5. Getting Old
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody watches television anymore. Seriously, do you watch TV? Of course you don’t, because you’re on the internet. And the internet is the only valid means of media distribution right now. Even if you do watch TV, it’s probably on the internet. And you’d rather watch internet anyway. But seriously, at least one study has shown that kids these days recognize YouTube personalities more easily than movie stars. That’s not actually that surprising for anyone who spends much time on YouTube. Tyler Oakley has 4.5 million subscribers, last I checked. How many people saw the last Sin City movie? (Okay, maybe that’s an unfair example, because that movie really tanked. I mean, it’s not like I was going to see it, but I thought it would have at least cracked $20 million.)
The point is that YouTube and social media are, as much as it pains me to say it, becoming as popular a means of consumption as the ones I grew up with. That might not necessarily be a bad thing, but it does leave me feeling a little out of place. A lot of YouTube personalities are around my age or younger. (If we broaden it to stuff like Vine, you get people like Nash Grier. Fuck that guy.) The average YouTube subscriber is almost certainly younger than I am. Of course, the majority of YouTubers are a walking case for eugenics, but that could just be an illustration of Sturgeon’s Law. I still remember shrugging when I realized that podcasting was becoming a popular medium. There are a few that I listen to, but overall, it just doesn’t interest me. I already read books, watch TV and movies, and occasionally see plays or concerts. I don’t need to be an expert on all forms of media. And sometimes, I think that the real problem is just the way that we let the 18-24 year-old demographic dictate the direction of our culture. Maybe that’s because they don’t know any better, which makes them easier to manipulate. But what do I know? I’m a blogger. Who the fuck reads blogs anymore?
4. Having Neuroses
It occurred to me recently that I have only once or twice in my lifetime had anything resembling a stable home life. From my well-documented issues with my parents and occasionally the rest of my my family to my also well-documented roommate issues, building a home that is worth returning to every evening definitely seems to be one of my weak points. I’m not sure what to do about that, but the result is that I have any number of habits and insecurities that I can’t stop myself from having but hate myself for. The best living situation I’ve had so far is that one spot I stayed in Manhattan for the latter half of my time there. The landlord did have one weird rule requiring us to pay our rent in cash (I think he’d gotten stung by somebody passing him bad checks before) which meant that once a month, I had to walk down to Wells Fargo, withdraw a large amount of money, then walk back with it in my pocket, but if that’s your biggest complaint, you’re probably doing okay. The only answer here, I suppose, is what RuPaul would say: learn to love yourself. But I could really use a leg up.
3. Not Being Able to Express Myself
I would like to take this instance to sort of defend J.J. Abrams. Most of my nerd friends don’t much like him. I can see why: Most of what he does is just a rehash of other stuff. Cloverfield was basically Godzilla-minus-Godzilla-plus-found-footage-gimmick. Still a decent movie, in my opinion. Super 8 tried really hard to be E.T., but abrupt ending aside, it wasn’t too bad. And then there’s his Star Trek films. Into Darkness had…issues, but it didn’t make me angry, which is saying something. Honestly, what is the harm in rehashing old shit just with a shinier presentation? It’s not going to be particularly good, but it’s not exactly harmful either.
I know I rag on Steven Moffat all the time, but bear with me: In The Day of the Doctor, he added a sub-regeneration between Doctors 8 and 9, now leaving it to us to debate whether Peter Capaldi is really the 12th or the 13th Doctor. Except that there is no debate: He’s the 12th Doctor. You could maybe call John Hurt Doctor 8.5, but that’s exactly what pisses me off. Why did we need to see what happened between Doctors 8 and 9? Even if the only reason they came up with him is that they couldn’t get Eccleston back, the rationale for doing this seems to be that nobody explicitly said there wasn’t a sub-regeneration between Doctors 8 and 9. And that’s not a good reason for doing anything. But as usual, nobody will listen to me. So, you know, I’ll keep howling into the wind.
2. Being Out of Touch from the Moment I Was Born
Let’s return to YouTube for a second. I probably spend more time on there than I should, but the thing is, I’ve been yelling at those damn kids to get off my lawn since I actually was a kid. So I might be able to offer a little bit of perspective on the whole thing. When I was in middle school, one of my best friends told me that XXX was an awesome movie and that he couldn’t wait to see it again. He was a great guy, and probably does not feel the same way about the movie today. Then again, let’s be careful as to what we will excuse in children as a result of their age. Even when I was sixteen, I did not yell “fag” as indiscriminately as Nash Grier does. Never mind that, I didn’t even do that when I was ten. And his apologies are all half-assed “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what I was saying” nonsense. Yes, you did. If you can use the internet, you can go to Wikipedia and read about the AIDS epidemic. I was lucky enough to have missed it, but I’ve seen The Normal Heart, and let me tell you, that shit is terrifying. You have to at least try to learn from your mistakes. Try.
1. I Don’t Know What to Call This One, So I’ll Just Get Right Into
I think part of the issue here is that YouTube and social media cut out the middleman. Miley Cyrus may be headed for a meltdown, but that’s just because she’s surrounded by agents, producers, and possibly friends and family telling her that what she’s doing is a good career choice. Is it better when anyone with a camera can just upload a video and let the world hear their unfiltered thoughts? I’m not sure if I can make that call, but I expect YouTube, Vine, and all that other shit to become a lot more like the music and movie industries in the coming years. They’re too lucrative not to. If you’re a big star on YouTube, you are legitimately a celebrity, even if nobody over 35 has any idea who you are. How long do you think the current model will last? It’s already changing: The big stars on YouTube get bussed around at conventions, assigned a security detail, and mobbed by screaming girls if they dare to step out alone. So really, the content hasn’t changed, just the medium.
There are some child and teen stars who grow up to be well-adjusted people. Mara Wilson was one. She’s a talented writer, an accomplished humanitarian, and as far as I can tell, a nice lady. In her case, that’s probably because she was blessed with a supportive family and smart enough to get out when she realized that Hollywood was through with her. If there is one thing that separates the flash-in-the-pan stars from the ones who just might stick around, it’s the ability to recognize that all of this attention can’t last forever. If you want to stay relevant, you have to be willing to change with the times. Joan Rivers stayed relevant for five decades in showbiz. Regardless of whether you find her funny, that’s some kind of miracle. Her jokes didn’t change all that much, it was just that she never took anything for granted. Smart woman, that one.
When I was in college, some people suggested I start a YouTube channel or something similar instead of writing a blog. I guess they just wanted to hear and see me instead of reading me. I’m glad I didn’t. Even if I had, I would certainly never have gotten all that famous or popular. Because I’m a weirdo. But I like to keep my ear to the ground, and I flatter myself that I have a clearer idea of what’s going on in pop culture than many so-called experts. Let’s face it, nobody is going to know who most of these people are in another twenty years.