I write about music and movies for the pop culture website OverthinkingIt.com. Notable examples include:
“The Hubbert Peak Theory of Rock, or, Why We’re All Out of Good Songs”
A few years ago, Rolling Stone magazine added fuel to the music snobbery fire with its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. Anyone casually paging through the list would notice that the bulk of the list was comprised of songs from the 60?s and 70?s, just like the music snobs always say.
I, however, wasn’t content with the casual analysis. So I punched the list into Excel, crunched some numbers, and found an interesting parallel between the decline of rock music quality and, of all things, the decline in US oil discovery and production.
“Donald Trump: The Human Laser Show”
Trump is the human embodiment of the Stone Mountain Lasershow Spectacular.
Both are, on the outside, confused jumbles of bombast and visceral appeals to vague notions of American greatness. But beneath the sound and fury is a rock-solid foundation of centuries of white supremacy.
White supremacy was struck from the rule of law decades ago, and yet large swaths of America continue to accept symbols of its legitimacy all around us. Courts may have outlawed segregation, but the people choose to preserve Stone Mountain and keep coming to it: my Asian immigrant family, black people, white people, and yes, the Ku Klux Klan. This is nothing new. It’s always been here. Every day, for centuries, we paper over our horror stories with fireworks and Michael Bolton music.
It’s not as simple as saying that these movies are fundamentally anti-technology. If Terminator is anti-anything, it’s the alienation of humans from each other through intermediaries, technology being just one of them. In fact, technology is just as often the solution to problems as it is the cause. In The Terminator, Sarah Connor’s roommate can’t hear the Terminator murdering her boyfriend because she’s blasting music on her Walkman, but by the end of the movie, Sarah uses factory machinery to defeat her cyborg pursuer. In Terminator 2, our heroes blow up the world’s most advanced computer facility to save humanity, but they also use their own cyborg to defeat their pursuer and reconnect with their own lost sense of family and belonging. And in both movies, institutional law enforcement poses just as much of a threat to John and Sarah Connor as Skynet does.
What made Guns ‘n’ Roses great, not just good, was how Slash’s incendiary guitar work encased this thematic material with raucous riffs beneath and screaming solos above. Axl screamed of dying in the jungle; Slash created the jungle’s lush undergrowth and sinewy vines. In the videos, Axl worries about dying; Slash uses his powers to defy death and wail on the guitar.