Prince's "Sign O' The Times" came on today, and incited several million flashbacks. Not the movie itself, I'd never seen it before. But the time, the era, the freedom, the art… that's what sent me reeling back to the late '80s.
I never thought I'd live to see the day that would make the late '80s look good, but here we are. The differences between life then and life now --- take my breath away.
Sure, we were living under a bullshitting P.R. despot then, but at least then, we still had the myth of freedom of expression to hold onto, us "rebels," we "subversives." It was the era of the wannabe-hippies, the children of the late sixties and early 70s, the ones who felt like we missed out on so much and wanted to recreate the "peace and love and anarchy" that our parents' generation had given up.
We didn't know how good we had it. Not just because the economy was different and we were not yet having to fend for ourselves (we'd find out about Trickle-Down economics soon enough, as we were the classes being trickled-upon); we had idealism, we had HOPE. We thought that, by looking back at what some of them had accomplished back then, that we could pull the same kind of anarchy, we could change the world, we could make a difference. Little did we know.
Granted, not all of us shared in the Los-Angeles based watershed of artistic expression (which we would only learn later, was merely the latest minstrel show that we were allowed, to distract us from what was really coming to take control), some of us were broke-ass or nearly-broke kids in bumfuck towns in the South, or in the 'hoods of the West, or what have you, who couldn't get to a real city, couldn't find the right avenues to express our angst, our rage, our hope, our ideas, our potential. But we felt drawn towards a mythical center, an ideal that could not be encapsulated by marketing gimmicks or talking points. We felt like there were others like us out there, trying to change the world, and that we were pushing towards the same goal.
Of course, for Prince, this was before he found out that Warner Brothers only optioned artists like himself and Ice-T (intelligent, angry black men) for that exact same minstrel attraction factor, and nothing else. That's when we all lost our music-bidness virginity --- that's how we found out that the artists are disposable and that the machine will keep on turning, with or without them. But of course, for the industry, nothing changed, they just found the next generation to sell their pre-packaged shit (way less actual "expression," of course, they're looking' for HITS, bay-bee!) to, and kept rolling on. We got a little more bitter, they got a lot more powerful. Simon Cowell and his ilk are just every record corporation's wet dream --- reduce the singers to nothing but Wal-Mart "associates," and then it doesn't matter what they want to "say" or even if they have anything to say at all --- they're here to do a job, and if they can't handle that, find the next one.
And now we live in an era that makes Reaganomics look like a fucking walk in the park. After the go-go stock-market orgy of the '80s, everything real and artistic and powerful in this country was reduced to a commodity. Warner Brothers, Sony/BMG --- pretty much every music-vending corporation, unlike the smaller relatively "indy" labels like Atlantic & (Def) American --- reduced it all to a product. It wasn't about the words anymore. It was about synthesized beats, interchangeable Barbie & Ken dolls, and it took the power away from the artists, away from the writers, and put it where people like Reagan (slave to the studio system 'til the death) and Bush Sr. (slave-owner) thought that the power always belonged: In the hands of the money-changer suits. And now look at the shit that passes for "music."
If we had known back then what we'd be dredging through now, we might've tried a helluva lot harder. Maybe we got distracted by minimum-wage drudgery. Maybe we got distracted by trying to have careers. Maybe we just got distracted, and forgot what we were fighting for in the first fucking place. We go from "Just Say No" to "Shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down, Big Brother Has Everything Under Control." We surpassed the insulting condescension of Nancy Reagan to the lorazepam-junkie Stepford Shrew, Laura (eats) Bush. From the "go-go '80s", we've devolved to the "Fuck you, I've got mine, you don't deserve anything you treasonous scum '00s."
And the real pisser is, what the fuck do we have to show for it? Aside from the obvious giving up of Constitutional freedoms, the raping of our national character, the raping of the entire fucking planet, the destruction of the environment, and we've allowed those cocksucker who were born into their money during the '80s to decide WHO is a "patriot" and WHAT this country is supposed to stand for --- instead of standing up our damned selves and telling 'em where to stick that shit.
