Friday, February 15, 2013

Cultural Icons

-- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
originally published at Tinfoil Music
Friday, 26 June 2009 13:00


I'm old enough to remember....

I remember the day Elvis died. I was playing at a friend's house. Paul R. Living in DC at the time. We were in the basement and his mom came down stairs in tears. "It's the End of an Era. The King is dead." was all she said. I didn't know what king she was talking about, I was just bummed because she sent me home - it was time to mourn. I walked home and my mom explained...

I remember the day John Lennon died. I woke up, turned on the radio (different town). I was stunned. Gunned down? Why? I called my buddy Mark S., the biggest Beatles fan I knew (huge fan). "Have you heard the news?" "What news?" "Dude, you need to sit down....". He didn't believe me at first - and he wasn't in school that day.

Yesterday, news was announced that Farrah Fawcett had died. Hours later, the news reported the death of Michael Jackson. Farrah from the cancer she had fought for several years; MJ we still don't know.

Who among us who were alive in the 1970s were not riveted by Farrah's stunning look and personality? Who among us didn't have MJ as the ubiquitous soundtrack to their world? I didn't even much watch TV, including "Charlie's Angels" - but there was no escaping her presence. My music of choice was Aerosmith, Nazareth, & the Nuge - but Jackson's sound was heard everywhere.

We loved Elvis, John Wayne, John Lennon...and we loved Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Do we remember what else was in the news those days? Is it any wonder we are only mildly aware of what else in in the news today? 20 years from now, will we remember the motorcycle bomb in Iraq or the riots in Iran? Will we remember heated talks with North Korea over nuclear missile tests or who won what sporting event? Will we remember if swine flu was 2009 or some other year, or which atrocity in Africa grabbed our attention for 60 seconds?

I suspect not.

But we will always remember the day we lost not one, but 2 Cultural Icons, as well we should. It is more than our shared history - it is our shared POSITIVE history, our shared experience.

We will always remember Farrah and Michael.

1 comment:

  1. David,

    I read your rant and, with respect, I have to disagree. Unfortunately your site won't let me post my comments, so here it is:

    As a cultural critic I find your statement very depressing (not that I was unaware of it).

    Currently we have one of the most important cultural upheavals of recent times taking place in Iran as these people put their freedom and their lives on the line--literally (there are many more examples but I will limit myself to one).

    What depresses me is that people may remember this time as the deaths of: 1) a woman whose beauty was exploited and repackaged as a product for mindless consumption (quick, what is a profound or creative thing you ever heard Farrah say?), 2) a disturbed man who no doubt was abused as a child and was later prosecuted and persecuted for pedophilia. Both of them operated in fantasy worlds that none of us have any access to and would be barred from entering.

    Why should I care is my question? Why does American society cultivate us to weep at the death of one of their pantheon of celebrity deities, while encouraging us to ignore the person starving on the street? What is this social sickness?

    Thanks for prompting me to put this into words,