Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yummy. White. Skinny. Hairy.

Kids are allowed to watch whatever they want. Or at least I think so. Parents can only do so much to curtail their viewing or listening of illicit material. I remember owning Rage Against the Machine's Evil Empire, which was F-bomb heaven as far as I was concerned. And then one day I didn't.

I couldn't find it anywhere. It must have been taken from me. I blamed my parents and they denied their inherent guilt, because when it came down to it, I know that they were secretly happy. One less curse word in the household, or so I thought.

Their guilt is not important. I could still go over to my friend Casey's house and listen to Green Jelly. Those guys were fucking awesome. "Shit Man" and "Three Little Pigs" were great songs, because there was a lot of swear words, and swearing was and still is cool. Back then, the freedom of being able to scream the word "Shit" in the middle of a song was akin to the joy of owning a Lego monorail system. In other words, it brought about a frenzied pre-hormonal state of ecstasy.

If my parents had allowed swearing in the household, I might have been a different person. Someone who did not covet the curse as an object of guilty obsession may in fact use it less. But I would probably swear every other word if that were the case. The same could be said about my parent's ban on sugared cereals (excluding Frosted Mini Wheats, Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats). I covet those cereals, but I'm glad I'm not a fat fuck.

I digress. My parents realized I was a young music obsessive, and after some pressure gave me a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone. For a while, this is all I had for reference. Even at the tender age of 13 I recognized some strange contradictions; Jennifer Aniston on the cover, Britney Spears photographed almost completely naked except for a guitar, dubious celebrity worship, all set against supposedly serious music criticism. My problem is that this magazine is known, especially amongst youths around the world, as a top MUSIC magazine, when in reality it only pretends to be so (much like the soon to be fucked with MTV as a music station). Entertainment is the name of the game here, and Rolling Stone is just another player looking to make connections with the Music Business. Remember them?

Well, they remember you.

This is my thing. Zac Efron is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. This is the guy from Disney's High School Musical and the recently released High School Musical 2. After more than a half-century of fine-tuning, Disney has produced the perfect teen idol. A squeaky clean motherfucker with the charm and teen-abs that 7 year-old girls and 30 year-old women drool over.

Don't deny it, all you 30-somethings!!

And now Rolling Stone has thrown in their hat and joined in on the tortured collusion. This is the kind of Rolling Stone cover that makes me throw up in my mouth. Rolling Stone knows how to pick their teen idols, don't they? Now parents don't even need to censor the television! They can just cut the cable and play an endless loop of High School Musical!! Huzzah!!

Remember your favorite and mine, Mr. My Guitar is Talking Peter Frampton? Yeah, well who and what was responsible for the application and then re-application of "teen idol" status that killed any attempt Frampton could make at becoming a "serious artist"?

Yummy. White. Skinny. Hairy.

Yup. None other than Rolling Stone. Disney only wished they could have been in on this shit. We were still several years away from the brilliant mindfuck that was "Kids Incorporated" so they would have to bide their time.

Also, notice the author of the offending article, every one's favorite teenage-rock-writing misanthrope Cameron Crowe. Frampton may have been a one-trick-pony, but Rolling Stone and the Business needed a cash cow. And they had him for a while until he matured and was tossed to the curb.

And now we have this shit pile of a cover. I know that Rolling Stone has always toed the "Tiger Beat" line, but fucking c'mon! How can you possibly take a music magazine seriously when a teenage heartthrob decides to take his shirt off on the cover. Wow, that's pretty racy stuff (sigh).

And the article itself? The blurbs I've been able to uncover are almost too upsetting to copy and paste. But to get to the gold, you've got to slog through the fecal matter...

"As long as I stay boring, I think I'll be fine," he (Efron) declares.

So that's your strategy for success? Just stay boring? "Yeah, seriously," he says. "I'm going to try."

This is a gripping article. I'm on the edge of...yawn. Your strategy is surprisingly effective, Mr. Efron.

He picks at his scrambled eggs and brown rice with his fork. "I've never done interviews like this before," he says. "I'm still so new to this, it's literally a one-in-a-million chance that I'm here."

Couldn't disagree with you more, Zac. Maybe when you were first signed by Disney you could still say that. But there is a 100% chance that you're there now. Rolling Stone likes money, so they had a little talk with Disney, and voila! There you are. Once the Disney machine starts cranking, there's no stopping it.

Also, would you like to know why I think this article doesn't belong in a MUSIC magazine? Article author Neil Strauss provides us with some pretty accurate reasons:

On Zak's landmark film, High School Musical: High School Musical has no double-entendres, visionary artistry or adult appeal. It is not even bubblegum enough to be enjoyable on an ironic level. It is plain vanilla, no sprinkles; it is the type of hormone-drained, rebellion-free idealized teen fantasy that parents want their kids to see (the lovers in the movie don't even kiss).

Plain vanilla. Ugh. We have officially entered Tiger Beat territory here. It's rebellion-free! It's a teen fantasy! It's the cover story in an internationally recognized music magazine!

On Zak's contributions to the music: Of course, he barely even sang on the album, but we'll get to that later.


However, Efron now has the clout to play by his own rules, so he fought Disney -- and won -- in order to be allowed to sing on the movie and album this time around.

"I didn't even sing on the first album," he admits. "It wasn't my voice in the movie. Even though I wanted to do it."

You know what you fought for, Zak, in fighting to sing on the record you're supposed to sing on? You fought for your right to sing badly and have studio techs auto-tune your vocals. Congratulations, you've...won?


"If I had to hear the High School Musical songs anymore," he confesses, "I probably would have jumped off something very tall."

Awesome. May your exploited image inspire teenagers everywhere to do the same.

This is music to the Industry's ears.

"My ears hear beautiful music. Thank you Zac Efron,
soon teenagers everywhere will only enjoy
vapid safe entertainment. I'll tell the others!"

1 comment:

Mattie-O said...

I'm feeling a lot of bonding here, Mr. Temperance.

I, too, had an adolescent fondness for curse-filled funnery. My personal favorite fixes were the beloved Pantera anthem "Fucking Hostile," and of course "Where Eagles Dare" by the Misfits, which I actually still regard as one of my all time favorite jams.

I, too, lost a precious item to the maw of parental taste - my "Jesus Built My Hotrod" Ministry t-shirt, which my mother absolutely HATED, and then one day it disappeared into the ether.

I, too, had a year's subscription (or so) to Rolling Stone - though here's the part where I feel old as fuck, cause my first issue was the original Nirvana cover story (I could probably quote large portions from memory), and one of my last was the Cobain death tribute.

Some of it was great - I have particularly fond memories of a great interview with Axl Rose, as well as some hot-as-fuck Cindy Crawford pictures - and I didn't even like Cindy Crawford.

But yeah, they lost the plot in a major way. I remember them busting out a ***** review of "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" back when indie was a cool as it could ever be. Apparently, those days are over, and now we live in Zac Efron's world.

Ain't it but a bitch?