Thursday, April 24, 2008
David Archuleta's going to win American Idol -- you may as well get that through your head right now.
It doesn't matter that he's a short, somewhat frumpy kid who always looks like he just got his ass kicked for his lunch money at recess, or that his willowy voice conveys all the passion and soul of Muzak, or that he actually admitted on national television -- without even a hint of irony -- that John Farnham is one of his favorite artists, or that Michael Jackson is already trying to figure out a way to get his smooth young body to Neverland. None of it makes any difference, because Archuleta has the one thing that matters -- tragically, the only thing that matters these days: The unwavering worship of every 13-year-old girl in America.
The 'tweens are legion, they are powerful, and they will see to it that David Archuleta is crowned boy king of the pop culture universe. In a couple of months, they'll have his face plastered everywhere you look -- and only the little girls themselves, and maybe NAMBLA, will have reason to rejoice over it.
But here's the thing: It doesn't have to be like this.
Never has there been a seeming eventuality -- in this case, a cultural zeitgeist -- that was easier to stave off.
All adults have to do, is take back the world from their kids.
Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about, because it's become impossible to ignore: A generation of parents who spoil their children rotten -- hubristically buying into the notion that their specific spawn is somehow special and deserving of society's deference -- combined with the technology that gives every computer or text savvy kid a voice, whether he or she deserves one or not, has conspired to hijack a good portion of what we see and hear. It's a Wiki world, one in which a vocal majority can literally rewrite the rules and twist reality to suit its needs, and right now, the 'tweens are the most vocal -- and what they need, apparently, are crappy, overproduced, Disneyfied Stepford Teens to scream for and sing along to.
This is why Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers are all but inescapable right now -- and why David Archuleta is next.
Last night on American Idol, that palisade of democratic instant gratification, Carly Smithson got the hook, while utterly forgettable, high-all-the-time retard Jason Castro lived to annoy another day. The reason Smithson was sent packing, particularly as opposed to Castro, is obvious: she had nothing to offer the wild-eyed 'tween girl demographic. Without at least a portion of this fan base, no one on Idol stands a chance these days. Talent doesn't matter, nor does personality; all that really counts is the innate ability to give America's cell phone armed rugrats something to either fantasize about or aspire to.
I've always had an issue with parents who allow their children to take over their lives, turning them into frazzled, Nickelodeon-watching, Wiggles-vs.-Zach & Cody-debating, shadows of their former selves -- the kind of people who once listened to The Clash and now have no issue with mortgaging the home to buy Miley Cyrus tickets. It's one thing to let parenthood change you -- to rightly make your kids a priority; it's another thing to completely forfeit your identity and become nothing more than an extension of your child's tastes. In years past, this kind of sloughing off of the various predilections that make someone an adult didn't have the far-reaching effect that it does today; before the age of viral transmission, YouTubed kingmaking and iRule, prepubescents didn't really have the ability to inflict their will on the rest of us. But all that's changed now that text messaging and the internet have allowed for the creation of a hive mind -- and what's worse, one that's turned Generation-Y into one big conduit/amplifier for whatever's been cleverly marketed in its direction. It's no longer a kid grabbing Mommy's sleeve and screaming, "I want that!" It's a kid hooking into the Borg and joining with every other kid in the country, then voting and calling and posting and commenting and asserting power in every way possible until his or her request is no longer a request but a demand, and one that's been handily brought to fruition. In the chaos theory of popular culture, all it takes anymore is a few butterflies flapping their wings to start a tempest that becomes a juggernaut. The 'tweens decide what they want, the parents follow, the lapdog media that are always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing trumpet it, and before you know it, it's unavoidable -- on every TV and radio and in every magazine and department store across the nation.
The easiest way to change this would be to simply stop allowing them to have such a deafening voice. Believe it or not, adults are still in charge; they can say "no" once in awhile, or take away the cell phones attached to their children's ears, or pry their hands away from the computer keyboards. The bottom line is that what a bunch of little Veruca Salts want, particularly when it comes to entertainment, is what the rest of us are getting stuck with -- and I didn't grow older, endure bad relationships, a drug addiction and various harsh disappointments, and now pay an exorbitant rent and $4.15-a-gallon for gas so that I can have David Fucking Archuleta rammed down my throat by some lovestruck 12-year-old.
To twist a lyric from The Doors -- they've got the numbers, but we've got the guns.
Or in this case, the plugs.