Fifteen minutes or more later, there I sat, hunched over a mound of seemingly endless food, trying to make some headway with it; trying to in some small way diminish the sheer volume of carbohydrates and proteins by means of repeatedly forking ( I said Forking) it into my slack-jawed mouth and mechanically, hopelessly chewing. I wasn't having very much success; even when I hit upon the idea of swallowing some of the food instead of letting it drop back onto the plate. It was, to put it succinctly; a vast repast. It even rhymed, as you can tell. As well (somebody STOP me!).
Despite the distractions of a) my gorgeous wife and b) my not so gorgeous meal, an annoying thread ran through the occasion (we were celebrating Tuesday lunchtime) in the form of more - and if can believe it; MORE inane pop music.
Normally I can withstand quite impressive amounts of music designed (oh yes: designed) to appeal to the young folk, since I have a sixteen year-old daughter, whose chief delight is to plug her MP3 player (cunningly disguised as a camera, in turn even more cunningly disguised as a phone) into the car stereo and regale me with noises which make me feel very old and very out of touch with what passes for popular entertainment these days. I had hoped it would never really come to pass, but lo! It has; I am an old fart who doesn't understand the 'music' of today's teens.
What struck me most about the 'music' (or as I like to refer to it in the time-honoured fashion: that bloody infernal racket) being played at me was how similar it all sounded. Different artists (for artists, read: strangely-dressed ne'er-do-wells who would benefit from a haircut and a proper job! BAH!) for sure, but each and every song seemed to follow exactly the same formula, each one struggling to reach the heady heights of dance anthem status with repetitive, strident, repetitive (did I already say that?) choruses. I wouldn't care so much if there was a trace of originality in them, but every one of them seemed to be so very similar - and it got me thinking, which was a good thing because I'd forgotten to think for the previous three days or so.
Has the entertainment business given up? Are the music and movie industries so desperate for original material that they have thrown their hands in the air (dramatically, of course) and are now committed to merely regurgitating the same old crap year after year?
Popular music seems to be dominated these days by one of tow 'types' of product:
Type A: Young females (anything from fifteen to thirty years old) with squeaky, nasal voices, HUGE amounts of what appears to be coloured mortar on their faces, and very little clothing - and what clothing they have being extraordinarily revealing. Now as a red-blooded male (just what DOES that expression mean?) I would never have protested at the sight of female flesh, but the increasingly overt sexualisation (I may have just made up a word there; I claim royalties from the rest of the world) of teenaged girls and the obscenely cynical manipulation of that sexual branding is getting to be a tired, immoral and unethical old strategy. Yet it persists - and seems to be getting even worse (Mylie Cyrus being the latest example of totally over-the-top exploitation that I'm aware of).
Type B: The phenomenon of Boy Bands (Bandz?) seems to be equally resilient as a sure-fire way to get millions of emotionally vulnerable young people (is it just me or is the popular music scene seemingly targeted ruthlessly at teenaged females?) to spend their allowances on...I almost said records...then I almost said CDs, when what I of course mean (cue: nervous laugh) is 'downloads'. I haven't become aware of one of these bands that offers anything different from their predecessors, except of course for being ten years younger than them. It's a depressingly uncreative strategy to ensnare impressionable minds and sell banal music on the basis of sex appeal (not dissimilar from the female artists of course) - although I'm relieved to see that the lads are not expected to bare large amounts of flesh with which to tease their public or simply garner publicity. Hmmm...something's not very equal there, methinks.
The music itself seems to have plumbed new depths of unoriginality. I know that being entirely original and commercially successful becomes more difficult with time, however the plethora of songs containing sampled or otherwise 'borrowed' riffs and melodies from the last four or five decades seems to indicate a rather lazy era of what I will generously call song writing. I frequently make the mistake of assuming that I am listening to an album by one of my daughters' favourite artists, when in fact she has subjected me to a selection of tracks from apparently different acts. Regardless of whether or not I like what I'm hearing - and once in a while, something modern will tickle my music bone (did that sound a little dirty?) - it's an unconscious comment upon the lack of difference within popular music these days. How sad.
In the movies, the ongoing proliferation of slash horror (lots of blood-spattered young women screaming blood-curdlingly), Zombie (lots of blood-spattered young women screaming blood-curdlingly) and vampire (lots of blood-spattered young women screaming blood-curdlingly) movies has meant that my visits to the cinema have all but ceased entirely. I can't actually recall the last time I went to watch a movie - it was some time in the last three years but other than that I can't remember. Gore sells, apparently. Quite what kind of person it sells to makes me wonder about where our society is going. If visualised scenes of grotesque and bloody death and maiming are what float your entertainment boat, there is probably something not 100% right about you - but that of course is merely my uneducated and curmudgeonly opinion.
The intensely annoying flip side of this trend includes the seemingly endless careers of Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler, two of the most puerile entertainers I've ever seen make it big. There are others who make a lot of money from the 'Let's make this such an obvious joke even a hormone-beset teenage boy will find it funny' school of comedy of course, but I don't pay enough attention to their crap to find out their names. I'm not altogether sure which is worse: the objectification of young women (including girls), the manipulation of teenage sexuality or the manipulation of the cognitively-challenged teenage brain (do the research folks; it's apparently real!) to chortle and slobber over the kind of effort-free 'comedy' put out by these jokers. The only thing worse in my opinion, is the likes of the 'Jackass' crowd, whose antics fairly take the breath away and reach new heights of stupidity and have me reaching for the phone number of the local Eugenics society.