Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Sign O' the Times
When I was around 17, I read a newspaper article that changed the way I looked at the world. Maybe that's overstating things; in actuality, it merely put into words a strange and sinister undercurrent in American life which I had noticed -- but for which I hadn't found a proper name.
The article was from Joel Achenbach, a talented columnist for the Washington Post, who at that time worked for the Miami Herald. The inexplicable feeling he described, he termed "Creeping Surrealism."
His assertion was that the technology of information manipulation had become so virtuoso in this country, that not only could people no longer distinguish fact from fiction -- they no longer cared to try.
Creeping Surrealism was the suspicion that nothing was real anymore -- that everything had become carefully-crafted bullshit.
I bring this up, simply because it is the only explanation I can come up with for the reviews of Justin Timberlake's new CD -- the egotastically (not a typo) titled FutureSex/LoveSounds.
I have no issue with the consistent chorus of accolades being thrown Justin's way; I'm sure the album is fine. What confuses me to the point of a near-stroke, is the implication in no uncertain terms that FutureSex/LoveSounds -- possibly by virtue of its suggestive title alone -- heralds the arrival of "the new Prince."
I realize that as Creeping Surrealism clearly dictates, the line between the genuine and the fraudulent is irredeemably blurred; but even in a world where television audiences happily gorge themselves on images of girls in bikinis gorging themselves on cockroaches while our government -- lead by a man who kept a straight face as he donned a flight suit and played fighter pilot, despite conveniently dodging any meaningful military service -- censors the broadcast of the coffins of fallen soldiers, supposedly to avoid offending and disturbing the masses -- anyone can see that Prince is an artistic genius and Justin Timberlake is, well, the guy who did Britney before her congenital disposition to become overweight white trash finally kicked in.
Prince writes his own material. He produces his own material. He plays almost all of the instruments on his material. He does all of this without the help of the Neptunes or Snoop Dogg. Add to that the fact that he has a legitimate sex appeal -- while Justin Timberlake has all the sensuality of a teenage makeout session in mom's borrowed minivan.
The remarkable thing is that, as dictated by Creeping Surrealism, Justin is thriving under the auspices of being talented, sexy and even slightly dangerous -- when in fact he is absolutely none of these things. We've simply come to accept this deception because it's been, and continues to be, foisted upon us from every direction and from those whose opinions we've somehow bestowed a disproportionate amount of credibility upon.
USA Today can call Justin Timberlake the new Prince.
New York Magazine can call Justin Timberlake the new Prince.
None of it will ever actually make Justin Timberlake the new Prince -- no matter how much bullshit we've become accustomed to swallowing.