May 4, 2009

Mind Control! It's the absolute ultimate!

I'm not suggesting that there's some grand conspiracy of mind control going on out there. MTV is not conspiring with Dancing with the Stars and People Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly to warp your brain and turn you into some media munching brainless zombie head. Rolling Stone magazine isn't teaming up with Sony entertainment to bring you into mental pop culture slavery. Oh, wait.....

The problem for all you kiddies out there (and those adults who can't seem to leave off pop culture and go read William F Buckley like they should) is that you're surrounded by a wall of media that is so thick and impenetrable that you can't break out unless you WILLFULLY and DELIBERATELY free yourself from the morass. All the media outlets in our culture right now are selling harsh, mindless, sometimes anti-human product -- it's a wall of ugly, loud, hysterical noise, filled with propaganda-like slogans ("yes we can," "you are the change you've been waiting for," "change," "hope," blah, blah), straight-up propaganda and hero-worship (all the fawning, empty praise of Obama as the "cool, hip" president with "swagga"), and mediocrity passing itself off as genius.

And that's why I say: Don't be a slave to the age!

By opting out of media slavery, by going Retro, you will break out of the thick wall of shit that comes at you everyday from the media.

I know a lot of people under 30 who think that Retro means liking the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. Well.... okay, I guess it's a start. And yeah, you won't find a bigger Beatles fan than me. But I was fanatical about rock music from the 60s and 70s when I was in high school. It was my first taste of Retro, but it was just the jumping off point. I've since moved on to hardcore, pure, straight-up Retro in the form of, "If it ain't in black and white it ain't nothing," kinda way. My motto is: The older the better.

But hippie rock is still the opening gate to Retro for a lot of kids these days because the 60s are still perceived as "cool" -- it's a safe way to go Retro without fully throwing off the current culture or standing too far outside the mainstream of today. It's so freaking "cool" that it's not even really Retro because it's still a part of our larger, mass-produced culture (in other words, the Boomers still run things, so their culture is still omnipresent). I don't have a problem with getting started Retro by going the safe, acceptable route of digging 60s hippie culture. But it can't end there, or else you're just a slave to the age like everybody else, only you're also an annoying git who thinks he's not a slave 'cause he digs Bob Dylan and shit.

See, the current slave masters of the culture let you go just ever so slightly retro (whether it's Beatles music or the new Johnny Cash revival courtesy of that "Walk the Line" movie or whatever) in order to let you think you're an "independent thinker" and "rebel" and "highly individual individual"; you're not of course, but the culture makers want you to think you are. But if you're a young person looking to go Retro and you jump from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Durante, then suddenly, you've jumped too far. The flux capacitor doesn't even go back to 1955 anymore, it stops strictly at '67 if it stops at all. See, Jimmy Durante is corny and OLD, not old-cool, but old-weird, old-cheesy, old-stupid, old-old.

But it's the Jimmy Durante-loving RetroHead that I'm crusading for! If you can break out of the media barrage and start diggin on older stuff (truly older stuff, the kind of stuff that never gets advertised or promoted by mainstream media conglomerates), then you'll start to remake your world. Suddenly, your idea of physical beauty will change. Example: I love old movies, so I'm constantly exposing myself to images of men and women from past decades who look different from the media creations of today. I used to fawn all over women's magazines when I was in middle school and my early days of high school. Now I pass by those women's magazines in the grocery store and I feel like barfing. Those chicks look scary! Too skinny, too skanky, too vapid and gross. It's because my idea of glamorous movie star beauty has changed. Now I realize that women can look sexy and beautiful and high fashion without looking like trashy whores. I've seen Rita Hayworth, in other words. And she wasn't airbrushed.

Same thing with music. I can hardly stand to listen to some of the singers on American Idol. Not because they sing bad music (often the show does theme nights with pretty good selections, like last week's Rat Pack night). It's because their style of singing is more like yelling loud and long and the mellismas are coming on so fast and furious I wonder if any of them can actually hold one note for more than half a second. I never would think this kind of singing was annoying if I hadn't been listening to Doris Day and Bing Crosby and Julie London and Bobby Darin for the better part of fifteen years and hearing what good singing sounds like.

Maybe it's not some grand conspiracy on the part of Viacom and Time Warner and Sony and whomever, but what ends up happening when we restrict ourselves to a daily blast of their current pop culture (and don't temper it with a concentrated gulp of Retro) is we end up getting mind controlled, yo. Our perception of "good" and "beautiful" and "true" gets determined by the opinion and media makers of the current age and we seem powerless to even realize we're being mind controlled. Like I says, the only way out is Retro.

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