Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Counterculture Comeback

Whew! In the last month or so, we've had two sizable earthquakes, over 10 inches of rain and some high winds as well. The upside? Nothing to shovel and perhaps a little attendance uptick at church. We get the message, Lord!

From the Go Figure Dept: Answering questions after giving a speech in which she criticized President Obama for using a TelePrompter, Sarah Palin consulted notes written on her hands. One of the notes was scratched out.

None of our eleven grandchildren is old enough to be a football fan, but the word came back that a couple of them really thought the Superbowl halftime show with The Who was pretty cool.
That got me to thinking. The Superbowl itself and The Who both got started in the mid-to-late 1960's. At the time, they would have represented opposite ends of the entertainment industry spectrum. The NFL's real product, crypto-violence, was presented with the idea that Americans do this better than anyone else. The NFL itself wasn't new, but it was finally out of the shadow of the immensely popular college game. Almost 50 years later, that's still the case, with the League having long proved itself as the best-run, most profitable pro sports confederation on the planet. Are they "The Establishment"? Absolutely.
The Who was just another rock band, but made it a point to show themselves as long-haired rebels willing to do about anything to shock people. They destroyed their instruments on stage and pointed their skinny British fingers at everything older than they were to scream their ascendancy, with the intent of "taking over". By comparison, the Rolling Stones seemed to just want to re-enthrone one of rock music's roots, rhythm and blues, while the Beatles freely borrowed from a wide variety of musical forms. The face they showed the public was usually smiling in an effort to keep their fans' parents from becoming any more hostile than necessary.
Do you see where I'm headed here? The chances of the NFL and The Who combining to put on a show of any kind in those days would have been no more likely than J. Edgar Hoover hosting the leaders of the Black Panthers for barbecue at FBI headquarters.
But time changes things. The Counterculture can become mainstream. Things that were considered "edgy" get to be commonplace. Rappers turn up as character actors on TV dramas, Wall Street sharpies pay big money to hear Sarah Palin speak and once-scary music by The Doors gets played on the radio alongside "It's My Party (and I'll Cry if I Want to)" without a second thought.
I don't know how the NFL and The Who, with band members now the age of NFL owners themselves, decided they now had mutual interests, but I suppose someone deserves credit and will therefore never be hungry again. It goes to show that we can't know the tastes and culture of the future, try as we might to get ahead of the curve. That's how it goes when you're talking 'bout my g-g-generation.


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