This is part of a weekly series called “Pop Opinions” where The Lantern offers its take on the week’s pop culture news.
Pete Seeger is dead at 94.
The American Folk Music Revival was something special in pop music.
Ironically, even the beatniks got on board with it. Amid the smoky rooms of Greenwich Village nightclubs, a second Lost Generation — despite their smart black turtlenecks and Ray-Bans — were able to latch onto something uncharacteristically genuine and heartfelt.
Seeger was a beacon of everything that was good about that movement. He wrote honest yet hopeful songs that stood in stark contrast to the disillusioned hedonism of all the Kerouacs of his generation.
He put a microscope on the United States’ shortcomings in a way that was scathing, and yet his warmth and decency made it palpable. Only a man so likeable could make communist sympathy seem wholesome during the middle of the Red Scare.
If Martin Luther King Jr. provided the rulebook for the Civil Rights Movement, Seeger made the soundtrack. Sometimes, if I need a morale boost, I’ll throw on my old, scratchy Seeger LP and listen to him lead Carnegie Hall in “We Shall Overcome.” He prefaces the rendition with a simple message: “If you’d like to get out of a pessimistic mood yourself … go help those people down in Birmingham, Mississippi or Alabama. All kinds of jobs that need to be done — it takes hands and hearts and heads to do it. It takes human beings to do it, and then we’ll see this song come true.” The message of people like Seeger resonated and many of the movement’s goals came to fruition the next year when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
We can use as many Pete Seegers as we can get.
With that, let’s take aim to make fun of other famous people, since having access to a computer allows us to.
Justin Bieber gets a DUI
Regular readers of this column (and others who live vicariously through celebrities) surely had their celebrity bloodlust satisfied last week when Justin Bieber, a Universal Music Group product, was arrested for a DUI, drag racing and resisting arrest.
In my eyes, he became immediately more likeable with the arrest.
Universal Music Group relies on this man to make teenage girls’ panties drop, an exploitation that brings them millions of dollars. The more Bieber transforms from “edgy” to “ne’er-do-well,” the less dollars the parents of his teenage fans will be willing to drop on concert tickets. But maybe I think too highly of their parents, considering swarms of screaming fans still turned out to greet him in Toronto Wednesday night, where he arrived to face December assault charges. I don’t know what it will take, but I fully support any activity this young man gets himself into that hurts the return-on-investment by Universal Music Group. Just don’t do anything too dangerous. And maybe don’t hit limo drivers anymore.
Tarantino axes movie
So director Quentin Tarantino had written a screenplay called “The Hateful Eight.” But then someone leaked it onto the Internet, and Tarantino wasn’t so happy.
Tarantino told deadline.com he was depressed, though he still has mustered the energy to put together a lawsuit against Gawker Media, which initially leaked the script. This effectively ruined the film in his eyes, and he immediately scrapped the project.
I’m surprised, both because people don’t read anymore and because no one ever read screenplays to begin with.
But he’s a big Hollywood insider, so I’ll take his word that a film’s potential dies when the audience is aware of the plot points. In that spirit, I suggest film studios cease distribution on the following types of movies:
– Movies from The Black List, Hollywood’s annual survey of beloved but yet-to-be-produced screenplays
– Book adaptations
– True stories
– Movies with trailers
– Movies with premieres
– Romantic comedies
This was the thing that happened where they give out awards to musicians who made a lot of money this year. Audiences invested their emotions while watching this thing and probably tweeted about something Lady Gaga did or something.
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