The New Gods

2 Apr

During some of my eternal putzing around on the internet and the youchube, I began putting a few pieces of an idea together. It’s an all-encompassing idea that establishes the foundation of zeitgeist of a new era, that or just a really good topic for drunken evenings at the bar. Here is the premise: Let’s say that entrainment and/or pop culture has been the comparable to religion, or at the least a way to learn how to live a moral and hip life, for the current and past few generations. So, going forward for the next two-thousand years or so, who will be the gods of this new religion? And instead of breaking it down in to a simple Judeo-Christian trinity plus the devil way, let’s kick it Hellenistic style and bust out some pop culture equivalents to Greek gods. The arbitrary set of rules state that each possible god has to perfectly embody a trait of the current zeitgeist and be universally recognized. So, as much as I’d like to put Bukowski down as a Dionysus-esque type of god, there is no way that my parents’ neighbor or eighth grade geography teacher would know who he was, so that’s a no go. Other than that the rules are pretty loosey-goosey, fictional character, twitter handle or iconic pair of kicks anything is game.

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Aphrodite: Kim Kardashian

I may have already lost you, but here’s the rational why KimmyK should be the goddess of love, sex and beauty:  It’s pretty well established that she has nothing going for her other than her beauty and her booty, and while she isn’t the first person to be famous for being famous, or becoming famous because of an heir and a sextape, she’s done it the best. Turning an hourglass figure and dark eyes into a string of hulking athletes, fame and fortune for her whole family and a special place in every male’s, adolescent or otherwise, fantasies. All while staying out of prison. The only trouble she’s really drummed up is over her sham marriage, which is exactly the kind of thing you’d want a modern goddess of love, sex and beauty to be a part of. With her marriage to Kris Humphries she re-defined marriage as nothing more than a currency for fame, something to be exploited for personal gain, and simultaneously squashed virtually every claim that marriage is a sacred institution. That is the work of pop god if I’ve ever seen it. All of that, plus think of the tragic ending to this story when she’s hospitalized for nearly working out to death trying to regain her pre-pregnancy body.

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Ares: Dick Cheney

Let me explain why this isn’t as obvious as it may first appear. Yes, Dick Cheney was a horrible war criminal, and yes, Ares is the god of war, but that’s not why this association works. I would suggest in my novice, unclassically-trained, rudimentary understanding of Greek culture that war held a very similar place in the hearts of Athenians, as capitalism holds for present day pop culture enthusiasts. Where as we know it’s important, we have a rudimentary knowledge of how it works and it’s very easy to blame a whole lot of things we don’t understand on it and have a fair chance of placing the blame in the right vicinity. So, that being said, while it is convenient that Cheney is a warmonger, I’m putting him here for his brilliant execution of turning the humble position of Haliburton CEO to the vice president of the USA, and the president of handing out defense contracts to former employers. That is a move that would bring a tear of joy to Ayn Rand’s super-human eye. Let’s face it, when corporations are buying positions a elevated as the VEEP the whole political system has become nothing more than another American pastime to allow people root for their favorite team.

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Dionysus: Harry Potter

As I’ve stated before, I haven’t read nor will ever read a syllable of a Harry Potter book, but the amount content and the massive cult following it has already evokes a religious-like devotion. But, the reason Harry Potter gets put on the list is because of the explanation I get about why the books are so popular; “It makes you feel like a kid again. All the magic and wizards, it’s so much fun.” The residual effects of a generation of latchkey kids are at the heart of the popularity of Harry Potter. That longing for a perpetual childhood and life free of responsibilities fits nicely with the Dionysian ecstasy of wine. There are college students that do more than just break a sweat while pretending to play Quidditch with brooms between their legs. They play a fictional game on college clubs while their parents pay for them to learn adult independence. The line between irony and earnestness has vanished under the pursuit of the Golden Snitch. So, get drunk on whatever fictional booze appears in these children books, change your name to Hagrid or Hermione and get Harry Potter face tattoos cause childhood is never ending.

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Hades: Bill O’Reilly

So for this one I am going to go slightly Judeo-Christian angle. If entertainment has become the new religion, then the most blasphemous form of entertainment has to be the O’Reilly Factor. My stomach just turns thinking about someone asking me, “Oh did you see that segment on the O’Reilly Factor. . .” in reference to anything, I can’t imagine the shock I’d go into if I found out someone relied on that show for their pop culture news. Bill O’Reilly gets the same reaction out of people that devil-worship did in the eighties. If I was a teenager forming a hardcore death metal band, I wouldn’t call myself a devil worshiper, I’d just get a membership to The O’Reilly Factor fan club. And while nobody wants anything to do with Hades’ domain, there are still plenty of people in the underworld, just like the millions of people enabling O’Reilly to bully his way to 1% status. In fact, any Fox News programing and the culture section of People Magazine have to be the ouija board and Satanic bible to the culture makers at Pitchfork and The AV Club. Don’t be surprised when offensive music really becomes offensive again by simply idolizing the seediest aspects of the conservative middle-America.

