But it seems to me that from Facebook and fantasy sports to Harry Potter and plastic surgery our culture is obsessed with staying in our teens and twenties no matter what. And to compensate for this, we’ve begun to add the words “classic” and “historic” to things that have not really obtained classic or historic status in any objective sense of the word. Harry Potter is not a “classic” as is printed on the book covers. And unlike its true classic predecessors, The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, which have withstood a test of time, Potter has no deeper meaning or societal commentary that is usually necessary for something to gain elevation beyond pop relevance. But to justify our culture’s unwarranted obsession with things puerile and fleeting we tag them with words like classic so that instead of feeling vapid we feel like part of something important. And boy do we live in a golden age of importance!
Ipod now refers to the regular iPod as “iPod classic” – how many decades was Coca Cola in business before they threw classic on their beverage. Watching the E! channel against my will yesterday I heard Ryan Seacrest make a bold proclamation that the cast of Dancing With The Stars this Fall was the largest in the show’s “History! ” It just seemed to cheapen the word History. I think of History in terms decades and centuries, not in terms of a few television seasons. To say nothing of the fact that the word “star” is still a misnomer for this show.
Fame has always been fleeting and cheap, but even by that low standard it feels like we are actually living through a time where the value of celebrity is being downgraded. If he had known what we know now Andy Warhol might have re-stated, everyone will get their 2-3 seasons of fame. Like the Kardashians.
But to quote DeNiro from Heat, there is a flip side to this coin. While older people are trying to resist maturity, their kids, left under the watchful and protective eyes of cell phones and the Internet, are in a hurry to leave childhood. I watched Big yesterday, the film with Tom Hanks. And in it he plays a 12 year old boy who likes playing with toys and does not know much about girls, etc. It was a fun, humorous film and completely unrelatable to kids today. Nowadays to get a kid to act like that and have the audience believe it, it would have to be a 7 year old, because by 12 Josh Baskins c. 2009 would be sexting on his iPhone and encouraging Elizabeth Perkins to do that thing he saw in a porno.
If I were to make a satirical film about the future it would just feature a society filled with people who looked 24 – some would be 13 year olds trying to look and act older, neglecting the fun and innocence of youth; others would be 58 trying through surgery and fashion to look younger and neglecting the wisdom and quality that can come from a long and fulfilling life. Then there would be a group of 24 year olds going, “What the fu-k is going on?” And it will star Seth Rogan playing all three since he is the only actor in his 20s who acts like a teenager, but looks much older than he actually is.
The Empire State Building was built around 80 years ago in 14 months. I look around Manhattan and see buildings one-fifth the size taking five times as long to build. Technology serves a legitimate function, but I feel like our culture in general is taking major steps backwards, while the bells and whistles of technology give us the appearance of progress. As my Uncle is fond of saying, “Don’t confuse movement with action.” Right now it feels like our culture is making a lot of movement, but not much action.
Now back to my Nintendo Wii.