the kids are [still, and will continue to be] all right
i am groggy as hell today, because i stayed up well past a sane adult’s bedtime to see what the kids are doing these days with their music on the MTV. now, this wasn’t a VMAs hate-watching scenario. life is too damn short for hate-watching. number one, beyoncé performed, and she absolutely killed it, as we all knew she would. that woman is the natural successor to all the great entertainers before her and then some. legendary. as the network said itself, she killed us and we are now dead.
[aside: cranky rockist boys, if you’re mad that rock bands don’t get the attention and love that beyoncé gets, you’d best spend more time in the studio working and writing good music than you do bitching about her and growing 1890s-era facial hair. your slips are showing, and they’re showing nothing but thin tenor vocals and weak musicianship. but i digress.]
and number two, live events centered around popular entertainment are easily the most fun thing on social media anymore. sure, there’s the usual string of cranky people and invective, but there’s also a lively, enthusiastic sharing session going on. before the poisonous days, the best thing about twitter was the ability to see another side of some of my favorite writers and thinkers. the caustic hate parade has pretty well shut that down, because the risk of being vulnerable is too great these days. but i remember it well, and on nights like last night, you get a quick glimpse of what it was like.
i didn’t know most of the songs or acts they highlighted. i will never be able to pick fifth harmony out of a lineup, for example. there appeared to be several jonas brothers, which i thought was a disney show? i think? and to be sure, 30+ twitter had jokes all day about the kids and their music. how deficient it is, how derivative it is, how weak and unartistic it is. oh, eyeroll, forever and ever amen. hey, fellow trailing-Xers: do y’all not remember how our parents talked shit about our music ad infinitum? congratulations, you have now become the generation you hate.
this isn’t new. this is the way of the world, and it has been forever. my dad, the musician who started worshipping at the altar of john lennon at age 10, had nothing at all charitable to say about my music. my lord, the turf wars we used to wage over rap and punk. we eventually reached a point, however, where his reaction was a small sigh and the following response every time i played him something i was in love with.
baby girl, if you like it, i love it.
it’s weird to watch your generation’s hold on the zeitgeist slip away. [provided, of course, that you’re a white person who just left the 18–34 demographic, a white man in particular. a lot of folks never get to hold the zeitgeist. and between you, me, and the fence: a lot of those cranky rockist boys who hate modern pop music are just pissed that it’s less chocked with white dudes. but ANYWAY.] i know that, even though i’ve been intellectually preparing myself for pop-culture irrelevance for awhile now, it’s still a funny feeling to see millions of people hyped for something so alien to me. but instead of letting that be a threat to me, like so many people seem to do, it’s a chance to learn something new, have an interesting experience. kids having music they like has no bearing whatsoever on me, especially in 2016, when pretty much any possible art form has an internet presence that lets you access whatever you want. i have had no trouble finding music i like. you haven’t either, fellow grown-ups.
oh, and by the way, just because *i* am discovering something for the first time doesn’t mean everyone else is. the fact that so many “mainstream” [read, white] media outlets claimed that we “discovered” teyana taylor last night, when she’s been a working performer for a decade, should embarrass everyone. i found out who she is last night, but that’s on me, not because she didn’t exist until white eyes saw her for the first time. really, be better.
look. people who are young at different times like different things. it’s fine, because it’s just a fact of life. MTV had one of their staffers live-blog the 1984 VMAs, which occurred before her birth, and it was hilarious. sometimes the world agrees with you; other times, not so much. i would personally LOVE it if we could live in the mid- to late-1990s alternative rock age for the rest of time, because to paraphrase chris rock, the kind of music that was out when you started… erm, dating, we’ll say, is your music. the things you love when you’re a punk kid become “the mental muscle memory of remembering who you once were and who was with you then.” and the kids today are busily creating their own muscle memories, separate and apart from ours, as ours were separate and apart from our parents’.
as it should be. the kids are all right. just let them be kids. it’s not for us to understand. but it sure does look like fun, if you can get out of the way and enjoy it.