josh hadley | the shadows of pop culture | aug. 2019
Pop culture, why hast thou forsaken me? I used to be in the know; I used to have the inside track. I used to be with it … now, now I am just a relic of the past with nothing positive for the future. All pop culture does today is hurt me and I have had it.
Pop culture, as a whole, changes with the times; it must lest it become stagnant and yet stagnant is a relative term it would seem. I am over the age of 40, I lived through half of the '70s and grew up in the '80s only to watch the '90s kill everything I held dear to me, at which point it dawned on me: It was not pop culture that grew stagnant, it was I that had grown stagnant. Okay, not stagnant, but comfortable with what I liked and I closed myself off to how these things "evolved" over time.
I honestly don't feel that music, television or movies have gotten any better so you may see an evolution while I see a medium that is devouring itself with no regard for quality. Yeah, I got old and cranky(er) but you have to admit, everything WAS better when I was a kid, wasn't it?
Let's look at music for a moment? I grew up in the era of punk rock, of heavy metal (real heavy metal, not that glam crap) and of innovation of the rock art form when truly new ideas were bandied about. But this trash nowadays? It's regurgitated spunk with no wit, less talent and lack of ambition to even try anything outside of the safe and the secure walls protecting those with the low-end wit, talent and ambition. Do you really think that anything in the field of modern "punk" will break the mold and start a musical revolution in the same manner the Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains or the Damned did? Are there any bands today like Public Image Limited, which truly experimented with music in new and innovative ways? Of course there are not ... Metallica stopped caring about music back in 1990 when they decided they wanted to be rock stars instead of musicians, Iron Maiden became manufactured product used to sell t-shirts and posters, Slayer grew deaf to the idea that music required effort and Henry Rollins deluded himself into thinking he was a poet and a pundit. The fact that Cardi B is a star is proof that music can never recover. She is, most poignantly, one of the dumbest and least talented people I have ever seen. Let's face it, people, music peaked between 1970 and 1989, after that it was all downhill and more of the same. Nu metal is just poser music with the extreme styling for the modern day youts (not a typo). Punk is all but dead and has been since the aforementioned 1989 date. Rock is non-existent outside of some old cover tunes and even rap is nothing more than anti-ho word salad over Casio beats.
Movies are done. The average film today cost $100 million and they still can't make a movie as good as those in the 1980s. “Transformers: The Movie” (1986) cost $6 million and gave us everything we could have hoped for in a Transformers film: heroes, villains, rock music, the triumph of good over evil, the pathos of the '80s all in 90 minutes of the most amazing thing ever made. And yet people tell me there are other Transformer movies out there and they are just talking gibberish it seems. Who would have hired Michael Bay (the Meatloaf music video guy) to make a movie about cartoon robots? I am told it starred the horse head kid from “Dumb & Dumberer” and then Dirk Diggler … really? You go from Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Eric Idle and Judd Freaking Nelson to a bunch of never-will-be's? This is why movies stopped being good after the 1990s because Hollywood stopped caring about quality and started only to care about bleeps and bloops along with being all showy.
Television has completely lost its way. Since when was television about reality? In the 1980s you had amazing shows that could only have been put on in the 1980s. Why? Because the '80s had balls before the 1990s ruined everything. The '90s were all about political correctness and being fair and inclusive to everything, 80's TV shows were about being nuts and pissing off the status quo. We need that attitude back. Today shows such as “Max Headroom,” “China Beach,” “Cagney & Lacy,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Moonlighting” and “Miami Vice” would never even get past a pilot stage.
Books today are all made for bored moms or teenage girls. Want to know how '80s kids got their literary thrills? King and Barker, damn it! Oh, today we need books that speak to the teen angst and moral quandaries of our times. Boohoo. In the '80s we had teens blackmailing old Nazi's into helping them kill bums — that is how we identified with a protagonist, none of this hand holding love story crap, just old-fashioned homicidal tendencies boiling just under the surface. Today, we have mommy porn that is all pseudo-sexy but in reality is setting back woman's lib 20 years. Literature has lost quite a bit of the literate part in the last 30 years.
Pop culture grew up all around me and frankly, I stayed cool. It was just that what was cool changed, so I didn't need to change, I am just as cool now as I was when the cool stuff was cool before the cool stuff became lame. Pop culture did notleave me; I left it.
A fiercely confrontational and arrogant critic whose stubborn nature makes him immanently readable and equally angering, Josh Hadley is a writer for magazines such as Hustler, Fangoria, Paracinema, Shadowland, Grindhouse Purgatory and Cashers du Cinemart, as well as a radio host on Jackalope Radio. Find more from him at 1201beyond.com, a website that only the most anti-social personalities would engage.