Something sacred

I was watching TV at work the other day (yes, I get to watch TV at work, but trust me it sucks. It has to be family-friendly and that includes basically ESPN talking about the NFL all day or Drew Carey trying to do his best Bob Barker impersonation) and this commercial came on:

First of all, let's just get this outta the way: Sailor Jerry is a poor choice in naming your rum. You are directly competing with Captain Morgan's demographic: the tattooed, smelly hipster. And not only that, Captain has an official title. He's not Pirate Morgan, but a Captain. It's exactly how Mr. Pibb pales in comparison to Dr. Pepper - dude doesn't even have a degree! (Thanks to the late Mitch Hedberg for that joke) I don't even care for rum, much less alcohol. I am a weirdo in that respects. My evenings include guzzling a Mountain Dew and watching Friends reruns.

But the song in the commercial caught my attention. They're using a Misfits song, Where Eagles Dare. Something sacred has been broken. I thought the Misfits were untouchable when it came to mainstream popularity. I should have seen the warning signs. First they popped up on the Jackass movie soundtrack with Hybrid Moments. And then Rihanna was wearing the skull logo at a concert. Then this:

I'm not saying that The Misfits were this obscure band ten years ago. Hell, they've had a massive following ever since I was in middle school fifteen years ago. And their logo is so cool - it's hard for that to not break through into mainstream culture. But the music was pretty much off limits. That seems to be changing. I sound like a petulant hipster still clinging to my vinyl records screaming "I heard them first!!" While part of that is true, I do believe it's awesome that more people are being exposed to obscure music. I'd be a giant hypocrite if I didn't acknowledge the importance of music in commercials, Youtube videos, etc. to exposing certain bands to the masses. I would not have found out about M83, one of my favorite electro-pop bands if it wasn't for this Youtube video.

When I talk about something sacred has been broken, it's not that my special love for The Misfits has now been co-opted by others that may not have known them for as long (although part of that is true and I will get to that point in a minute). I'm talking about the sacredness of sharing something personal with somebody else. For a long, long time, punk music was my faith. Growing up, I was raised by The Ramones, The Clash, The Misfits, CIV, Operation Ivy and many others. Loving these artists created a special bond with my friends and we all loved to listen to them. And we were in the minority - we were our own band of misfits. I would find out about new music through my friends.

That doesn't happen anymore. At least, not that way. You can still find new music through your friends on Spotify. And while Spotify is great for this and it does connect people with shared tastes, most of the time you're listening to the music by yourself on your phone or computer. It's not a shared experience anymore. I remember hanging out with my friends and hearing for the first time Sheena is a Punk Rocker by the Ramones. And then rocking it out on the portable boombox while we skated around the middle school parking lot. It was something completely new (for me!) that sparked a flame that really hasn't died down.

Part of this has to do with nostalgia - we all look through time with rose-colored glasses and remember only how awesome we felt. And this nostalgia has a lot to do with how I feel a little bit of anger for other people enjoying the same stuff that I enjoyed in a much different way. This "I heard it first" reaction is a powerful force. But it's valid - we feel invested in what and who we spend time with the most. And for someone to come along and have the same fervent passion that you do without investing all that time - well, you can understand why people are upset. It's a tricky balance to acknowledge this feeling while embracing others' love of your love.

The internet has magnetized this feeling to disproportionate results. You're a weirdo hipster for liking this or that band, but then you're just jumping on the bandwagon for liking this or that band. This is increasingly why I've pretty much kept music to myself (except for the occasional outburst at work when I start to sing along to some of my favorite songs during closing time). I find myself continually being tugged in separate directions - I love to share music and experience it with others and just get down and groove! Then I get made fun of for liking a certain song and quickly retreat into solitary mode.

I feel vastly alone in this new musical landscape. I've enjoyed countless bands that I've discovered all on my own (thanks to sites like AdTunes), but I've really never shared them with anyone because I haven't really embraced Spotify nor do I listen to music when I hang out with other people that much. And I just don't feel like justifying my tastes to others. The internet has been a great tool in discovering new music, but it's also been a great hindrance in how we consume that music.

For better or worse, the internet has completely changed this part of my life. I'm not saying we need to abandon the internet or change our habits. After all, this is just one man's opinion on things. And this man is feeling a lot older and less relevant each passing year, which has a lot to do with this rant. But I hope that with every year, I still am embracing new music and keeping that flame burning.

No comments: