Kids today are listening to their parents’ music in large numbers, according to Jeff Brokaw. And as Jonah Goldberg wrote a while back, they’re still watching many of their parents’ TV shows as well. (After watching Ice Cube’s Barbershop last night on Showtime, I ended up watching a couple episodes of the Cheers first season DVD and an episode of The Cosby Show on Nick at Nite. Those shows both debuted over 20 years ago!)
Hollywood Interrupted paints a damning picture of several bankrupt media–music, film, and television. It could be that because the last two have gone from feeling like they need to entertain (as invited guests, in the case of Steve Allen’s phrase about TV), to needing to preach to Middle America, their prospective audiences have decided to tune them out, in surprisingly large numbers.
Couple this with Bernard Goldberg’s looks at media bias, and you have three politically correct media (film, TV, and news), as well as pop music, which have each dramatically failed a very big chunk of the very consumers who buy their products.
And in the case of music, there’s an interesting paradox: production techniques have never been more slick. But almost in unison, songwriting has gone rapidly backwards. A few times this past week, while I was driving around, Liz Phair’s song “Extraordinary” has been on the radio. It’s not that great a song–but at least it is a song. It’s got verses and choruses (love that refrain–“I’m just your average everyday sane psycho“) and a winning performance by its singer. And sadly these days, that alone seems like a remarkable achievement.