Wonder. Here was a living horror that somehow spoke to my worst fears about where we are headed as a civilization.

Now you should know that the Jonas Brothers can neither sing nor play, for a start. They also appear to have just left the school cafeteria on their way to band practice, which I can only imagine consists of posing in front of a mirror and pretending to perform.

Someone is apparently encouraging them in this delusion as they seemed to be welcome guests at the affair. Now I understand that as the years go by we tend to lower the bar we use to judge creativity, as anything original tends to get xeroxed to the Nth degree until it becomes nearly invisible. But this was an example of taking that bar, breaking it in half, burning it, and pouring sulfuric acid on the remaining ashes.

This is to say that the quantum difference between the artist that is Stevie Wonder and the fingerpainting that is the Jonas Brothers became impossible to ignore and it seemed for a moment that you were watching two channels at once. Each brother posed and pouted his way through a verse while Wonder gamely backed them up. They might as well have thrown a box of ducks onstage. Talk about cognitive dissonance. We were clearly being asked to accept that these folks all belonged in the same club and every time you tried to do it, your brain began to squeal.

Imagine someone walking up to Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon with a can of green spray paint, spraying a big fat “X” on it, and then stepping back to admire it as he said, “Well, that’s better!”

This is where we’re going, like it or not. Get ready to nod your heads and applaud as you witness the latest pack of geniuses produce a bowel movement on the floor. Prepare for a world of global village idiots that will be handed the keys to the kingdom only to lose them during a hot dog eating contest. Welcome a brave new world that has such cretins in it, dragging their knuckles along the linoleum as they attempt a grunt or a groan that will be taken down by the press as a precious pearl of wisdom.

Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes. An imbecile parade of the dead.

But I digress.

Next: Foxed, But Also Goosed!


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