Something occurred to me while watching a commercial for “We Are the World” benefit record (?) for Haiti. Why not just write a new song for the occasion (as the “WATW” folks did, despite the existence of the earlier — and better — “Do They Know It’s Christmas”)?
Maybe because nothing they wrote would become as universally known as “WATW,” which dates to the early days of cable TV, when there was no Internet to speak of, no major cable networks for anything except sports, news and music — not even any competition for Johnny Carson’s late-night comedy slot (Arsenio Hall came along a few years later in an overlapping slot).
Does this mean that the pre-splintered cultural touchstones of the ’80s and earlier are going to remain the go-to place for people trying to create art or entertainment that resonates universally? Or am I just out of touch with mainstream pop culture? Maybe in 20 years people will drop references to “30 Rock” or “24″ the way people today drop references to “MacGyver” or “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Or maybe in 20 years people will still be touching the same touchstones.
Futurologist-types talk about “the singularity” — the point at which medical or other technologies allow those who are living to keep on living, either by not dying or by having their minds cybernetically transferred. I wonder if we’re at the point of a singularity in cultural (or at least pop-cultural) terms. Or maybe it’s just that the late-20th century pre-splintered cultural touchstones just happen to also be my cultural touchstones, and this is all just wishful thinking.
(pic via Sunny spells and scattered showers)