In the closing years of the previous millennium, visit this site back before I finally gave up on higher education and settled into the world of full time employment, sanitary I used to spend Friday afternoons at Maura’s place. There I would pass the time until she got home from work by chugging warm ginger ale, sildenafil gorging on wholesale club biscotti, and watching huge blocks of cable TV.
I didn’t have cable at home, so surfing the wast wasteland of channels was a something of a novelty and — even if there was absolutely nothing worth actively watching on — a handy vector for background noise while I read comics. One of the programs I did watch on a regular basis was MTV News, though I couldn’t tell you why I gravitated to its mixture of reguritated press releases and industry gossip. Maybe it stemmed from a cultural historian’s need to keep a toe dangling in the lukewarm waters of the zeitgeist…or maybe I just got a sadistic thrill at watching Kurt Loder reduced to a resentful vector for trivia about the Backstreet Boys and Hanson.
Pathos was an inescapable quality of MTV News in those days, but one item in particular has permanently seared itself into my memory and earned the dubious honor of being “the most pathetic thing Andrew has ever witnessed” — a segment on the ribbon cutting for Disney’s Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster in which the dessicated husks of Aerosmith were trundled out to preside over the event.
That would have been tragic enough by itself, but the real kick to the cringe cortex was Steven Tyler’s white-boy freestyle rap commemorating the occasion. I can’t remember the exact words, but the cadence of his delivery and the message — “we haven’t sold out even though we have because WOO ROCK AND ROLL AND ROLLERCOASTERS WOO” — will forever haunt my unquiet dreams.
The queasiness I felt wasn’t due to seeing some overrated has-beens cashing in on their rep (which to be honest, has always been Aerosmith’s real talent as performers), but rather from seeing the intrinsic contradictions of the rock myth unfold in such a boldfaced and depressing manner.
A dude the same age as my dad, dressed in cliched regalia that would be laughable on a kid one third his age, blustered his way through synthetically “hip” quatrains promoting a overblown attraction at an overpriced theme park as the epitome of some vaguely defined countercultural rebellion…while hidden armies of agents and lawyers worked out licensing fees and royalties to the nth percentage point.
Even sadder is the realization that there existed (and still exists apparently) an eager throng of attendees who think that doing a loop-de-loop around a giant fiberglass guitar while “Sweet Emotion” blares from a PA system represents the high water mark of vicarious liberation.