Our “Mainstream” Culture Is A Dead End. Time For More Radical Thinking.

Please, sir, no more! 

Mainstream is a waste of time, and hopefully on its way out! 

One of the most asked questions from the post 1980’s generation is, “what was so special about the ’70’s and ’80’s?”

A question easily answered by many, and all about the same way; what exists today is nothing more than mass produced, plastic, regurgitated hollowed out dog shit!

What we have now, by and large, is a mass population that has subscribed to a level of cultural Marxism. 

To bring some credibility and less of an opinionated view to that statement, you only have to look at the entertainment industry.

The music and film/TV industry share similar audience and there are some pretty irrefutable statistics on what is being forced down our throats and, into our ears. A ten year analysis showed revealed some pretty interesting things about musical content; over that period, songs that made it big on the Bill Board charts and held high positions had song lyrics that were getting measurably less intelligent. This might sound like much … but it is.

By 2006, lyrics for songs at the top of the charts held a comparable reading level of that of 8-10 year olds!

Just a short decade later, the same review showed the intelligence level had dropped another grade!

Researchers in Spain, who conducted the research, used a system called the ‘Million Song Data Set’, showed that some artists, in particular, Beyoncé and Maroon 5 promoted and produced lyrics of astonishingly low level reading and intelligence abilities.

So when you hear people complain that everything sounds the same now, yes, it does and it’s because it has simply become much more bland and unchallenging.

Simplistic, one dimensional shite in other words.

There are other indicators of the downward spiral.

The so-called success presented to us in so many of today’s industry generated artists isn’t by virtue of natural talent, musical abilities or cultural value, but a result of advertising, consumer research, creating here today, gone tomorrow contrivances which have nothing to do with the quality of the work.

For those who remember reading NME and the largely soul/ R n B / hip-hop based music newspaper Echoes, there were clear, definable, music categories showing specific genres including alternative, like punk and world music. When was the last time that was said and done accurately? When was it reflected at the awards? When did we start rewarding retreads and the same-old-same-old instead of rewarding those in the industry who do something new?

Now we’re presented with, and told to accept, a handful of artists, spewing the same style and type of music and receiving and sharing awards year in year out. 

When hip-hop first came on the scene, its cultural value and skillful presentation was reflected by the likes of KRS-1, Ultramagnetic MC’s and Public Enemy along with a few notable others, but within a decade, the supposed musical ingenuity and credibility was solely presented and based on how many gang-bangers industry-created artists had supposedly killed. 

The TV industry has sadly become much the same.

The bigoted and right leaning Alf Garnet character, in the hit TV  show, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, was a testament to what was once cutting edge production. I often hear that this kind of show would never get on TV these days, because the producers would have a collective heart-attack over what some wishy-washy liberal would say if it did.

But that show and others like it weren’t encouraging prejudice; they were challenging it. 

Should we stop doing that because some permanently offended arsehole might get the wrong idea?

That show and others like it highlighted ignorance … now the producers pander to it, only it’s a different kind of ignorance they’re allowing for.

People are smart enough to suss  this stuff out, but TV so often insults our intelligence now. If there’s doubt in what is being said or presented, simply ask yourself, was merit being awarded to the often prejudiced and racist comments of the fictional character, Alf Garnett, or was the show about a generational cross-over?

My youngest brother and sister’s father was of Jamaican decent; he’d often find himself laughing at the antics and rhetoric of Alf Garnett. As a black immigrant, he knew exactly the point the show-runners were making; humour based on a man (maybe a country’s) ignorance, a hilarious misunderstanding and exaggeration of his culture. 

Were his ideas being celebrated, or was that man’s narrow view and opinion shown for what it really was, which was ignorant and laughable?

We know the answer. When I hear folk say “that would never get on TV now” they are right; it wouldn’t. But we ought not to be celebrating that fact. We ought to be mourning it. Now we have shite like Benefits Street and “poverty porn” and reality shows who’s stars don’t have any resemblance to actual reality … these shows increase ignorance and perpetuate divisive ideas. When people talk about TV dumbing down, what they mean is that it’s dumbing down the audience.

Guys like Ken Loach and Jimmy McGovern offer some hope; they at least try to present the world as it really is, and challenge our perceptions. Sometimes they make us ask hard questions about our own beliefs; that’s what it used to be all about. What we now call “entertainment” used to provoke us, to make us think, to spark debate.

So often, those are the productions that get shelved and put on the back-burner, and all to make space for what has become the status quo.

Surely it’s not a coincidence that when you look at the cinema today you see the same old shite; a sequel, a part 3 and even prequels now becoming part of the norm. Film “franchises” which tell the same story over and over again.

Thankfully, there’s still hope, and it’s in guys like Loach and McGovern and great film-makers like Shane Meadows who scorched our screens with superb films like Dead Man’s Shoes, A Room For Romeo Brass, Twenty Four Seven and what some regard as his masterpiece, This Is England, about as honest and unflinching a film about social issues as you’re ever likely to see, and which went on to spawn a superb television series too.

That, thankfully, found a way through the politically correct wall and the cracks of mass produced trollop, and allowed many of us to believe that there is still a chance to see truth in an industry of tired hacks and worn out ideas, a hope that we could be saved from “mainstream” and its regurgitated, more of the same old crap.

Those moments are like gold nuggets in a bowl of screwtops and nails.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, after all,  that one of the biggest TV shows of today is named after its audience; The Walking Dead.

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