Feminism was a "big issue" back then, but after "Baby Boom," (Diane Keaton should be flogged for that one!) women having careers wasn't really considered a choice, it was a MISTAKE, and nevermind that 90% of the women who work in this country work because they HAVE TO --- keep reminding them that they're FAILING at the one job that "matters" --- motherhood. For women who have the luxury to CHOOSE to stay home with the kids, that's all lovely and fine. But the rest of us have bills to pay. And who the fuck are those marketing douchebags to tell ANYONE what she should do with her life? Oh, right --- they're the corporate pimps who own this country. THAT'S why it's still considered an "issue" --- as in, if you go to work, everything that goes wrong on the planet is YOUR FAULT, MOMMY. Freudian much?
Such a convenient distraction, too --- if they're too busy trying to do EVERYTHING, they won't be messing around in politics too much, will they? Let the men handle that, hon, you've got carpool duty. And remember, there's brown people invading your country to steal your job, so make damned sure that you support the folks who hate the brown people --- like those brown rappers who want to fuck your daughter.
Oh, no, don't worry about the never-married non-breeders like me, we don't exist, at least not according to Madison Avenue & D.C. --- we're "PRE-PREGNANT," we're still "looking for Mister Right" --- we'll never be complete, sovereign entities unto ourselves, we're just unfinished clay, waiting for the right hand to mold us.
The thing that I miss the most about the '80s is that the rich boys knew when to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up --- they didn't go out in public and try to tell everybody else how to live --- the sorority bitches were too worried about their socials and their keggers and their abortions. They were tactful about being the evil spawn of robber-baron bastards who'd been raping the country since the Industrial Revolution. They knew their place. They stayed on their mansions' grounds, they stayed on their yachts and their vacation beaches, they didn't put their ugly mugs out in the public forum for all of us to have to look at what money CAN'T buy. Of course, this was back when this country still tried to maintain the illusion that the working class mattered, and that we were actually PEOPLE, unlike the post-NAFTA, post-FTAA world in which we reside now, when we've all been replaced by computers, illegal immigrants who are too afraid to ask for a living wage, and the entire population of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay).
But now, they, the self-appointed "ruling classes," don't even have the tact or the good (in)breeding to be tasteful about their money-grubbing evil deeds. Now, they've got the artificial testicles to BRAG and BRAY about the silver coke spoons that were in their just-born mouths. We know damned well that 99% of the "conservatives"/republicunts on the web are NOT "self-made" men OR women, we know that they were trust-fund babies, we know that they've never broken a fucking sweat doing anything besides their domestics. But they actually have been able to bullshit a lot of the suburbanites/yuppies and even the working class of this country into believing their bullshit P.R. packages --- like they EARNED the right to be such assholes.
I'm not kidding.
I've spoken before of Psycho Sister and her useless-as-tits-on-a-boar-hog Second Hubby, the world's largest 9-year-old. Granted, a formerly strong woman who worked her ass off all of her life (and still working her 43-year-old ass off at manual-labor jobs, since HE can't seem to make a decent living) is somewhat dick-whipped about her political views these days, and by damn, it's depressing to see. Of course, she's never been a humanist or even a real democrat at heart, but FUCK, she's turning into an out-and-out heartless bastard. But these are the people who are taking their moral cues from an off-the-wagon dry drunk who thinks of himself as our sovereign royalty and the evil cyborg who is running us all into the fucking ground. They SYMPATHIZE with the trust-fund babies who've never worked a day in their fucking lives. How in the fuck did THAT happen?
These are the people who were so turned off of the first president who gave a fuck if they made a living wage because of a BLOWJOB and the kidnapping of their religion by hypocritical psychotics who look down on 'em just like all of the other billionaires. But that's the only "power" that they've got, so they cling to it, because their government, their neighbors, and their world has all turned on 'em, at least from what they see.
I remember when we could reach out to people like that. I remember when money and where it comes from wasn't the reason that we all HATED each other. And I gotta tellya, I'm just as guilty when it comes to using bandwidth to nit-pick at every single sin, every single fuckup, every single deliberate act of evil that those cocksuckers have committed. I've lost sight of the big picture because I can't stop being so indignant at every single arrogant smirk on their faces as they purposefully fuck us all over, over and over again. I can't stop wanting to whack every single one of those arrogant, ignorant bastards with a tire tool and feed 'em into a woodchipper. But the flashbacks today remind me that I'm part of something bigger. That what we're fighting for is more important than my own personal struggles, my own personal bigotries, my own personal anger. And if I sound like a dotty old stoner, well fucking sue me. You won't get anything but a lawyer's bill, but go for it.
