Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Essay Question

No Listomania today -- sorry. I'm using the long holiday weekend as an excuse for some well-deserved slacking off, but we will return to traditional business next week.

In the List's place, however, I offer a meditation on (among other things) rock-and-roll, prompted both by my ranting about Lady Gaga over the last day or two and the fact that I had occasion this week to re-read Jules Feiffer's superb 1965 The Great Comic Book Heroes, still one of the best books ever written about pop culture. Feiffer concludes it with the following paragraph; he's talking specifically about comics, but I think the point he's really making is somewhat broader.
Comic books, which had few public (as opposed to professional) defenders in the days when Dr. Wertham was attacking them, are now looked back on by an increasing number of my generation as samples of our youthful innocence instead of our youthful corruption. A sign, perhaps, of the potency of that corruption. A corruption -- a lie, really -- that put us in charge, however, temporarily, of the world in which we lived and gave us the means, however arbitrary, of defining right from wrong, good from bad, hero from villain. It is something for which old fans can understandably pine -- almost as if having become overly conscious of the imposition of junk on our adult values: on our architecture, our highways, our advertising, our mass media, our politics -- and even in the air we breathe, flying black chunks of it -- we have staged a retreat to a better remembered brand of junk. A junk that knew its place was underground where it had no power and thus only titillated, rather than above ground where it truly has power -- and thus, only depresses.
As I said, Feiffer was talking specifically about comics, but he might just as well have been talking about rock, no?


[Shamless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best or worst holiday-themed films -- is now up as usual over at Box Office. Hey -- no slacking over there, it pays the bills. In any case, I'd take it as a particular favor this week if you could find a minute and maybe go over there and leave a comment. Thanks.]