Scarier Than Covid

Humans are built to worry.  It’s in our DNA.  It’s why we became the dominant species on this planet — and not lunch.  When you’re the slowest, skinniest, weakest predator in the food chain, you need to develop some skills. One of the most important is anticipating danger.  It’s looking into the nice, warm cave and imagining the badass beastie who might be in there, just waiting for an unsuspecting Cro-Magnon Happy Meal to come along.  To be wary of the unknown is to be human.  So when an invisible little bug comes wheelin’ out of (dare I say it?) China and starts killing people, our natural tendency is to say “OMG!  Is it going to get me?”  Good question, but remember: as terrible as Covid is, it’s a temporary pain in the ass.  There are other things in this world that are a lot more permanent — and a lot scarier.  And if we don’t watch out, they WILL get us.  Here are just a few examples.

1 — Record Keeping – Back in the day, when anyone wanted to preserve knowledge, they carved it into a stone.  We literally have tons of examples that are thousands of years old: Hammurabi’s Code, the Rosetta Stone, the Pyramids.  They are all still there for anyone to see.  These days, however, when we want to keep important stuff safe, we rely on digital dots that head off into … I don’t know where.  However, I do know (wherever they go) some adolescent hacker with a grievance can go get them.  Not only that, but if he’s pissed off enough, he can do terrible things to them – with his telephone.  Personally, I’m scared stupid that my medical records, criminal records, bank history, driving history, Amazon account, credit cards, PIN number and library card are all at the mercy of a teenager with a grudge.  Swear at some kid on the subway and you could end up a bankrupt sex offender with a scheduled colonoscopy, outstanding warrants and overdue books.

2 — Lawyers – I can’t even write anything here because I’m scared some bloodsucking lawyer will take offence and sue the pants off me.  (Disclaimer: This is a general comment and not directed at any particular bloodsucking lawyer, living or dead.)

3 — Fraidy-cat Feminism – Nope, I’m not going to go there, either.

4 — The Cyber Mob – There’s a social media lynch mob out there just waiting for somebody – anybody — to step out of line, and there’s no law against them coming after me.

5 — University Students – Young people are supposed to be outrageous.  They’re supposed to say and do things that rankle the rest of us.  They’re supposed to talk about stuff that stodgy old buggers like me shy away from.  It’s their job because that’s where new ideas come from.  So, it scares the hell out of me when I hear undergrads demanding “trigger warnings” to alert them to the imminent danger of — words.  That’s right: we’ve raised an entire generation who are afraid of words.  “Careful, kids — or the nouns’ll get ya!”  It’s impossible to overestimate how dangerous this is.  University students should be on the frontline of our war against ignorance.  They’re supposed to take intellectual risks, not cower in a “safe space,” clutching their “anxiety puppies.”  These are the folks who are destined to deal with the problems of the 21st century.  How?  They can’t even hear the names without getting PTSD.  And BTW, calling them “snowflakes” is demeaning to the survival skills of snow.

And finally, the root of all anxiety in the world:

6 — Politically Correct – This new religion of the intellectually lazy has evangelized the entire world, and those who refused to convert have been slapped into silence. (See item #4.)  It has created so many sacred cows that our conversations are starving to death.  Think about it!  How many topics do you avoid just because it’s easier that way?  How many subjects are verboten?  How many times have you thought twice about expressing an opinion?  It’s getting to the point where we can’t even talk about the weather without some “woke warrior” lecturing us on the evils of climate change.  And the scariest thing about it is there’s never going to be a vaccine available to kill this viral stupidity.

 Now, that’s frightening!

Who’s Number One?

I lost track of popular culture sometime in the 80s, and now I’m permanently stuck with big hair and thin ties.  It’s not that I don’t like contemporary stuff; I do (pick and choose) but I have no idea who does what or even when.  For example, I was shocked to hear Destiny’s Child on my Classic (read — Old Man) Rock Radio station — so I looked it up.  My God! That was 20 years ago!  Anyway, I said all that to say I’m no expert on anything in the 21st century, but that’s not going to stop me from having an opinion.

So…  Last week, YouTube announced that it has a new “Most Watched” music video.  More people have clicked, looked and listened to this 2 minute track than any other song in human history.  It’s “Baby Shark!”  Just when I thought it was safe to finally come out of the closet and admit I actually like “Let it Go,” the mega-annoying tweenie hit from Frozen, apparently, two-year-olds have taken over the world.  (What next?  Womb music?)  Okay, okay, okay!  It’s a phenom: over 7 billion hits is nothing to sneeze at, but there’s a bigger question going on here.  Why is “Baby Shark” even in the conversation?  It’s not real!  It’s a novelty babysitter song for stressed-out parents who need a minute to sneak away and eat a candy bar or have a pee – in peace.  Here’s the deal.  Millions of chubby little fingers tapped this redundant little ditty to Numero Uno in the universe — even though most of those little fingers haven’t even mastered a knife and fork yet.  Unfortunately, that pushed all the good stuff out of the way.  “Despacito” (one of the best videos I’ve seen in years) got knocked off the top spot, and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was moved to third.  (BTW, how did that guy become a heartthrob?  Yeah, he can sing, but if he’s sexy, I should have girls lined up around the block — and I’m old.)  Meanwhile, “Uptown Funk” in its original incarnation is 6th and the mighty “Gangnam Style,” the video that started it all (first to one billion!) is now 7th!  My point is, these are all recognizable songs, musical renditions of something — even if it’s only an aging K-Popper leaping around as if he has an unfortunate itch.  Putting “Baby Shark” in that mix is like including Velvet Elvis in the National Portrait Gallery because it’s on so many trailer park walls.  Face it, folks!  Sheer numbers are not always the best way to rank things.

