Thursday, January 24, 2008

Red-Headed Stepchild

I find it interesting that Christianity is so adaptable. This religion is notorious for its "if you can't beat 'em, join' em" strategy throughout the ages. Whether its the realization that the pagans have their traditions that you're not gonna shake, so you might as well let 'em do it, or the adaptation of sermons when the truth of science becomes unavoidable, the majority of this religious group has eventually jumped on the bandwagon of progress.

But that bandwagon grew a 5th wheel when Christians decided to move in on rock and roll. They ruined it! The whole Point of rock music was to let loose about sex, drugs, being bad, and being angry. I'm sure most people with a pulse know this already, but "rock and roll" was originally a euphemism for sex. Thus "rock and roll music" was an old blues reference to singin' about doin' the nasty, and that was 2/3 of its appeal.

All of the offspring of Rock and Roll, save one, have taken the original shape of rock and accentuated one aspect of it. Grunge and Punk went off in the angry direction, R&B took the sex section and ran with it, Pop only exists because it was cheap and easy to produce, and several other groups and sub-categories emerged from experimental mating within the party pad.

But Daddy Rock and Momma Roll spawned again, and just as you occasionally get a Mississippian with a tail, the music family spat out a bad egg. They'd dealt with this before--Metal spent 25 years in its darkened bedroom reading comic books and getting heavier, but eventually it moved to Iceland and the family let out a breath. This slip of judgment, however, this error had the potential to undermine the clan at its core.

It was clean. It was healthy. It was...Nice. Ever so nice. With a tucked-in shirt and modest hemlines, sparkling teeth and glassy sheep's eyes, Christian Rock was mimicking the whole family within days of its adoption. It was cute at first, as so many of these things are, following Grunge and Hip Hop around the house spouting nonsense, but as it aged Christian found that it lacked the inspiration and vitality to keep up with the family. Everyone tried to help it gain drive, even Hardcore, but Christian still stagnated. Protest had gone Soft before retiring to Berkeley, but it was never really influential anyway. Punk tried shouting at it before giving up, changing its name to Emo, and committing suicide. The singer/songwriters had gone broke and resorted to busking, so they were no help. The rest of the family was meanwhile being beaten to death under the harsh fluorescent lighting of boardrooms and was eventually buried without ceremony outside of Memphis. The only one Christian identified with was Corporate Pop, who's plastic love story and one-size-fits-all platitudes appealed it to the same mindless masses it was trying to reach. Christian gained a following--a naive and helpless, yet arrogant following--and left home with a tent revival tour of the Midwest.

The failed good intentions of Rock and Roll resulted in the creation of a monster which has left a wide path of destruction in its wake. Millions of people were blindsided by it, were wooed and eventually enslaved by it--enthralled by the rhythm until they found themselves trapped in the same rusting pipe organ that they thought they'd defeated. The nice kids with their nice instruments singing nice songs about friendship and peace would suddenly whither and be replaced by hooded monks beating drums skinned with the stretched hides of the unfaithful, demanding obedience and crushing independent thought with promises of eternal reward through glittering x-acto smiles. Like pheasants to a baited field the teens were lured, with the encouragement of grinning drones who looked just like them, into the den of the beast. Only when they realize the music is a hymn do they realize there's no way out...

Erm.. I may watch too many Buffy reruns. But seriously, in high school I was invited numerous times to "free concerts" by smiling acquaintances, with promises of food, door prizes, and lots of fun! It became something of a game to reply with "so no cover--is it BYOB?" just to bait them. I went to one with a friend who said there'd be boys there and was so traumatized that I developed a tic. The event was held in a Baptist-owned warehouse cheekily named The Shack. I'd heard of it and innocently thought it must be a grimy squat where skaters smoked weed and cool kids made out. Then I saw the punch bowls, the plastic checked tablecloths, the popcorn, the sodas, and the chaperones. The preacher of the local First Baptist let the band warm up before hopping onstage, to cheers and applause, to reassure the youths of their coolness before asking the lord to bless this fun night, that everyone involved have a great time but use this event to praise his holy name and enjoy all the gifts of...i went numb. My skin prickled and the ceiling suddenly seemed low and ominous. The air grew thick and toxic and the happy smiling nice children around me melted and blended into one horrible, leering mouth full of glistening razor blades, laughing and asking me to write down my phone number so they could call about next week's "light, informal youth-group intro night." Through clenched teeth I claimed that was my church's youth night and gripped the plastic tablecloth so tightly that the cheery checked pattern came away on my palm. Eventually I escaped to the rear of the building where the roadies were getting stoned and shotgunned a joint with the gaffer just to clear my head. When my ex-friend's dad came to get us I claimed that the orange soda had made me ill.

By my senior year I saw carnage that nearly brought tears to my eyes--most of the theatre crowd refused to listen to what they deemed "secular music" (e.g. all music except the demon spawn of a priest and a choirboy) and instead buried their blatant homosexual desires under pictures of Jesus and Jars of Clay CDs. I can only hope they grew out of it before they imploded.

The same existed in college, but there it was easier to ignore and the theatre kids were real. You'd occasionally get a free bag of "Goodies" from a table of godbotherers--maybe some candy, a water bottle, a t-shirt with something tough-looking-yet-inspirational like "Never backs down. Never gives up." printed on the back in a font like a claw mark, a cd to put in the microwave, and a book to prop that wobbly table on. They handed out fliers for concerts on campus, but that only gave my crowd an opportunity to complain about how they were contributing to the litter problem. In college I was safe from the christian rock. It was there, but its terror was held at bay by my supportive peer group. By surrounding myself with good people I never found myself tempted.

Christian Rock flourishes even now in Charlotte--the Little City that Couldn't. Not satisfied with its terrible traffic, teeth-gratingly mismanaged airport, absent arts culture, plastic yuppie bar district, and purely evil banking uptown, Charlotte had to mar its reputation even further by hosting its own Conservative Fashion Week to a soundtrack of Super Wal-Church soft rock and interviews with virginal homecoming queens who prove that its possible to be cool while sticking to your morals. (who said anything about coolness? I disregarded morals because my hormones told me to, not because I thought i was bad-ass.) Other city newspapers feature young artists and thinkers. Charlotte prints pictures of 14 year olds wearing halter tops over t-shirts. Like a coconut bra on a space suit, you know they want to play along, but they've wound up just making fools of themselves by trying.

Always cutting off the fun bits of our toys, leave it to the Christians to adapt the real world to itself, twisting and mutilating it so badly that its not fun anymore and we're forced to find something else, some new way to rebel, hoping they won't find a way to drain it of life. They (and Disney) killed Rock and Roll--what's next?


Odd question, to anyone who read this far--is it normal for a kitten to have webbed toes?


Ben said...

"Conservative Fashion Week" - a laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. Then I realised that you weren't joking. I still laughed some more, but it was tinged with shock.

Someone tried christian rock here once, but Andy Falkous ate him.

Kim said...

I don't think kitties should have webbed toes...but I bet it's cute. In a weird way.