Help! Blandness Has Taken Over Our Culture!

... and the bland plays on

Blandness is taking over our culture with an agreeableness that's really irritating! Margarine has been applied to our entertainment and then served on a toasted ciabatta sandwich, which we learned how to make by DVR-ing anything with the word "bread" in it.

Our edge has no edge left! The sharks are jumping each other! Zany stuff is everywhere, but as a result, it's lost its bite and everything's been reduced to a quick visual followed by a wisecrack and a commercial break. Things are getting so banal I can barely stay awake to finish this sentence.

And it doesn't help that we've gotten way too complacent for our own good. Bittersweetly enough, we're not nearly as afraid of things anymore. Terrorism fears have dwindled, especially with bin Laden dead, and no one can manipulate us into getting that agitated all of a sudden. (I didn't even take Harold Camping's world-ending prophecy that seriously. I blithely ate pizza all through May 21!)

What's more, though the budget crisis is a nightmare, some parts of the economy have been slowly inching back like a Republican on Viagra, so there isn't quite the same level of "Will-we-make-it-through-the-week?" horror of a few years ago. And while Obama is hardly Captain America, and he's wussy on gay marriage, he's still riding the bump he got when he decimated a common enemy in Donald Trump, so we can't even yell as much at the White House nowadays. (And we're not even mad at Trump anymore, either!)

As a result, we've become lollygagged cows on couches, lulled by a succession of reality shows that serve faux confrontation to make us feel better about our own significant lack thereof.

Ever since it became OK to watch TV—when college-educated people actually started using Survivor as conversational fodder—the culture pretty much announced its absolute surrender. Society declared en masse, "I have lost my mind and I will not leave the house from now on," and suddenly you didn't want to either, terrified of the off chance that you might run into reality-show zombies dying to talk about Celebrity Fit Club or Sister Wives as they walk in a trance back to the home base.

Even worse threats are all the talent-competition shows where the public chooses the winners, thereby handpicking the chart-topping icons we'll be living with for the next five years. So the stars we end up getting are those who screech the loudest, sing the blandest, and offend the fewest. Please! The public should never be left in charge of anything!

The TV that caters to that public is such a ritualistically toned-down affair that on the last Grammys, the big "Fuck You" song by the guy in the Mummers costume was done as "Forget You" and sung along to by the fucking Muppets! These same creatures with hands up their asses were so prudish as to can a Katy Perry bit from Sesame Street because her cleavage showed, and naturally, a child has never seen any hint of a breast before, right?

I'll take Katy's boobies any day over the hairless chest of Cheez-Whizzy Justin Bieber, whose main purpose seems to be to make sure preteens' hormones don't get too excited (and his publicized romance with Selena Gomez is rotting my teeth, by the way). Still, I'd take him over the other biggest musical cliché for years now: a female singer wailing some monotonous refrain, segueing to a rapper barking half-rhymes about respect and shit, then ceding it back to the chanteuse, who trills the refrain in a vocoderized higher key.

And movies are totally off-key! For one thing, half of them are sequels—there are 37 of them this year, the vast majority of them loudly proving the law of diminishing returns. For another, most animated films are basically sitcoms overstuffed with pop-cultural references from two years ago and an occasional song thrown in for Oscar consideration. Even indies are suffering from terminal blandness, since their oddball-finds-love-against-all-odds theme hasn't seemed fresh since Marty came out.

You'd think that at least on Broadway, producers would have the courage of their lack of convictions, but no! They treat ticket buyers like tranquilized sheep, helping foster the parade of revivals and jukebox shows that will never go out of fashion because the material is so achingly familiar. Every generation gets the culture it deserves—but does it have to be the same as the last generation's?

Even my beloved gays are blander than watered-down Thai noodles nowadays. With the help of Glee and Gaga, they've assimilated to the point of almost being commonplace! They even go on dates and actually get to know each other and plan to get married! Basically, they want to be my parents! This is all wonderful, of course, but shameful feelings were one of the few things we could uniquely lord over the heteros, and now they're going the way of last season's Thom Browne jackets. Oppression sucks, but it's a great aphrodisiac.

But the most edge-shattering development of all is the way everyone on earth is now a sitcom-level snarker, sending out tweets and comments with a crushing obviousness: "Weiner is a pig!" "Murdoch is sleazy!" "The Bachmanns have issues!" Now that every last soul on the planet can shout their watercooler-level eye rolls, the mass banality has become appalling. I wanted to be the only one!

But wait, there's finally some new hope for our culture! ABC recently picked up a pilot called Good Christian Bitches, and I'm popping open some edgy champagne. Whoops, too soon. The show is now called Good Christian Belles. Pouring the champagne on my margarine sandwich.

musto@villagevoice.com

 
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24 comments
natebova
natebova

just read this article in the village voice. preach on brother! i couldn't agree more. as a new yorker who refuses to jump on the band wagons that are appearing in this parade of ridiculous pop culture, i applaud your outspoken stance. keep doin what your doin and never be discouraged by any bad comment.

your new facebook follower,Naté Bova

Nikodisias Papalapsuslos
Nikodisias Papalapsuslos

YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...

OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!

HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?

IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

VOTING POLL:

DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?

1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.

2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY

3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!

4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE. IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!!

Shunter82
Shunter82

Was this a failed attempt at irony? I don't understand. This article was horribly banal.

Lee Kay
Lee Kay

It's the interweb. We have to kill the interweb.

