Thursday, May 22, 2008

Feeling Groovy?

I was born in 1970 which means I’m pretty much the backbone of Generation X. I don’t really know what that means but thanks to our society's endless need to label everything that’s the way it is.

I grew up listening to my grandparents congratulate themselves for surviving the Great Depression and winning World War 2 while the Baby Boomers patted themselves on the back for the 60s. They were revolutionaries, man. Meanwhile everything important had been handled and the world was going to end in THE YEAR 2000 but I was still getting grief for being such a slacker.

Now the center mass of the Baby Boom Generation has turned 60 and American Consumerism is succinctly illustrating just how lame they are. No generation of senior citizens has been coddled and catered to quite like these rebellious movers and shakers who claim to have set the world on its axis.

I don’t mean any disrespect but in addition to Dennis Hopper schilling some sort of investment portfolio designed to help Boomers go gently into that good night while they pretend to rage against the dying of the light by spending money, there are numerous marketing campaigns that make it clear that this generation is a lot more Baby than Boom.

Take the Jitterbug. This is a cellular phone marketed to the AARP set. In fact they invest heavily in AARP advertising. Jitterbug’s gimmick is that there are no gimmicks. They’ve eliminated all of those dad-burned buttons and features like cameras and full color screens. It’s easy to use because, after all, old people are stupid.

Trek has followed up on that angle by marketing a three-speed bicycle that automatically shifts. It hearkens back to one of those clunky old cruisers, has a big springy seat and promises to help you “feel like a kid again”. Believe me, once Alzheimer's sets will any way.

Trek is trying to keep its options open and does market the bike to a younger crowd as well but considering that when I was a kid we actually wanted as many gears as you could cram on a sprocket, I think it’s safe to say the target demographic is the 60 and over crowd. The extra wide seat won’t rip a hole in your Depends and there’s a convenient storage compartment for your spare teeth.

What happened to I hope I die before I get old? How can it be that the generation that was once defined by something as wild as Woodstock is now hobbling gleefully into the bliss of senility? I know that you can’t stay young forever but do you have to embrace the cliché of being old?

What really irks me is the fact that I can’t seem to get a break. Growing up I was bombarded with movies about Vietnam and television shows about hippies turning 30. Now I’m getting hit with movies like the Bucket List where a couple of geezers try to live it up before they keel over. At least my grandparents had the decency to step aside and let the faster train roll on by. When life got to be more than they could handle they checked into Sunnyvale Acres and got by on cards and the occasional visit. Baby Boomers are turning the whole world into a retirement community. It’s OK is you want to be lame, just don’t drag the rest of us down with you. Pull over to the right and let the rest of us by.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Get out of the way, Gramps

Contrary to what John McCain says, Hamas has not endorsed Barack Obama. That’s just not something Hamas would do. Even if they thought Obama might give them an audience, no Hamas leader would risk his neck by publicly endorsing an American Presidential candidate. Of course in the modern era of politics facts aren’t important. Photo ops and sound bites make or break you. There is one fact that nobody can escape: John McCain is old. We’re not talking older McCain is just plain old.

I know, we aren’t supposed to discriminate based on age. Well that’s a great idea but when it comes to elected officials we already do. Nobody younger than 35 can serve as the President of the United States. Apparently people under the age of 35 are too naïve and inexperienced to grasp the nuances of public policy and foreign relations. It doesn’t matter that our current President might have an IQ under 35 giving him the mind of a hamster, age is more important than smarts.

So why should we leave the other end of the lifespan open? When that phone rings at 3:00am do you really want Pappy fumbling around for his dentures? I don’t. I also don’t want him nodding off during cabinet meetings or regaling important foreign officials with highly inappropriate stories about his days in the Navy. Morocco? I knew a great whore from Morocco…

Even if McCain is all there, which doesn’t seem to be the case, There is the simple inevitability of the cycle of life. McCain is practically knocking on death’s door. He could go gently into that good night any day now. Granted, life doesn’t come with any guarantees…other than the fact that it will end which is really the point. In addition to the everyday risks we all face (car accidents, plan crashes, meteors, killer bees, flesh eating bacteria, Glen Close…) McCain’s on the edge of his own mortality. It's like we're all playing Russian Roulette excpet he's got five chambers loaded.

Making matters worse is the fact that McCain’s logged more mileage on that wrinkled old carcass he calls a body. He was tortured in Vietnam for five years. You have to respect the price he paid to serve his country but if smoking can shave 10 years off your life what does torture do? It’s a virtual miracle that the old coot is still breathing but his luck won’t last forever. In fact, it probably won’t last through the first year. Presindets are expected to put in long hours, and naps during Matlock at 1400 hours just won't cut it. Can McCain put in 16 hour days? I know Bush didn't but we see how that's turned out.

We’ve seen signs that he’s slipping. Erroneously crediting Hamas with endorsing Obama is just a cheeky error in judgement but this guy got the players in the Iraq mess mixed up. Sure, most people have trouble keeping Sunni and Shiite Muslims straight but McCain’s talking about keeping troops over there for another 100 years or so. It would be nice if he had some idea who they’ll be fighting and why. If McCain can’t keep the friends and foes straight we’re going to see things get worse before they get better.

