Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Disgusting idiocy

NY Times article in which a bunch of people pretend to be "really excited" for the 1990s culture of their youths, even though this includes such unwatchable nonsense as Saved by the Bell and unlistenable garbage as Britney Spears

Frankly, this is a low point. What is represents is this: people who DON'T have taste now recollecting fondly the time when NO ONE has taste (when you are are 13). Also, these references (they are little more than that) are truly the lowest common denominator (in a non-pejorative sense). *Everyone* of a certain demographic COULD have this conversation:
"Remember the ______?" with obligatory reply, "Yeah, that was so awesome; they should bring that back."

Features such nuggets of wisdom as "Buying my first Discman was huge," and “'I miss VHS tapes,' he said."

No one *really* misses VHS tapes. What's next? Fond memories of New Coke?



You often pepper your writing with statements like "No one *really* misses VHS tapes". What is the intent behind these statements? I have a friend who collects video cassettes - what is your statement meant to mean to him?

B. Willett Parker said...

Good question. First of all, there are still cassettes and VHS tapes being made--for example, at the Sikh cabstand on Houston St, you can buy any number of brand new tapes/VHS from India. There is nothing "retro" here. On the other hand, in the article, the quote is this: “I miss VHS tapes,” he said. “I can’t find a way to watch any of my Power Rangers videos.” This is confusing, because if you HAVE a bunch of "videos," then you don't "miss" tapes---but also if you can't "find a way to watch" tapes you already own, you are an idiot, because nothing is simpler than buying a VHS player. I myself have a VHS player for movies that aren't out on DVD yet. So the intent of the NY Times quote is just, "I am mentioning this thing from the past, not because it is genuinely rare, nor because I want to put effort into doing the thing I am bemoaning the difficulty of... but just for conversation." What I meant by my statement is not that no actual person uses VHS still--although "collecting" is an entirely different matter--but that these statements IN CONVERSATION ("That would be awesome if they brought that back," "That show was great," "I've seen every episode," "I really wish I could play my Power Rangers VHS")---these statements are inevitably true only in conversation. Whatever people actually think, I don't know or care. To "really" wish to watch a Saved by the Bell marathon is to me, not different or better than *just saying* one would like to do so. I haven't had coffee yet, so I can't quite explain what I mean by the difference between shitty, unaware "Das Man" behavior--idle talk of this sort--and what it is to "really" do this or that.

B. Willett Parker said...

I should also say, the point here for me is about CONVERSATION. One could write a long exchange about "90s pop culture" that any two people our age could have--entirely in their head. If someone actually does something, then they are outside of conversation. In conversation, I meant to say, "no one misses VHS" because that statement does not indicate a real desire; only a conversational one. PLEASE consult my metal blog for more of my animosity towards "conversation" and circulated inanity.

Dan Gr said...

Yes, waxing nostalgic about culture from your childhood is universal, and often silly. But I'm sure if you look in the archive of the Times, you'll find similar articles about each generation and each obsolete media format (including, I believe, a recent one about the resurgence of vinyl, no?). This is more about the pressure NYTimes writers are under to find a topic they can sell to their editors. In the end, there's no accounting for taste; however, I will stake a large sum of money on a bet that there are more people who want to sit through a marathon of Saved By the Bell (even on VHS) than who want to sit through even an hour of what you watch/listen to. I'm not knocking what you watch/listen to, just pointing out that your Venn area is a bit too small to allow you to make objective sweeping statements about what the average person (even inside your own generation), Heidegger aside, *really* wants to do.