In case you haven’t heard (and you very possibly may not have), there are a lot of terrible things happening around the world. Economic collapses, civil unrest, mass kidnappings, disease outbreaks, amongst a plethora of other unpleasant situations. Yet the world’s vitriol hasn’t been aimed at any of these recently, but at an old
Let’s not display any sort of lenience to Sterling- it’s an understatement that what he said was unquestionably wrong. However the fact that this story has become the top news headline, addressed by the president, and inspired a collective hand-holding campaign is kind of a joke. This should have been a three sentence blurb in the sports section, dealt with in private. That way at least we wouldn’t get the global back-patting everyone’s giving each other now that Sterling’s been reprimanded. HEY EVERYONE WE PERSONALLY DEFEATED THE EVIL RACIST! OUR GOOD VIBES BROUGHT HIM DOWN!
IT’S TIME TO FEEL GOOD.
It’s become increasingly apparent that the only negative news stories millennials pay attention to are ones that they can personally inject themselves into. Perennial favorites include stories about tolerance, bullying, discrimination, shaming, and other issues that while unfavorable, pale in comparison to true atrocities happening worldwide.
These stories are the ones that go viral simply because of their relatable nature. Jenna Millennial can share a story about a teen who couldn’t go to prom for whatever reason and say “This is like, SO HORRIBLE. I remember when this happened to me and we need to like, stop it.” Joe Millennial will share the aforementioned Sterling piece and say “All my bros, white or black, PEACE!”. Their intentions appear commendable, but at the root of it lies the need to hashtag so they may magnetize and become part of the Big Ball of Relevance.
Cuz I mean it’s not like we can like, do anything about Crimea. Or South Sudan. Or Nigeria. Why bother mentioning these events if nobody else is? Who cares! We did our part! Didn’t you see? We talked about an #important #issue with that basketball thing! We are totally global citizens.
It goes downhill from there.
Once the millennials are free from their burdensome duty to care about the world’s affairs, they can focus on the most important thing: themselves and being a part of da crew. So they get their Starbucks and they fill up their lives with what’s Really Important: celebrity gossip, viral videos, binge-watching Netflix, partying, laugh-tracked sitcoms, and FEELING GOOD.
The pervasive notion that feeling good and feeling happy are the most important things in life are relentlessly drilled into the public’s consciousness by a sneaky culprit that goes by the name of popular music.
NO SONGS OF SORROW
The number one song on the charts at the time of writing this is called “Happy”, followed closely by a wretched indie-pop Frankenstein called “Best Day of My Life”. A hit TV show revolving around music is called GLEE (and it simply recycles old songs into karaoke nightmares.) Music in general is dying, no longer created as an art but as an experience. Creators of EDM music have basically admitted “We don’t really care about the songs, it’s about making a thousand sweaty millennials hopped up on Molly jump around.”
Coachella, Lollapalooza, and other festivals that were once bastions of good taste have devolved thanks to the crumbling state of music, becoming destinations for simpletons who don’t even know who’s playing. They’re not there for the bands, they’re there to have a good time and #document themselves having that good time.
It’s interesting to note that twenty years ago, things sucked just as much as they did now. The difference is the generation at that time wasn’t afraid to show their emotions. They didn’t gloss over the world’s injustices with garish whimsical neon and pastels. They were called Generation X, and they were depressed.
Disillusioned, downright miserable youth. From this came grunge, came the northwest pacific emo/indie scene, came nu-metal, came music with even a bare semblance of talent attached to it. Dissatisfaction allowed art to thrive, allowed artists to connect and grow. In 2014, that sort of communal emotion doesn’t exist because nobody is SAD anymore. Well, they are, but instead of showing it by listening to Counting Crows or any one of the Lillith Fair ladies, they just hide it with MDMA and Avicii. You’d be hard pressed to find a minor chord in a Top 10 hit nowadays. Songs nowadays aren’t about neuroses, isolation, or any sort of angst. They’re about putting your hands up, being young, living the night, good times, the dancefloor, and PARTYING.
Economy tanking and employment at an all time high? PARTY.
Social interaction fragmenting due to binge watching and online addiction? DOUBLE PARTY.
Culture stagnating because of tumblr and a plunge in collective imagination? TRIPLE PARTY.
Syria, Iraq, Philippines, Venezuela are not partying. But people just don’t know how to be sad about this anymore; the threshold is basketball racism. Anything worse than that and they just don’t want to deal with that because it’s like, so negative man! “I don’t want bad vibes in my life!” Millennials cannot express themselves anymore; it’s all just regurgitated feelings from media.
Disenchanted? Post a Buzzfeed list about 25 reasons why life is actually totally awesome and everything will work out!
Sad? Post a GIF of a cat covering its face!
Angry? Post one of those terrible snarky ecards.
“As far as they’re concerned, North America has been lagging behind and is finally catching up. “In the rest of the world, rock music is not that important,” states Keeler.”Dance music is the main kind of music. “
“Everyone’s over Pearl Jam and Jeff Buckley,” says Keeler. “You can go cry by yourself. People want to have a good time, not sit at home listening to ‘Even Flow.'”
“There’s so much terrible shit happening in the world,” says Al-P. “At the end of the day, no-one wants to be exposed to more horrible shit.””When things are going good, you kind of have the luxury of being depressed,” says Keeler. “We live in a time when people get beheaded on the internet. It makes you realize, maybe your problems aren’t so bad.”
This is exactly the sort of attitude that spawned SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS. Just have a good time man! Though to be fair the man deserves some credit for being a prophet of awfulness- that excerpt is from 2005.
And so that’s how it is. Music reflects society’s focus, and the focus is on themselves. There’s probably no solution to this, as trends point to these issues just continuing to thrive and devolve further. Millennials will continue to ignore the problems, dancing away obliviously- until the club owner yells last call and turns on the lights. Suddenly it’ll be time to care, because the problems will be at the door and you won’t be able to scroll down past them. And they most definitely won’t be #FirstWorldProblems.