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Growing Out Of, Growing Into

June 7, 2011

Sunday night I was flipping through the channels on my television guide when I realized the 2011 MTV Movie Awards were on. A pleasant surprise, I thought to myself; I’d been unaware of the broadcast since admittedly there’s no real reason for me to watch MTV these days. Like many of you, I grew up enjoying the MTV Movie Awards — they were always a tremendous amount of fun, even if they held little to no water as an actual accolade for the award recipients’ acting accomplishments. Then something strange happened, as I lay in bed watching host Jason Sudekis roll through his monologue and the first few presenters and winners take the podium: it all seemed so ridiculous to me. These awards were never based on any cinematic merit (clearly, it’s all to promote movies, that’s no surprise), but over the years there have been some fun reasons to watch: solid, funny hosts like Aziz Ansari or Sarah Silverman, and some inspired setpieces, like giving a Lifetime Achievement Award to Chewbacca. It was, at least, a decent way to kill an hour or two. But it was different this time. The jokes seemed so dumbed down, the we’re-so-cool-but-we’re-having-a-good-timeness of the winners looked so posed. When Twilight’s Robert Pattinson let fly with an f-bomb on the live telecast, I barely flinched as the young audience gasped and applauded. I could see clearly now; the MTV Movie Awards, which had once seemed so imaginative and creative, now offered nothing. I had officially outgrown them.

Truth be told, I should have probably outgrown this awards show years ago, but this was the first moment I came to the greater realization that certain pop cultural things, once loved though they may be, have to be let go. Just because something is perpetual doesn’t mean it will always be perpetual to you. This notion is an increasingly blurred line for a generation currently in it’s late twenties and early thirties — the “retro” conceit has kept everything we once loved somewhat still in the limelight, so instead of actually casting off and outgrowing many beloved icons of our youths, we’re still able to cling to them as if we’re “collectors,” throwback curators of our own personal museums of pop culture. What, you’re a grown man with a collection of He-Man cartoons on Blu-Ray? Hey, it’s forgiveable, you used to love that. “Retro” has become somewhat of a free pass for us to hang onto our innocence. But the truth is that there are simply some things, unavoidably, which slowly begin to trickle off our lists of interests.

We all go through phases. Some stick with us. For instance, the David Bowie phase that everyone should go through in their lives (and if you haven’t had yours yet, get on it immediately) remains a constant. You’ll likely keep listening to Bowie. Other phases, like reggae or ska (for me at least) tend to run their natural, cultural courses and filter out of one’s system. Make no mistake: every phase one goes through lends him or her to a greater understanding of our culture as a whole, and these phases are integral to learning, understanding and appreciating music, film or other artistic mediums — if nothing more than to spot where new trends are derived from older ones. But not all of these phases are lifelong. At the risk of exposing myself, I’ve made peace with the following changes happening to me in my thirties:

Grown out of: Punk — Don’t get me wrong, my favorite band of all time has always been and will remain the mighty Ramones, and I still follow some of my old standbys like Dropkick Murphys, but by and large the genre doesn’t hold the same sway it once had for me. I’ve grown to realize that newer punk isn’t marketed to me, and that I don’t feel the need for rebellion that I did fifteen years ago. It’s fine music, some of it, but punk just doesn’t speak to me the way it once did. I don’t need to fight the man anymore; I’ve grown older and I’m happy with what life has become. While the greats (Iggy and the Stooges, New York Dolls, The Misfits) will always be the greats, the subconscious need to stop something from happening was always a huge undercurrent of punk music. One realizes at a certain point that things happening isn’t all that terrible. When that sentiment creeped into my psyche, I didn’t seem to need punk as much as I once did.

Yes, I love this man.

Grown Into: Jazz — And I’m not just talking about “hip, young-people” jazz like Medeski Martin & Wood. Dave Brubek’s Take Five has been in my CD collection since I was nineteen, but I’ve never heard Brubek like I do now. The album is an absolute masterpiece.For the first time in my life, I can actually somewhat hold a conversation about the current jazz billboard charts, and that’s a little weird for me. When I was a kid, jazz couldn’t have been less interesting when I heard adults listening to it; but a curious switch seemed to flip a couple of years ago wherein I began to understand the greatness of what I was listening to, and now I can’t get enough. I’m even sort of okay with — dare I say it — smooth jazz. For the love of God, I now own a Grover Washington Jr. album (for the unitiated, Washington’s hepcat tones were used as bumps on The Cosby Show when static shots of the Huxtable’s Brooklyn brownstone were shown). Jazz has become a new way of exploring creativity to which I’d never paid enough attention, an avenue I for some reason resisted for quite some time. Maybe I was just too young to really get it. Now, after having scoured the pantheon of a dozen other different genres of music, I do.

