You had to watch SNL, because it reflected our generation, it was the only place you could go to experience television that had the viewpoint of the boomers, where music was a staple building block and irreverence was baked-in. You felt alone until 11:30 Saturday night. And the time slot was reflective of the dividing line between young and old. The oldsters in charge didn’t want to give away a valuable time slot, and the youngsters were still up at that hour, when the oldsters were not.
I was watching SNL Saturday night, because Felice likes to and I was doing my back exercises, and I didn’t laugh once. The jokes were broad and the formula the same. That’s what makes the show so retro. David Bowie and Madonna reinvented themselves a number of times, while their contemporaries who did not faded away. Maybe Weekend Update has to come first. Maybe there is no musical segment. Maybe it’s not about skits.
Meanwhile, Lorne Michaels is lauded by a press that thinks the show has impact, touting its efforts every Sunday and Monday, when the truth is the action is elsewhere.
We’re all looking for a home. And we denigrate those who are locked into the past, doing it the usual way. This is why you derided the girls hooked on pop. This is why the vinyl test was given in “Diner,” which made the film legendary. And “Animal House” tested limits. And…
Everything today is me-too or is clamoring for undeserved attention.
Nobody involved in the original SNL was inexperienced. Chevy Chase was 32! You could see him and Belushi in “Lemmings” Off-Broadway, and I did. Kinda like the “National Lampoon” itself, when it got it right, it captured the zeitgeist.
As did Live Aid. Which was when the MTV generation was crowned.
Or Michael Jackson with the “Thriller” video on the same channel.
And Ice-T telling us the reality of what was going on in the hood.
Or Mark Zuckerberg creating Facebook. Suddenly, we could all connect!
And then it all fades. Zuckerberg today is a zero, not a hero. And seemingly everybody I know never goes on Facebook anyway.
And not only is Ice-T an actor, rap is pure entertainment with villains and heroes akin to wrestling.
And Michael Jackson lost it as soon as he insisted on being called “The King Of Pop.” That’s not how it works, WE ANOINT YOU!
And once video became an on demand item online, we deserted MTV and it faltered.
Now for the last twenty years, the internet captured the zeitgeist. We were addicted to gadgets, new platforms, and then it all went kaput. It got consolidated, your old gadgets were good enough. Sure, there are still breakthroughs, but none like the iPod, which had everybody excited.
And then there were the Beatles, who wrote ditties and then amped it up and blew our minds. Unlike SNL, they weren’t happy resting on their laurels, repeating themselves, they wanted to explore, and they took the rest of the world with them, to drugs, meditation, a way of looking at the world through glasses our parents couldn’t locate.
So what we are missing in music is artists that capture the zeitgeist.
We used to have a slew of them. Kurt Cobain. Alanis Morissette…a woman singing her truth with angst, she owned the airwaves!
But then the delivery method eclipsed the music and for twenty years, music has been a sideshow.
You know who captured the zeitgeist? Donald Trump! He rounded up all those left behind, all those fearful of immigrants, all those angry at minorities, and he said the unsayable, again and again and again. He ended up looking authentic, which Hillary did not. Once again, even though I voted for the woman, when she claimed the Bible was her favorite book, I winced. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear, tell me what you truly feel!
But Hillary is incapable, which is why she could never triumph.
But Trump believes it’s the same as it ever was, that what worked two years ago will still work today. But it doesn’t, ergo the Blue Wave, the takeover of the House by the Democrats…he’s stuck in a rut.
I’m not saying there are not consequences, but he’s lost his hold on America. He might win again via the electoral college, like Bill Maher said, he might lose and insist he won, but those states that were crucial to his 2016 victory, like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, they seem to be turning away from him. As they did in usually red Arizona.
Sure, there’s a market in retro. Look at all the acts plying the boards playing the hits of yesteryear. They don’t dare do something new, for fear of losing status and cash. Then there’s Bob Dylan who is reinventing the songs, and Todd Rundgren who refuses to write the ditties that made him famous. I’m not endorsing their new music, but I am endorsing their tacks.
As for the media…
The papers still think they dominate when they don’t. And if the “New York Times” writes one more anti-tech column I’m gonna puke. Don’t upgrade your cell phone, don’t upgrade the operating system of your computer, don’t be an early adopter, the virtues of a flip-phone… The Gray Lady has printed all these stories recently, when the public feels just the opposite. I ain’t giving up my phone, I love it! I just upgraded! The “Times” prescription leaves one hopelessly lost in the past, and where’s that at, if you want me I’ll be in the bar.
So for the past two plus years politics has captured the zeitgeist.
But this won’t last forever.
What will be next?