Don’t get me wrong, old people are great but there’s a reason we send them off to nursing homes as soon as we can get the power of attorney form signed. McCain might be fit to serve a term as the president of his shuffle board club, but I’m not so sure about the White House. Age might be nothing but a number but so is a golf score. When it comes to keeping this country on the green McCain is a few strokes over par.

Friday, May 02, 2008

She's just being Miley

Fatherly Love?
(photo by Annie Leibovitz...Vanity Fair)

Apparently Miley Cyrus didn’t know that posing in the nude is sexual. Now that her spread in Vanity Fair has stirred up controversy among the puritanical core of her fan base, Miley is playing the role of the victim. She’s embarrassed by the photos and feels betrayed by the photographer, Annie Leibovitz.

To use the vernacular of Miley’s typical fan: What-ev.

Look, sweetheart, you took all your clothes off and wrapped yourself up in a satin sheet. What did you think that shoot was about?

Of course Miley knew damned well what she was doing. She’s only 15 but she’s been an international superstar for the past few years. Disney’s been selling her sex in that plausibly deniable way they'vemastered in all their years of pimping kids, so don’t tell me Miley didn’t go into this shoot with eyes wide open.

And that’s OK. At 15, Miley should want to shed the Hannah Montana persona and be herself, which happens to be a cornpone country singer with decent looks, a great body and average vocals. Combine that with schmaltzy chicken-fried bloodlines courtesy of achy-breaky Billy Ray and you’ve got a CMT sensation on your hands.

Speaking of Billy, he’s in the shoot with his daughter. In fact he’s in one of the most disturbing photographs in the history of pop culture. He’s staring wistfully in the distance, wearing another regrettable hairdo and a cheesy post-Eurotrashian leather vest while Miley lies across his lap staring into the camera with bedroom eyes. It would be a great sensual picture if not for the heaping helping of incestuous ick. Annie Leibovitz might be innocent of misleading Miley but she did snap that nasty picture. It made me think back to the story about Miley attending a so-called “Purity Party” with her dad where she promised to protect her cherry for him. Ewww!



If you want to blame anybody for the shoot blame him. He’s supposed to be her father and most fathers would have blown their tops the minute their daughter was asked to remove hers. Of course, Billy’s parental credentials were already in question before the shoot. While we don’t know the whole story we do know that Miley got cast as Hannah Montana a few years ago, Billy packed up the family and moved to Beverly…Hills, that is. Somehow he managed to parlay Miley’s role into a supporting gig playing Hannah Montana’s dad and the rest is history. Billy turned the shows popularity into a couple of recent hits for himself and, if he’s half as cunning managing his career as he’s been with his daughter’s, he might avoid becoming a pop culture punch line for the second time in his life.

In all honesty there’s nothing wrong with Miley’s coming out party. Some of the pictures were a little sexy. As a guy who’s far too old to be ogling girls Miley’s age it’s a little unnerving because it forces me to draw an internal line somewhere between acknowledging that she’s a cute kid and sneaking off to the men’s room for a midday flogging. I think I’m mature enough to handle it.

The people freaking out are the hoards of idiot parents out there responsible for selling out every Hannah Montana concert. They have daughters that worship Hannah/Miley. What will this do? Well, if Miley has that much of an influence over your child you were probably screwed long before Miley got naked.

Even if you’re a decent parent who has done a good job of keeping the whole Hannah Montana craze in perspective there’s a pretty good chance that your daughter was going to develop a sexual appetite some where in the middle of her teenage years. Don’t blame Miley, Annie, Billy, or Liberals. There’s a little thing called biology that triggers sexual behavior around the same time the baby-making bits start working.

Rather than hide your kids from sex and throw wild tizzies whenever the next Lindsay/Hilary/Miley starts to get her freak on you might want to engage in a realistic discussion about sexuality. Instead of laying down mandates such as: NO SEX UNTIL YOU’RE MARRIED, perhaps more realistic parameters are in order. After all, we’ve pretty much established that religion and Purity Pacts simply don’t work. If anything those alternatives to reality prove to be counterproductive. Sure, kids might not be engaging in traditional baby-making vaginal intercourse but they’re doing everything else you can think of and quite a few things you probably can’t imagine. Have gun will holster. Where there’s a hole there’s a lay.

Miley’s got no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed of those pictures. She doesn’t have to apologize for wanting to feel sexy. At 15, her parents have the ability to sign off on things like the Vanity Fair piece so if you want to blame anybody blame Billy Ray, but be careful with doling it out. Incestuous pictures notwithstanding, Billy Ray probably knows his daughter and might have felt that she was mature enough to handle the adult context of those pics more importantly, Billy Ray doesn’t have to consider what impact his daughter’s career path might have on millions of girls around the world.

It’s disappointing to see the Cyrus family turn tail and run from the outrage. Billy Ray’s claiming that the more illicit pictures, such as the seductive baby in a bed sheet shot that’s got everybody fuming, occurred after he left. Maybe that’s true but there’s still the one where he’s got Miley, in skin tight jeans and a belly shirt, apparently writhing on his lap. He was there for that, wasn’t he?