Fuck You! You and your fucking Batman

It’s September 1989 and the Irish punk band the Pogues is touring America. They play to a capacity crowd of 1300 people at the Power Center for the Arts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This night it’s immediately clear that lead singer Shane MacGowan isn’t up to snuff. Even while gripping the solidity of the mic-stand, the infamously testy and oft-drunken singer can barely stand. He’s off-tune, off-time and nearly doesn’t make it through the opening number.

the-pogues

The Pogues

 

1989 was the height of the first truly ubiquitous superhero movie marketing campaign for Tim Burton’s Batman. This was the film that developed the everywhere-and-then-some advertising template that, to this day, pretty much all superhero movies follow. You couldn’t turn your head without a co-branded Batman happy meal or a Jack Nicholson Joker themed tire commercial.

the_joker

Looks cool, doesn’t he? Not…

The next Pogues song kicks in, but the band stops playing after just a few seconds. Before even managing the first line Shane has lost his balance and careened off stage left. A minute later he stumbles back to the mic and growls, “Fuck you! You and your fucking Batman!”

shane-macgowan_1988

Shane MacGowan 1988

Then he walks off stage for good.

While Shane MacGowan left the Pogues in the lurch that night, he provided me with a mantra for all time.

“Fuck you, you and your fucking Batman,” all too often encapsulates how I feel about pop-culture and its relentless rumination on matters of extreme inconsequence. Just swap out *Batman* with the name of whatever spandex clad franchise is clogging your Facebook feed at the given moment. That done, the next time you think you might actually explode if you see another listicle concerning said franchise, scream Shane’s timeworn entreaty and call it a day. Yes, there’s a strong chance your spouse will leave you, but you’ll have excised the demon.

For example… For months now Star Wars has felt absolutely inescapable. But good Christ people, I hate to break it to you but Star Wars is for fucking kids! Must this mealy bowl of melancholic longing for intra-generational good-versus-evil destiny fulfillment be held up as our cultural epitome? Is this the thing worthy of a great nation’s full resources, or less, even a minute of my time?

SW-THE-FORCE-AWAKENS.jpg

This is some kiddie bullshit…

Allow me to answer that question, FUCK NO!

I’m fairly confident it wasn’t always this way. Like Donald Trump keeps insisting. Things were better back in the day…

Picture Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley (if you know who those people are) arguing at a cocktail party. Imagine Buckley’s trademark lisp as he turns to Mailer and says, “So tell me Norman, I’ll assume you saw the Captain America: Civil War teaser trailer that went up on Friday? Do you really think, as the trailer seems to indicate, that the rest of the rest of the Avengers will actually turn on our most patriotic of heroes?”

buckey_mailer

We may be old, but we are serious men…

No. You can’t. Because that conversation would never have happened! Someone who took him or her self even half way seriously in 1970 wouldn’t devote an iota of thought to a superhero. And don’t let the “ascendance of nerd culture,” fool you into thinking otherwise.

Somehow in the last 20 years we as a society have intellectually devolved and can no longer interact with a story or a narrative unless the characters are wearing skin tight, day glow super hero suits. This is not the proper way of things.

Fuck you! You and your fucking Batman!

photo-the-clash-1977-shane-macgowan-in-the-crowd-at-the-bottom-right-corner

Shane (lower right) at an early Clash gig. 1977?

Now I’m under no illusion that Shane’s slogan is in any way helpful.

Rather, “Fuck you, you and your fucking Batman” is an exuberant capitulation, an artful paraphrasing of, “I give up!” It says, “you win, but still, I refuse to join you in celebrating the soul-less bile put forward as culture. You suck and I’m leaving!”

As out of fashion as it may be, I’m a Gen-X’er and that’s what we do, we bow out. We know we can’t beat ‘em, so we just flip the game board over and walk away. Shit was rigged from the start anyway. We were born to lose and to pretend.

shane

I’d rather it were otherwise. I really do. I wish we could harness all this marvelous technology that seems to leapfrog itself on a near daily basis to elevate the conversation, to actually do some good in this world. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could think about science or art, or perhaps about making people’s lives better? Who knows, maybe some people do that and I just don’t see it. Maybe because I live in Hollywood and all my friends work in entertainment or advertising all I see is the putrid petri dish of self-congratulatory rehashing of the same old, tired origin stories. Chances are that’s the problem.

I think I’ll try and take solace in that idea; that somebody out there is most likely doing some good. Maybe that’s what TED talks are, although honestly they sort of seem like semi-intellectual, self-congratulatory circle jerks. I should probably keep looking. There has to be some good being done out there somewhere. In the meantime…

Fuck you! You and your fucking Batman

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