Way back in the day (1958, to be exact) when Perry Como got the world’s first Gold Record for a million sales of “Catch a Falling Star,” that number actually meant something.  It meant people were willing to take the time and trouble to leave the house and go to a record store; and, more importantly, it meant they were willing to shell out some hard coin to take Mr. Como home with them.  That’s a lot different from showing your kid how to click “play” cuz you need time to fold the laundry.  These two should be treated differently.

I understand that a million isn’t what it used to be, and even a billion won’t get you into the top 20 on YouTube.  However, I do think if YouTube wants to be taken seriously, they shouldn’t be rolling out those numbers quite so promiscuously.  Quite frankly, more isn’t preordained to be better.  If you’re using that flawed logic, sheep should be running the show in Australia.  After all, there are 3 times as many of them down there as there are people. 

Happy Birthday, Kim!

This year, Hallowe’en is going to be different from any other time in living memory.  I know — I’ve had my problems with All Hallow’s Eve recently (It used to be one of my favourite celebrations until it got hijacked by a bunch of nitwits!) but I’m not one to kick somebody when they’re down.  So, rather than taking a few gratuitous shots at a holiday that’s having a hard time, I’ve decided to look elsewhere for something to write about — and I found it!

Once again, Kim Kardashian has gone out of her way to tell you – point blank — just how much she thinks it sucks to be you.  She gave herself a 40th birthday party torn out of the pages of Decadent Weekly.  This particular debauch was held on a private island, and all attendees were tested, quarantined, disinfected, sanitized, sterilized and washed — toes to tonsils — before they were allowed anywhere near the Queen of CyberSleaze.  Kim herself was in fine form, harnessed into a dress specially engineered to make the jiggly bits stand still and to showcase Silicon Valley.  She had enough makeup on that no virus could possibly fight its way through and walked on tottering heels as though she were following an imaginary plow.  (You go, girl!)  Most of the other women had that glazed look of one-too-many shots of Botox (no smiling or you’ll crack the paint!) and the men were, as usual, forgettable.  There were enough “candid” photos to satisfy even the tweeniest of tweens and so many bent-knee poses that I’m certain Barbie was jealous.  And the whole mess was documented on Twitter with a tease that there was more coming soon to a television near you. 

So what’s the big deal?  Just another set of cyber-celebrities strutting their stuff on Twitter – happens every day.  After all, everybody knows that, despite the hype, we’re NOT all in this together, and pandemic or no, rich celebrities are doing rich celebrity stuff all the time.  Ho-hum!  Nor was the backlash anything special.  Calling Kim Kardashian “tone-deaf” is like calling Kim Jong-un a dictator.  The Kardashian crowd doesn’t care what you think.  These are the folks who would recapture Free Willy and turn him into corsets and perfume if they thought it would give them five more minutes on Instagram.  Actually, the closest anyone got to criticism was Colin Hanks’ “Let them eat cake!”  But no, this wasn’t a modern Marie Antoinette, hobbling around a Tahitian Versailles.  It was more Louis XIV meets Wal-Mart.  One suspects the partygoers were drinking Dom Pérignon laced with Red Bull, dining on roast flamingo stuffed with M&Ms and playing Clue with a real murder.  It was all very nouveau gauche without it actually being nouveau anymore.  The festivities were clearly “been there/done that” tired.  And the “inner circle” looked like they were trying way too hard to convince the peasants that tawdry wasn’t a chore. 

In the 21st century, we’ve all seen lavish parties.  George and Amal rented the Grand Canal in Venice, for God’s sake!  A lot of celebrities own their own islands, but the Kardashians still have to rent theirs.  And the ship they’re taking these days has already sailed.  The once mighty Kardashian brand shares the spotlight with a B-list actress from Suits who wants to be the Queen of Southern California; Ellen, the world’s nastiest sycophant; and a pack of snapping rappers.  By Monday, Kimmie’s birthday bash will be all but forgotten.  Kardashian relevance is getting lost in the Social Media conflagration they created, but, more importantly, the Cult of Celebrity is losing its charm.  The world has moved on.