If ever you wake up feeling that life is futile, that your contribution to it has been minimal, that mediocrity has been your bedmate for too long, that you wish you’d formed a better plan when you were younger; that you’d formed this better, grander, more ambitious plan and stuck with it instead of getting diverted onto less productive pursuits along the way; that when you die nobody’s going to remember you or even care; that you could go back, start again, rework the formula, MAKE A BETTER PLAN this time, and be a more productive, more involved, evolved human being….
Well, if you do, don’t despair. Meet songwriter Jonathan Mann. He’ll make you feel better about yourself.
Not because he’s a good songwriter, or anything like that, but precisely because, on the basis of all the evidence available to me right now, he’s not.
For some reason understood only by himself, Jonathan’s writing a song a day and making a video to go with it. He has a couple of hundred under his belt, or stuck in a drawer, so far. This one would be a good example. A public service announcement for washing your hands.
Unbelievably, Jonathan has just won an award, and a $500 prize, for a jingle he wrote called Bing Goes the Internet. Again, the reason behind the judges’ decision is unfathomable, unless they wanted a tune that’s infuriating and sticks to the inside walls of your brain like half-chewed gum.
Bing Bing Bing Bing Bing goes the Internet.
Microsoft has no plans to use it in any advertisements, you’ll be relieved to hear. Good move. Why risk losing millions of subscribers really?
Jonathan was featured on the Rachel Maddow Show and other TV programs, so his popularity is growing, evidently, and his big, grand ambitious life-plan is working, for which he should be congratulated. In that respect alone, he’s streets ahead of the rest of us – the ones without a plan, who screwed up somewhere along the line and can’t now figure out how to fix it.
His success, however, is not, I would suggest, because he has vast reserves of talent necessarily (although he may), but more because he had the smarts to swim with the current of the times. That’s his genius.
We’re bumbling, as a society, through a murky cultural wasteland right now, in which quality in all corners of the popular arts is snubbed by the masses in favor of lame, cheap, half-baked dross in all its many glorious hues. These days in America, the less intrinsically valuable something is, the more we seem to prize it and the better it does.
At the risk of sounding disgustingly superior and haughty, I have a theory about this.
Somewhere along the line, perhaps about twenty years ago, I believe that some visionary, bright-spark politician had a spectacular idea. “We’re going to pull money from education,” he said.
Doesn’t seem that spectacular at first, right? In fact, it seems like the very reverse of spectacular. But wait. Hear me out.
“We won’t actually say we’re pulling money from education, of course,” the bright spark told his close political allies. “As a matter of fact, we’ll say the opposite. We’ll say there’s nothing more important than nurturing our kids and funding their education, and we’ll keep on saying that. That’ll be our mantra. But at the same time, we’ll continually underfund it so that they don’t really get an education that’s worth anything.”
And that’s what they’ve done. Why?
Because, in the years following this, our schools were able to turn out millions upon millions of undereducated, undisciplined, spoilt teenagers.
- barely bright enough to spell or think, or speak in complete sentences without punctuating them with, “like” or “y’know what I’m saying?” or “awesome, dude.”
- without passion for causes and unmoved by corruption in high places;
- dumb enough to buy any product that Big Business threw at them, including terrible, loud, badly-written, unfathomably awful movies, and music without tunes that virtually anyone could have written, and expensive but pointless items of junk technology that become outmoded and outdated almost as soon as they hit stores.
According to the spectacular plan, these undereducated masses would eventually become adults. Clueless adults, barely able to grasp the world around them; who couldn’t find America on a map or name the constellations or tell you how an engine works, although they would believe in Jesus, and know the name of Paris Hilton’s dog, as well as the characters in an absurd, badly-animated Japanese cartoon.
Being uneducated, they’d have no context for understanding politics or economics, no manners, no verbal, intellectual, or social skills, and barely a grasp on the way the world works, thereby leaving them wide open and vulnerable to largescale manipulation by marketers, advertisers, and PR people. In short, the space in their minds that would otherwise have been occupied by education and original thought and inventive ideas, would be handed over wholesale to big corporations.
It’s like the worst, cheesiest kind of science fiction story ever, and yet it’s actually happening, we’re seeing it every day.
The minds of millions of Americans are now like blank billboards, available for rent. Need someone to watch your awful derivative TV cop show full of violence and explosions and generic rock music? No problem. Untapped millions in every demographic are ready to oblige.
Need someone to listen to the right-wing propaganda and trivial distractions spewed out by lunatics on cable “news” and actually believe unquestioningly what they’re saying? Step right this way. We have the masses you’re looking for.
Need a mob of ignorati to:
- vote for an Alaskan governor who barely understands the world beyond her own state and make her vice-president;
- eat plastic food full of pesticides and other chemicals, food that’s killing them;
- buy drugs advertised on the television that will do them more harm than good;
- support a war waged for oil under the guise that we’re fighting terrorists;
- oppose a new healthcare plan that will actually help millions of people and make their lives better;
- believe that the president was born abroad and doesn’t have a legitimate US birth certificate;
- cower under make-believe accusations that the country’s becoming socialist;
- stand in the way of gay marriage?
Well, fear not. We have millions of uneducated, empty-headed fools who’ll buy every word. Why? Because it was planned that way.
In short, America is now in the grip of these people, the Ignorati. They’re taking over. They’re in every office, every store, every mall, every college, every workplace right across America.
And that, my dears, I would contend, is why Jonathan Mann’s jingle Bing Goes the Internet is not rubbish. Far from it. It’s an important sign of the times. And why it’s featured on the front page of the Huffington Post today, and why he won an award for writing it.
That, or he’s a major talent and I’m missing something. It’s possible.
You be the judge. Here’s another song he wrote. And if you know of a way to get this tune out of my mind for the rest of the day, please let me know. Which after all is the secret to a good jingle, right?
There’s also a recent rant from Craig Ferguson about youthful stupidity that I heartily recommend. You’ll find that HERE.
www.cashpeters.com On Twitter @cashpeters. Plus Facebook….blah blah blah.
See Cash’s video HERE
Read Cash’s book HERE.