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Hera: Jennifer Aniston

Here she is; Jennifer Aniston: the woman that really got into the wrong business. Poor, sweet Jennifer would have been an amazing mom. All of her son’s friends would have a crush on her, and all of her daughter’s friends would want her glamorous life, married to an executive or a partner at a law firm. Or at least I’d like to think that since she’s awful at being a movie star. At this point, the only reason she’s still in movies is so the tabloids have an excuse to talk about her. Nobody cares about a Jennifer Aniston movie, but everyone cares about Jen’s personal life. That is the kind of charisma that makes bake sales profitable, the kind that drives next door neighbors to go to the gym to keep spouses interested, that fuels accessions up the corporate ladder. The kind of charisma that makes little girls feel alright when they realize that they’ll never be Audrey Hepburn, but instead she’s a lonely tabloid star that everyone feels bad for. All that heaped on top of the box office success of Mr. & Mrs. Smith makes her the tragic choice for the goddess of marriage, women and child birth.

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Hermes: Internet

According to LexisNexis, Hermes was the messenger of the gods, god of commerce, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, border crossings and was guide to the Underworld. So, basically everything the internet is used for. Twitter was the Martin Luther and 95 Theses equivalent of gaining access to celebrities, or the priests and priestesses of pop culture as religion. Now fans could have direct access to their idols’ lives. The internet opened up insane amounts of devotion that isn’t just reserved for tweens. The level of pop culture following, consumption, commentary and regurgitation online is insane. There is more written about an episode of Girls or The Walking Dead each week than is was ever written about the death of Alexander the Great, which is both amazing and depressing at the same time. Amazing since this is most certainly the most documented era ever. Depressing because even consuming at a below average rate means that there is so little time to spend in personal creative endeavors, meaning there will be a disconnect between the experiences of people creating the content and the people consuming the content. So, it’s also fitting that Hermes was the guide leading lost souls to the Underworld.

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Poseiden: Steve Jobs

If Steve Jobs isn’t already on the path to being elevated to a deity, then the PR firm he’s got working for his estate is failing at their job. So, it’s an easy call to put him on this list somewhere, but he is one of the main reasons why pop culture and entertainment have taken such religious-esque space in today’s world. His impact on present day pop culture is the size of an ocean surrounding a peninsula. With his Think Different campaign he appealed to the artistic part of everyone’s soul and told the world that all you really need to be an artist is a MacBook or an iPod. This opened the flood gates on amateur produced content. Some of the content, in conjunction with the internet, turned out pretty good, thus prompting more people to buy iPhones and iPads under the guise of giving themselves the power to make the next Avatar, or write the next Hunger Games or produce the next Postal Service album. Rightly so or not, Apple products have built an empire appealing to the creative side everyone thinks they have, the same aspect of our humanity that allows people bow down at the alter of pop culture. Everyone became a more committed member of the church of pop culture thanks to Steve Jobs.

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Zeus: Kanye West

When news broke that the new Kanye West album was going to be titled “I am a God” I mis-read the tweet I and thought it said “I am God” which was shocking, but much more fitting for Yeezy. That is a title for the follow-up to a perfect ten album. Kanye makes amazing content and he’s self absorbed in his own greatness. Sure, he’s a douche bag that makes horrible choices while in the public eye, but that is only a byproduct of what truly makes him best embodiment of the pop culture as religion idea. Here is a guy that has no shame jamming out to his own album, which means that not only does he think that his music is the best things he’s made, he literally thinks that it’s the best thing ever made, and he has the creative chops to back it up. This is the kind of pop culture deity that embodies all of the self-absorption that everyone wants, but in the name of humility holds back. We all, simply because it’s all we’ve ever experienced, feel that we are the center of the universe, but we also know it isn’t true. This is the dichotomy that makes society hum along, and Kanye doesn’t live or create music under the same pretense. He steps outside others peoples tastes and makes things that will appeal to him, which brings a freshness and enthusiasm and passion to all of his work. He doesn’t let his rise up the social ladder degrade the quality. He can rap more about cars and high fashion because the content is just the medium for the universal aspects of his art.  Turns out his album isn’t called “I am God” or “I am a God,” but that’s ok because he already lives and creates like he is, and that is why he should be the head of all of the pop culture gods..

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2 Responses to “The New Gods”

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  1. A Stupid Opinion About Comfort Albums | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly - September 3, 2013

    […] doesn’t interest me and partly because the only music I find worth talking about is Kanye West. It was pretty straight forward, I’d let Caitie tackle all the hard-hitting stupid opinions about […]

  2. More False Idols of Pop Culture | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly - December 14, 2013

    […] been some discussion of which current icons of pop culture could represent the old gods. That post inspired a retort […]

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