Grow(ing) Out Of: Video Games — There was a time when a fourteen year-old me would have seen his mind pop at a trailer like the current one for Modern Warfare 3, and that fourteen year-old, today, would stand outside GameStop to be among the first to start blowing commies away. For some reason, I don’t need to blow commies away like I used to. I still play video games, but only casually now, when it’s late and I need to unwind and take my mind off things. Even in my early twenties, I can recall wanting to rush home after my stupid job to beat the next mission of Vice City, but today it takes me months to get through one game because I only play in forty minute increments once or twice a week. Video games are becoming more amazing, to be sure, but other things seem to take the place of that old pastime.

Growing Into: TV Shows About Food –– True, it’s more en vogue than ever on our programming dials these days, but as a mid-twenties serial drinker I’d have never thought to record, much less spend a second watching, a show about cooking. Why would I? I was going to run out to Taco Bell or order a pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cooking was for squares, baby. But now, when I flip through the guide and see Grilling Secrets Revealed with Bobby Flay, I simply have to watch. Because I’m probably going to be grilling this weekend, and maybe Bobby Flay has some tips for me. It’s highly uncool, I’m well aware. But an interest in cooking leads to an interest in cooking shows. That’s just how it is. I ain’t apologizing. I’ll grill you the best goddamn barbecued chicken you’ve ever eaten. 

It’s funny how we grow out of things we once loved so vehemently and how other new cultural conventions tend to replace them. But that’s the circle of pop culture life, I suppose. How about you guys? What are things you once loved but now just passingly fancy, and what are your newer cultural interests as you grow older? I hope you’ll share some below.

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8 Comments
  1. June 7, 2011 5:25 pm

    I heard Christian Lander say in a radio interview that Food was the new Indie Rock, especially for people who came into their own in the 90s.

    • June 7, 2011 6:16 pm

      Knowing Lander, he probably meant that with some snark, but I think that makes a lot of sense. As a kid in the early nineties in a rural town, exploring indie rock was for me like unlocking a chest to discover what else was out there. Not being a foodie by nature, discovering new tastes and foods is a very similar feeling. Never thought of it that way.

      • June 7, 2011 6:19 pm

        I just hope lemon spinach couscous doesn’t turn out to be my Catherine Wheel.

  2. T. Stump permalink
    June 7, 2011 7:28 pm

    Damnit, Chris. It’s like you are reading from my TelePrompTer. If I could create a “Video Games vs Cooking Shows” graph, a la “Google trends”, it would be a perfect reflection of opposites that start dichotomously, converge in 2006, then reverse themselves.

    That may be the exact way to measure one’s moment when they officially become (gulp), an…adult? NOOOO!!!

    Although, a Top Chef game on Wii is in development, you better believe it. I can already picture Digital Anthony Bourdain, ready to drop a Dead Boys lyric into his criticism of that crappy Broccolini you were forced to serve during “Restaurant Wars”.

  3. Walter permalink
    June 10, 2011 12:32 pm

    15 years ago me would absolutely kick my ass for the things I do now. I would never have sniffed cooking shows, real estate shows, baby shows, makeover shows (home or person variety) or any show involving hacks singing lame country or pop songs to be the next American Idol (all rights reserved) or any show involving women or men I despise handing out roses after lame dates involving helicopters, dance offs or dinners on floatation devices in ridiculous locations. Yet now, my life seems consumed by these sorts of things. Go figure.

  4. Lloyd permalink
    June 10, 2011 1:22 pm

    I can’t tell–is that a pro- or an anti-Catherine Wheel comment, CM? If it’s the latter, I gotta say there are a crap-ton of bands that better illustrate the “lame 90s alterna-hacks” category–Eve 6, Third Eye Blind, Marcy Playground, and about 50 others. I’ve heard CW lumped in with those shit-peddlers before, but it’s always because of “Waydown” and Happy Days, the CW song and album that got the most Alternative Nation airplay and led them to be considered “one-hit wonders” by casual listeners who never bothered to learn more. But CW actually put out four other albums besides Happy Days, three of which–Ferment, Chrome, and Adam & Eve–are stone cold timeless classics that still make my jaw drop and bring tears to my eyes 15-20 years after I first heard them.

    Sorry if I’m preaching to the choir, and sorry for probably coming off as that “your opinion is wrong” guy, but CW is one of a very small number of bands for whom I feel that degree of protectiveness. They should be f*cking legends, and it still burns me a little that they’re not widely known as absolute titans of the 90s alt-rock era.

    • June 10, 2011 4:02 pm

      Wow. Err, nope. I was only using them as an illustration of a band I adored back in the “120 Minutes” days, but have sadly fallen away from. I wasn’t firing on them whatsoever.

  5. Lloyd permalink
    June 11, 2011 1:21 am

    Sorry man. Just read your words the wrong way. I’ve “grown out of” reading comprehension, I s’pose.

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