Sunday, June 28, 2009

Warning, Generation X Nostalgia Equals Maximum Hype

By Darryl Mason

"Generation X grew up the day Michael Jackson died."

Expect to hear that line a lot in the coming weeks and months, as a new Generation X meme takes hold in the mainstream media. Next Sundays mind-misting newspapers with likely be filled with columnists waffling on about the nostalgia trip Jackson has inspired in Generation Xers.

So let me get in first.

Michael Jackson is dead and millions of people in their 30s and early 40s who grew up with Michael Jackson filling the charts year in and year out with massive hits, are now now hearing some of his best songs again for the first time in a decade or more, and the songs are acting as memory triggers. Powerful ones.

Seeing 'Dont Stop Till You Get Enough' at 1am on Rage was like briefly time-travelling back to the room I was in when I first saw it. Vivid. Not just remembering the TV I watched it on, but the whole room, the people in it, the events of those days and how it felt as a kid to hear a song like that for the first time.

For thousands of others who caught that clip on Rage, or one of the dozen other Jackson clips, it propelled them back into memories of jumping around with incomprehensible, now, energy and excitement, or reminded them of the chidhood bedroom they had almost forgotten they once lived in for years, or some totally forgotten high school disco, or a more memorable first disco with actual bar.

If you were a kid in the 1970s and early 1980s, and you were addicted to Countdown, or Sounds, of if you listened to any of the big radio stations, you heard and saw a lot of Michael Jackson.

Every new single, and every new 'Wow, how'd they do that?!' video, was an event. With sometimes excruitiatingly long periods of Hype before you finally got to see feast your eyes on what Jackson had come up with next. It was extremely easy to get suckered into believing that whatever was coming from Michael Jackson was going to change your life and you had to be right there to see it when it was first screened on TV.

A generation becoming suddenly nostalgic is like a pipeline opening up. A lot of other memories start spraying around once that gateway to childhood has been cracked open. And a lot of other mostly forgotten music from the late 70s and early 80s will leap into your mind on the back of hearing Jackson singing Rock With You on the radio for the first time in two decades.

And with those musical memories come the mini-memory vids of the friends you shared that music with, the people around you then, the clothes you wore, the things you believed, the dreams you wanted to turn into bright and shining realities.

We will soon be told by every media entity with a heartbeat that Generation X Is Becoming Nostalgic.

It's about fucking time.

The Baby Boomers have dominated us for too long with their mostly shudder-awful musical nostalgia. Seriously, the fucking Eagles are still being played on Australian commercial radio stations. What else can you say but WTF?

For Generation Xers, The Eagles were the shit our parents listened to. The Eagles fucking pissed us off three and a half decades ago, and just the fact The Eagles are still getting played on morning, afternoon and evening radio, is enough to make most of us want to scream, "Oh fuck no, not again!"

I have little doubt that much of the current road rage can be linked to the number of times Hotel California and Take It Easy get played during morning and evening commutes. Hotel fucking California anathesises Baby Boomers, but it fill Generation Xers with fury.

And why is that up until a few days ago, all but none of the commercial radio stations played any Michael Jackson at all?

The Boomers are laughing at us, you know that, don't you?

John Farnham will never fucking retire, and will eventually be replaced by a robot or clone, or both. The Baby Boomers are going to live into their 120s, the ones that can afford it anyway. Boomer music, movies, TV and cultural memories and icons will clutter commerical TV and radio for decades more to come. This is why so many of us under 50s go online, where the influence and interests of Boomers is less suffocating, far less constant.

Generation X needs its own Nostalgia takeover of the mass media.

How many more times must any person hear so much plap and flappily crap Boomer generation songs that weren't even hits when they were first releasd, on mind-screamingly constant rotation, on so many fucking stations, all at the same time.

Take It Easy....for fuck's sake. What kind of message is that for a generation?

Only the idiots of the Boomer generation embraced the mass-media branded idiom of 'Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,' though plenty in their ranks used it as excuse to bail on society, or hit cruise control into the next decade or three.

Ray Manzareck, of The Doors, had a better philosophy, 'Turn On, Tune In, TAKE OVER'.

Few Boomers thought that was a good idea.

And they grew to find The Eagles far more pleasing, less challenging, than the raucousness of The Doors. Boomers love that commercial radio anathetises then with Hotel California on a daily basis, when they should be getting blitzed by The Doors and The Ramones and Iggy Pop and The Sex Pistols.

This has to end.

Generation X must remove the horror of Baby Boomer Easy Listening Light Rock from all commercial radio stations.

It must become a crime to broadcast The Eagles and John Farnham to the public, outside of sound spill from nursing homes.

At least when we go into the nursing homes, we'll be listening to Nirvana.

Maybe some Michael Jackson.

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, maybe Rock With You. Eat It and Bad are out, because it's impossible to watch the Jackson videos now without seeing Weird Al Yankovich's versions layered over the top.