First of all, I don't think I'm old. I don't think I'm getting old and I'm beyond excited to turn 40 in October. That said, allow me to contradict myself for a few paragraphs. When I was a teenager, my bedroom walls were shrines to pop culture. First, they were covered with Xanadu posters and Tiger Beat pictures of Olivia Newton-John. Then I discovered Pat Benatar. Her merchandise was much easier to get my hands on. Then some chick named Madonna came on the scene. At any given time I could tell you what songs were in the top ten. I could tell you how long each song had been there, who wrote it, who produced it and ultimately how well the song would do. Looking back, its uncanny how spot on my predictions always were. I was even good at knowing what an artist would do next. I predicted Madonna's Broadway-esque album "I'm Breathless" long before it was even mentioned that she would be in the movie "Dick Tracy." I knew every actor of my generation. I knew where they grew up, how they got their start and every movie they made or tv show they were on. "The Outsiders" was my "Catcher in the Rye," both the book and the movie. The point I'm making is that I was immersed in pop culture. This lasted well into my 30's. Don't get me wrong, I still cruise the gossip sites, but I am finding more and more that I have no idea who most of these people are. And to be honest, it makes me feel a little old.
I have never heard Miley Cyrus sing. For the longest time, I had no idea who Hannah Montana was. It wasn't until her concert movie came out that someone explained the phenomenon to me. I still don't get it. And to top it off, she's a Disney Girl who's getting a little old herself....well by Disney standards anyway. They tend to discard their starlets at the first sign of boobs. Let's hope Miley manages to NOT follow in the footsteps of Britney and Lindsey.
One day I was emptying the dishwasher and Ellen was on in the other room. I heard her introduce a band, but I didn't hear their name. After hearing a few licks of the song I said outloud, "Is that the Patridge Family?" I walked in the room and there was this "band" on stage performing, but something just wasn't right. They had these impossibly coiffed manes of dark hair and they were each in shiny suits with skinny pants. I think two of them were playing guitar and one was playing the tambourine. Then I noticed that they obviously were not playing their instruments. Wait, the kid looked like he was actually playing his tambourine. Not one of them looked to be over 15 years old. I couldn't wrap my head around how incredibly bad the song was and how obviously fake the performance was, but the crowd of teenage girls was in Beatles-like fan frenzy. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I couldn't move. I could not divert my eyes from the visual and musical atrocity I was witnessing. The song ended and Ellen came out on stage and said, "Let's give it up again for The Jonas Brothers." I sat down and wondered, "Where the hell have I been?" Obviously, these 3 little boys were the biggest thing since, well since the last set of popular boys were teenagers. Who was last...Nsync? The Backstreet Boys? Did I miss one altogether? I was at the drug store the next day and I took a look at the magazine aisle. We all know that one thing never changes, if you want to know what's up in pop culture, just look at the Teen Mags. These guys were on EVERY cover. I didn't even have the urge to open one of the magazines. The one performance I saw was enough for me. I don't get their appeal, but then again, I'm a 39 year old man, they're not supposed to appeal to me.
One day during the summer after my senior year in high school, I had just gotten my hands on a boat load of promo materials for Madonna's "True Blue" album and had plastered the walls in my bedroom. I was in my room blasting the record when my dad knocked on my door. He came in looked at the wall covered in her pictures and asked, "Who's that girl?" (I kid you not, my father uttered the phrase long before it became a bad Madonna movie, a bad Madonna song and the name of her kick ass 1987 World Tour). My jaw hit the floor and I asked in an incredibly sarcastic tone, "What do you mean WHO'S that girl?" I sounded insulted. He just shook his head and walked out of the room. He didn't even stick around to find out who she was. I couldn't even fathom how he did not know who Madonna was. I do now. If you presented me with a set of pictures of the 20 most popular stars under 25, I could pick out the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. However, I don't even know the Jonas Brothers first names or if they're really even brothers.
I have never seen the OC, The Hills or Laguna Beach. I don't understand the concept of scripted reality television. I haven't watched a season of The Real World in probably a decade and I can't even sit through a rerun of "90210." At least when I was a teenager (I know, I sound like my Dad), the pop stars I liked actually had some discernible talent. They were famous for something they worked hard at. Now it seems that all the rich teenagers in LA are given their own tv show and they become instantly famous. I saw that Spencer dude on David Letterman and I swear he is a waste of a beating heart. I was in awe at what a disgusting human being he was. The kid was too stupid to even know that Dave was pretty much making fun of him the entire time. He also took arrogance to a new level and not in a good way. Perezhilton talks a lot about a fued between some girl named Laura and another girl, but I don't know who they are, why they're famous or what they're fighting about.
I don't follow pop music any more and find myself listening to the classic rock station most of the time. I can't even fathom why artists like Mariah, Janet, Madonna and Cyndi even bother trying to cater to this demographic anymore. And as I previously reported, I don't even really care about Madonna anymore. I liked her new record when it first came out and I even gave it a glowing review, but once the newness wore off, I realized that I don't really like it anymore. I'm not dissing Madonna, it's just obvious that my tastes have changed.
Am I getting old? I suppose the answer to that question would be "yes" if I felt like I was missing anything. I don't. I'm just simply not interested in the adventures of the young rich and famous crowd anymore. And you know what? I'd rather be a 39 year old man who doesn't know who the Jonas Brothers are than any one of the New Kids on the Block trying desperately hard to reclaim their youth with their reunion tour. I heard their new song on the radio and I thought it was a parody. And then I saw the video and I was actually embarrassed for them. It's one thing to be a 50 year old woman who's had a 26 year career in the business and still making music and videos, but it's another to be an ex-teen idol in your early 30's trying desperately hard to cash in on their past popularity. (God only knows what kind of hate mail I'll get for bashing NKOTB).
I'm happy to be nostalgic about the good ol' days, but the present days are pretty awesome as well. I've reached a good place in my life. I have a good job, my creativity is flourishing better than ever and I have friends that I'll know the rest of my life. 40 is only four months away and I couldn't be happier.