Here me out, I'm not trying to suggest that everyone is dumb. Well, maybe I am? I don't really know. However it seems impossible to escape the vast stupidity that seemingly rules today's culture. I often find myself unable to consume any mainstream media without the instantaneous urge to stick knives into my head. What happened to patience? Why does every aspect of a 21st century dweller have to consist of instant gratification?
This example may be out of the scope of this blog, but bear with me. I happen to be a huge fan of the first Star Trek movie. Not the newest one that just came out, but the 1979 original dubbed 'The Motion Picture'. This film is critically panned for being drawn-out and over-long. There are many sequences that do truly take their time and pass without a word of dialogue. Even the so called 'real' Trek fans usually describe this film as one of the worst made. I don't get it. If they had any sort of attention span they would see a beautifully shot film that asks questions of a larger and more important nature then anything else in Trek cannon. Yes it's slow, but in its pacing we can really absorb and seriously consider the epic visuals presented before us. Now, compare this to the recent 2009 film. This is a break-neck pace film that moves along so quickly that there is no chance to even blink let alone think. The characters spend the entire running time of the film in constant peril. The good guys are clearly defined and the bad guys are clearly evil. Despite the absurd time-travel plot lines, there is absolutely no chance that even the dumbest viewer will get lost. Your hand is held and your senses are under constant stimulation.
The reason I use this example is this... It really seems to me that our culture has become irreversibly stupid. I'm currently working on a video review of Tales From Topographic Oceans for the Vintage Vinyl series that we began last week on the blog. I usually do extensive research before embarking on such a piece. I try to gather as much criticism as I do praise for the albums I review in order to provide proper evidence for my thesis and answer rebuttals before they arise. There is no shortage of criticism surrounding Tales, unsurprisingly. This was an album larger viewed as a miserable overblown pretentious waste upon its release. The basic gist of all critique against the album , then and now, can be summed up in the following quote from a certain Amazon.com review: "Two albums full of aimless noodling, pointless soloing and pretentious lyrics that will test the patience of any listener." Sigh...
Why do we have such limited patience? Part of my review consists in my claim that Tales may indeed be the most perfect use of the vinyl record format in the history of rock music. Part of the joy of purchasing a record, or any recorded music for that matter, is the fact that you own the album. Having it in your possession means that you can listen to it whenever and how often you please. Topographic Oceans is not an album that one can truly understand on first listen. Forget it. This is an album that demands repeated listens. Any fan of the work can attest to its "getting better with every spin" properties that define great music (in my opinion). I'm also going to suggest that listening to this album in today's world is the ultimate show of anti-establishment behaviour. In a world of 99cent downloads and the simplest music built solely on its catchy hooks and having no other depth whatsoever, Tales stands out like Jon Anderson at a Punk concert. As the days tick by from its release, mainstream culture is only further developing its short attention spans. Even the most commercial and popular release from 1973 is high-art in comparison to anything being made today.
This is probably a source of too much frustration in my life. I just can't associate with today's culture. I feel like the black sheep of society. If it were not for the advent of the internet, who knows where my mental state would be right now. Why am I seemingly the only person thinking. What's wrong with using my brain and applying independent thought? Is there any chance that the masses of stupidity will ever change their ways? Is the lack of brain-power a sign of genetic degeneration or is it purely a manifestation on a commercial culture leaching off those who gladly follow the herd?
The posts to the Prog Rock Blog may slow ever so slightly over the next few weeks. The reason for this is that this blog is going to become a part of a larger network. I'm going to expand my writing into other areas and examine other aspects of interests in much the same way I am doing here with music. The common thread running throughout these sites will be an examination of contemporary culture and its penchant for favouring simplistic lowest common-denominator forms of entertainment over anything that requires any form of thought. Have no fear, once all the other sites are up and running I plan to continue full force here at The Prog Rock Blog. The thing that drives me to write here and eventually in other places is one underlying belief. If I can somehow reach as many people as I can and challenge their notion of the reality they consider normal, then maybe...just maybe, we can pick ourselves out of this culture-rot. What I hope from you, dear reader, is to join in the conversation. Let me know when you agree with what I have to day. Even more importantly, let me know when you disagree. Share this site with anybody you know who might have similar tastes. If they too look around at our almost unbelievably stupid music mainstream today and shake their heads in frustration, then I can bet they will want to share their opinions here.
While many of those reading this site may be of a more advanced age, considering the music I cover here, I am a young and ambitious guy. I want to do what I can to encourage everyone to question the norms. I want to inspire others to use their brains to make new realizations about the world around them. In my opinion, things have rarely been worse in contemporary history. Despite the means that technological advances have brought us to expand our minds and use our brains more efficiently, we are stuck with a culture more obsessed on basic instinctual self-centred motivations. Sex-obsessed, shallow and materialistic, I think its time we move into a new age of enlightenment. Who's with me?