In an ideal world, the success of an individual would be based on talent and drive. In our world, this is simply not the case. Success can be based on looks, networking, the ability to do absolutely nothing but make sex tapes and act like an idiot, being in the right place at the right time, and any other combination of silly qualities. This becomes more and more true in popular culture with things like reality shows, debutantes and pop music. The fact that Paris Hilton has not been banished to a corner to think about what a no talent slut she is is a testament to the steady downward slide in society's need for anything with real value. (As a disclaimer, I don't really mind the slut part, just the no talent annoying part)
My television is inundated with reality shows that makes me so angry I could punch babies. (ding! New reality show idea.) MTV is the biggest offender. Their programming plan consists of crapping in a bucket and then showing it to you for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From the inane Kardashian show to the even worse Kardashian sisters show, this channel has succeeded in melting the collective IQ down so much that the short bus is now used for kids without special needs. Each show has a pretty basic premise. Sluts, steroid crafted men, lots of flash and money, and scenes set up to look "real." To let you in on a secret, it's not. They script that. Just don't tell MTV I told you or they might send that bitch New York to my house to make me watch her show as punishment.
But TV is not the only source of hellish mind numbing "entertainment." Music has become something that is manufactured in China by underage and underpaid children. Once a formula has been found, every hack in the country with that sound gets a shot at destroying our eardrums and our hope for something with substance.
Now, I am not a fan of pop or hip-hop (at least not today's bastardization of the musical form), but I can admit that there have been people and groups that have come along and created a lasting impression on the world and the art form. But, like all art forms, when something comes along that is profitable it will be copied until we are drowning in it. Take the examples of Britney, Christina and Jessica or NSync, Backstreet Boys, and 98°. They all come out (no pun intended) have huge success which eventually levels out or just fizzles and dies. Then we wait for the next time around, the next big shiny star or the next big fad. Remember pet rocks? I don't, but I have heard about them. People really bought prepackaged rocks. No joke.
A semi-recent development in the "music" industry has been this electronic voice thing that hip-hop "artists" are using called Auto-Tune (or Auto-Tune Vocoder, no one seems to want to say for sure). If you have heard a song by T-Pain, you will know what I am talking about. Forgive me for asking this (or don't), but shouldn't singers be able to sing?
After I heard this guy's first hit single, I was a little annoyed that someone stole Cher's sound from that song she did where the video consisted of her in a leather belt in a "V" shape to cover the stuff no one wanted to see anyway. But, when I heard that this guy was selling hundreds of thousands of albums, I cried. Have you ever seen a grown man cry? It is not pretty. I wasn't crying because my ears were bleeding and begging for mercy, I can handle physical pain. It was T-Pain I couldn't stomach, or rather the fact that people not only listened to this...shit, but spent hard earned money on it. I cried for my loss of hope in society. To believe that people were calling this guy an "artist" made me a bit nauseous. Even though this molestation of musical integrity occurred a few years ago, it has been revisited very recently and regularly.
Since T-Pain raised his middle finger to artistic values in favor of truckloads of money, there have been quite a few others to step on the train and assist in the cheapening of the "talent" in this industry. What really blows me away is the recent AT&T commercial with Mary J. Blige. This woman has numerous hit songs, has sold millions of records, and has a huge fan base that crosses global boundaries. So, why the hell would she treat her multi-million dollar voice like a cheap whore by using one of these ridiculous synthesizing voice thingies? Easy answer? Money mixed in with label pressure or some other stupid thing like that. I guess that wasn't really an easy answer. To be honest, I don't know what would motivate a well established star to do something like that. Perhaps the millions of dollars in her bank account are insufficient, in which case she just sucks. And I am not the only one who thinks so.
Jay-Z, rapper, business dude, all around rich guy, released the track D.O.A (Death of Auto-Tune) where he trashes all of these hip-hop idiots using the auto-tune in their "music."
"You boys jeans too tight, you colors too bright, your voice too light...You rappers singing too much, get back to rap you t-paining too much"
If you can get past the devastation of the English language, the lyrics in this song are pretty much right to the point and successfully say what this whole blog entry has been trying to say, just in a much more ghetto fashion. If one of the biggest dudes in the industry realizes that these idiots are trashing what could be a legitimate art form, then maybe there is hope for fans of actual music.
I realize that the American Dream has become a bit watered down. Instead of working hard to achieve success, we strive to achieve success with as little effort as possible. Thanks to the lack of discerning taste amongst the majority of the country, this is really possible. If we demanded quality and stopped buying the flaming piles of poop sold to us, we would get something with substance. But, as a group, the people of the US are pretty much happy with anything that is new and flashy when it comes to entertainment. Throw in some violence mixed with a bunch of sex and some bling, and you could sell sand in the desert. It's like all of pop-culture is using the Auto-Tune to max out sales instead of creating art that has some depth to it. Anyone could put out a hit song with one of these things and make millions, talent optional, and then make a reality show about how they did it and make billions. With that said, I am heading out to Best Buy, or Radio Shack, and will see you all after I have bought my house in Malibu.
Note: In some cases I was using quotes around words to show that calling them "music" or "artists" is just an insult to real music and actual artists.