The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday

Midnight in ParisI have a confession to make. After watching Midnight In Paris last week I realized it was the first Woody Allen movie I’d ever seen (unless you count Antz). I’ve never watched Annie Hall and I couldn’t even name another of his films off the top of my head. Some pop culture writer I am…

I wasn’t blown away, but I enjoyed Woody’s subtle neurosis. Midnight follows Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a nostalgic young writer who inexplicably travels back through time to 1920s Paris, where he meets his idols: Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso. Pender, hopelessly obsessed with the past, convinces himself the 20s are a golden age of creativity, only to find out that his new companions share his disdain for the present and wish to  travel back and meet their own artistic predecessors–Gaugin, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. He eventually reaches the conclusion that people of every era long for the “good ol days” and waste countless hours pining for the past.

This evening, while killing time trolling Facebook, I came across the following picture posted by a friend:

The comments on the picture were exactly what you would expect:

  • “this is true and the music was better back in the days”
  • “I love Led Zeppelin, the older music was so much better. New music is complete trash now.”
  • “…those awesome late 60s and 70s bands have something magic about them that was just amazing lol.”

Like Gil Pender, countless young people (most of whom were not alive when Led Zeppelin was around) leapt to praise the past while ignoring or lambasting the present. Led Zeppelin were one of a small group of elite musicians of the 70s (yes, their lyrics are pretty awesome). Rebecca Black is the absolute worst of today’s pop. To compare the two is completely unwarranted, not to mention downright idiotic.

People tend to forget that Led Zeppelin wasn’t pop music, despite its current popularity. 70s pop was plagued by artists like Gary Wright, The Osmonds, and the Partridge Family, just as we’re subjected to the Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber and Ms. Black. And of course there are surely the countless worthless musicians that history has simply chosen to forget (let’s hope Rebecca ends up in that category, appearing only as a blurb on VH1 “I Love the 2000s” shows).

The grass is always greener in another generation. Teens today sport flannel and yearn for the good old days of Eddie Vedder and Billy Corgan. Gen X-ers wish they had been old enough to go to the original Woodstock “when music still meant something.” Time remembers only the worthy, making art history a collage of the greats while erasing the so-so. What we’re left with is a whitewashed portrait of cultural history.

So while Rebecca Black produces awful music, our generation is fortunate enough to have unlimited resources and methods for listening to something–anything–else. You can listen to Zeppelin for free anywhere on the web while you complain about the sad shape of songwriting today.

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