Universedancetheatre
Universedancetheatre

When the Spice Girls and the whole suburban Mickey Mouse Club became the voice of a generation (remember when the cool used to vilify them in the 50's?). When the absolutely chaotic nobody of Victoria Beckham became a celebrity. When the ultimate, sold out, quasi prostitute, suburban bourgeois 'HouseWives of...' became roll models for our young women effectively erasing a generation of feminist concept, philosophy and thought. When meandering all over the scale in tacky soul singing by dumb white chicks morphed into TAL BASS lines over what used to be known as 'Euro Cheese' which all somehow sounds just like country music took over the dance floor. When the plainest average Joe Plumber look, the loudest West Hollywood greasy look, and the drag queen look became the only 3 that queers can understand. When AMERICANA, and constant obsession with the past went into full anti-socialist BLOWN MODE.

Just then that post 1995 moment struck and EVERYTHING in entertainment went totally prefabricated, plastic, and fake.

...and you knew that this s*** was ovah.

Zainabbintalib
Zainabbintalib

Civilizations die is 3 stages - 1st culturally 2nd economically - 3rd politically.

there have been no new art movements in music, art, literature, drama in 20 years. the longest dry spell without artistic genius since Leonardo discovered oil paint. There are no more to come either ... the relative values of post modernism reached the stage of nihilism in the early 90's. There is nothing to believe in.All Arts have only one purpose: To connect man to the Divine! We have killed the Divine! Every living artist hates God or he's consigned to oblivion, ridicule, and irrelevancy!Western Civilization: 1492-1992 - it was a great run. the 20th century rocked. I miss it.Sorry about New York Too - What a great city! - Still - people have never had it so good to eat, drink, shop and fuck! Enjoy and don't complain! Keep on partying! - Oooh look it's fashion week again!

Miggy
Miggy

Well written; I couldn't agree more.

Nyparkave2
Nyparkave2

another sign of how culturally banal we have come is this fucking news paper. I remember when i would stop by the virgin mega store pick up a copy of the voice and crash in the bar for an hour or two while i ogled the beautiful public, but now hentoff is gone, the paper does pussy pieces, and we have fucking Musto publishing 5 days this week. I know that youll never say it mike but the voice cut out its investivgative heart and all we are left with is fucking you!!! i dont mind about hearing about famaous fucks and wild out parties but those of us that are old enough to understand know that the new owners fucked this paper up!!! why dont you put that in a didldo and shove it up your ass

Jon Martin
Jon Martin

thank you Michael for at least giving us one column worth reading every week. Now can we please bury the word "edgy" since it's as meaningless as "taking it to the next level"? Thanks & Mucho Gusto Musto.

Quasiblu
Quasiblu

Scared, your post is interesting and well argued, but I don't think what Musto is talking about has anything to do with the economy, it's more of a mentality. A sensibility that is changing the American cultural landscape.

Scared as I have ever been
Scared as I have ever been

Scared as I have ever been: No it was article not about the economy per se, but my rant was sparked by the line in the article about the economy that I am just so sick of seeing over and over and over. The article was about complacency and I went off in a different direction but come back at the end to complacency and edge. In hindsight I probably should have tied it to the issues I was was going off on at the beginning. Thanks for the complements

Nick
Nick

Well, you've successfully depressed me this Wednesday by putting the many things that have been bothering me into one coherent list. Jukebox musicals, sequels, reality TV, pop music... I'm ready for a jarring change to the popular entertainment landscape

Scared as I have ever been
Scared as I have ever been

The economy is still "are we going to make through the week?" for millions outside of downtown Manhattan. The so called recovery is the 70 to 80% of the population whose career has not been effected by the depression. Like for Musto the panic they had in 2008 has receded and they started spending again pumping up the figures. Others can't afford to spend but being Americans it is in their DNA. For the 20% to 30% who are now pretty much permanently un or underemployed the renewed inflation is not a good thing. People are staying at home not because they are scared or bland, but because they can't afford to go out. I get that Bush was all evil to most people and Obama's election was history, and he has many rooting for him still. But please I beg of you take your blinders off. The fundamental economic problems remain, to big to fail, betting on people to fail, overspending by government, business and individuals, a country that has fundamental disagreements about pretty much everything and dehumanizes political opponents(all conservatives are morons, progressives closet socialists etc). Probably America will muddle through and not default in the next two weeks(although I am not as sure as most) but the ponzi scheme known as the American economy has got to collapse at some point. Today will be like a picnic when that happens. Then we will all and that includes Musto be worrying about getting through the day never mind the week and our lives will have more "edge" then we will know how deal with. But even though I got agitated as Musto put at one line (Mainly because it emulated so much of what the mainstream media says) he has identified a big reason we are where we are.

Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart

All rebels today are conservatives. Liberals have become "the Man" as they control so much of the culture. If you want edginess, talk with a conservative about anything of substance; our mainstream news sources will inform you that they are crazy to want to do what they say they will do. There is no blandness in the conservative community.

Quasiblu
Quasiblu

Here Here Musto! Remember when it was dangerous to like certain bands because they represented a THREAT? Why have gay men lost all their subversive impulses? I went to a bar the other night in the W. Village whose name seemed to promise classic rock and hairy daddies. I got neither. It was a bunch of hairless, snap-queen 24-year old phone-drones who Mariah-synched me into such a state of revulsion that I went to a straight bar for some edge! What's that saying??

Farfel
Farfel

You pointed out everything I hate, from Justin Bieber to rappers bursting into diva songs to reality shows. Thanks for keeping things real.

Yaya
Yaya

Brilliant essay!! Once again you nailed it (and made me laugh).

Linlili32
Linlili32

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steve
steve

I still hate Donald Trump

Jack M
Jack M

The intelligence level of the average American has dropped drastically due to a lack of emphasis on education. The result? A culture that worships and promotes mediocrity. American has become boring, dull and listless. Maybe Devo was right - mankind is de-evolving back into the Neanderthal past from which we came.

Jack M
Jack M

Sorry, meant "America." Does that typo further promote my theory?

 
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