People like Joe Lieberman lost the vision a long fucking time ago. Joe's been in it for Joe since before he joined Al Gore's ticket. That's why I have no sympathy for the man, since his narcissism and mercenary self-gratification is so blatantly obvious, all the way from here. His record might still matter to his constituents (or former constituents), but to the rest of us, we see what he is today.
Same for Bill Clinton. Sure, sure, he might do a lot of good charity work nowadays, in what appears to be a very calculating attempt to right his "legacy" in the eyes of Southern Democrats who know that he'll NEVER be Jimmy Carter. But we can smell the mercenary from here, too. We know that Bill is in it for Bill. He might've been on our side at one point, but not after he signed NAFTA. They got to him, and before he had the heart surgery. And now he's just trying to be useful, and I honestly don't see any point to him. But at least he's trying hard not to make Hillary look any worse than he already has… But I don't completely trust her, either.
That's why Al couldn't get everybody behind him in 2000. He had the vision, but he couldn't communicate it to the rest of the country. I don't think that John Kerry had the vision, I think that he was just the safe choice. John Edwards has the vision, but he's not ready. He's doing a lot of important work, but he's not ready. I don't know what we're going to do in the next two years, but we'd damned well better get off of our asses and do SOMETHING. 'Cause the nitpicking isn't getting it done. I've wasted many a post lately, I know that. But my brain's been located somewhere northeast of my rectum lately, and I'm working on that.
We don't have an art scene or a musical legacy to inspire us this time. We've got some great anarchist music out there, System Of A Down, Pink, Weezer, Ani Defranco's still kicking ass… But you'll notice that they get no play for their OPINIONS, they only get airplay if the videos can draw the attention of the ADHD 10-24 y.o. caucasians with disposable income.
The hippie scene in the late '80s got blown off of the map by the arrival of Compton, Oakland & Brooklyn gangsta rap. It wasn't about free love for middle-to-working-class white kids who wanted to love the world and shut the republicunts up anymore. It was death, desperation, and the "saving" graces of machismo and greed. It was survival mode where idealism fell by the wayside. The people who'd been marginalized during the Reagan/Bush era were fighting back, and fuck you if you didn't like it. And now rap/hip-hop is nothing but booty and pussy, weed and Couvossier, look at my bling and fuck you if you're not smart enough to get some for yourself. Instead of female rappers like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte, we've got Li'l Kim. Feminism is being buried in EVERY demographic level, kids, it ain't just the fat redneck republicunts and the bitches who want to drive Ford Envirostompers.
We're all a lot more jaded now. We don't care about women's rights, we don't care about minority rights, we don't care about anybody, at least not as a nation. The rich bastards have turned the debate to right where they wanted it --- immigration is a threat to your job. Black people are a threat. Hispanic people are a threat. But eerily silent about big China (and their ongoing human rights violations), the real threat --- wonder why that is? You don't see out-and-out racism in the media against Asians, but you still see it against blacks, Hispanics, middle-eastern and Arab people, eastern Europeans, you name it. Hype the Russian mafia, hype black-on-black crime, hype ALL black crime, but keep the white kids from "good homes" who rape, murder, steal and laugh about it --- keep them off of the 5 o'clock news. We're in 1964 and don't even know it. Because that's what works for the powers that be --- keep us divided and distressed, take away our earnings, take away our healthcare, take away the infrastructure that has kept this country going --- and we'll be too busy covering our own asses to notice what THEY are shoving up them. Oh, and throw a nice tarpaulin of religious/cult bigotry over all of it, and the rich bitches are safe & secure to continue stealing everything and ruining everything else.
So what now?
How do we get our shit together enough, and who are we going to trust to put what WE believe in out there? How do we remind our contrarian neighbors that our ideals and our worries are not so far from theirs, seeing as how we're all getting fucked just the same?
C'mon --- gimme something.