Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Decline of Politics and Popular Culture

He sounded like Langston Hughes' Dr. Butts apologizing for racism.  Reactionary young'un Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) recently defended the since-revised  Indiana religious freedom law and his own obvious homophobia to talk about how gays have it so well in the United States . . . compared to homosexuals in Iran.  Yes, gays may have it tough in the U.S., but in Iran, gays are executed, so it's only a matter of "perspective."  That did not amuse Miley Cyrus, one of those strong-willed pop divas with large gay followings, who ordered her fans to flood Cotton's voice-mail system with angry messages regarding his comments.  Her obedient fans responded to her demand in such great numbers that Cotton's voice-mail system  was overloaded and forced to shut down.
I'm not amused.  In the past month, these two white-trash icons have demonstrated enormous power over American politics and popular culture, with Cotton throwing a monkey wrench into ongoing negotiations with Iran and Cyrus perpetrating a negative influence on cultural and musical standards.  Their influences intersected in this incident, showing how Cotton is completely ignorant of how gays have to endure intolerance and how Cyrus is completely disrespectful of the democratic process by urging her fans to cause trouble - "Let's stir some shit up!" she wrote on Twitter when she told her fans to call Cotton's office - when a tactful, old-school letter-writing campaign to the senator (or even a demonstration outside the building housing his office) would have been a whole lot classier.  But what's really scary is how Cotton was elected to the Senate by low-information voters in Arkansas incapable of critical thinking and how Cyrus can snap her fingers and make her critically unthinking fans do something for a cause without wondering if maybe there's a better way to achieve an otherwise worthy objective.
By the way, Miley, as long as you're ordering fans what to do and how to act, can you please have them call House and Senate members on the respective transportation committees to get them to endorse high-speed rail?  You do that, and I'll never question your musical integrity again!
Yeah, right.  Anyway, politicians and corporate officers with more influence than Miley Cyrus successfully got Indiana and Cotton's home state of Arkansas to amend their respective religious freedom laws to make it clear that no one can be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, and while that's not good enough for some gay-rights activists, it was good enough for states that had banned official travel to Indiana, such as Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, which have since lifted those bans.  (Oops!  Correction: New Jersey never had such a ban because Chris Christie is an intolerant bully!)  Also, the rock band Wilco subsequently decided not to cancel a concert in Indiana after having threatened to do so . . . but who cares when they're one of those white alternative-rock guitar bands that few people have ever heard of because they don't get enough radio play?  (Indeed, one conservative talk-radio host in Indianapolis made fun of Wilco for their obscurity after the band pledged not to come to Indiana until and unless the law was changed.  The attitude was, Sure, Wilco could protest a law all they wanted, but it's not like anyone would care because they certainly aren't . . . Miley Cyrus!) 
Tom Cotton is part of a growing number of ignoramuses in Congress that trivialize our politics - a multitude of Louie Gohmerts.  But Miley Cyrus, despite her gay-rights stand, is still as much an embarrassment to America as Cotton and Gohmert are, she being part of a growing number of performers that have turned popular music and popular culture in general into a tawdry, trashy sideshow where artistic talent is minimized and shock value is ultimately prized.
"You're not going to last in this generation because we are overtaking you," Cyrus recently said.  "They are dinosaurs and they are dying off. We are the new generation."  She was, rather incoherently, talking about conservative politicians like Cotton (inelegantly switching from the second person to the third person), but she could easily have been talking about old-school rock bands like Wilco as well . . . and she probably was.    

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