The theory goes something like this …
At whatever age you become famous, that’s the age at which you stop growing emotionally and intellectually. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it sure would explain a lot of people, from Michael Jackson to Elvis. It’s one of the reasons I’m so adamantly against the creation of child stars. So many of them have to re-learn how to live in society once the cute wears off and they realize they don’t want to spend their lives on a TV or movie set. Anyway, I digress …
Whenever I watch Paul McCartney in an interview, I always think to myself, “He’s really only 22 …inside. That’s when he became famous.” And when you start looking at the world through that lens, a lot of things start to make sense. Don’t get me wrong …I love Sir Paul and his body of work. But he does still kind of embody the spirit of a 22-year-old …and that may be our gain as music consumers. You don’t want a 50-year-old man writing silly love songs …you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
This theory of stunted development, always leads me to more questions about where we stop understanding things; where we stop evolving. All of us know that one guy who still has a ponytail or a mullet. He’s a walking memorial to reaching your peak hair potential in 1989, and just saying, “I’ll never do better than this.” He looks in the mirror EVERYDAY and still says, “Yep. This works.” Or we know the girl who got her hair and makeup just right, around 1998, achieving the perfect “Rachael.” And while Jennifer Anniston hasn’t rocked a “Rachael” in almost twenty years, our friend is still flat-ironing her way to 90s greatness …in 2018.
The passing of time can be brutal to humans because we have this special type of hubris that allows us to think the world started turning on the day we were born. Given this special brand of narcissism, we often fail to realize there are children coming up right behind us who have no idea about our experiences or points of view. I think about this concept often …almost to the point of obsession.
In my show, I do a mash-up type bit about Elton John records and old gospel songs. It’s a true story – a funny story – and it usually works for most audiences. But I did it once for an audience of teenagers and they had no reference point for the basic premise. They didn’t know the songs and they didn’t really have a concept of having to be in church if they didn’t want to be. That’s an attitude from MY generation …not theirs. The whole thing fell flat because …well …quite frankly …they weren’t born when all the stuff I was talking about was happening. It’s all ubiquitous to me. But they’re not me.
It honestly doesn’t take that long for large swaths of a population to change their attitudes about things. When he was a kid, one of my father’s best friends was black. This was during southern segregation and my father often recounts how he an his friend would dare each other to run inside the other’s designated restroom. At ten-years-old, after breaking the law over and over, they both realized (upon comparing notes) that all the restrooms were exactly the same. And segregating them made absolutely no sense to the boys. My father says that he was certain his generation would get rid of segregation because they understood the stupidity of it.
If you tried to reinstitute racially segregated bathrooms right now, literally everyone on the planet would look at you weird. We don’t do that anymore. And we haven’t in almost sixty years. My generation wasn’t raised with it, so I can’t even fathom the idea of it. But there are still people of a certain age who think that might actually be a thing, one day. Those people are pretty much rocking idea mullets …they just don’t know it.
Some (maybe more than some) people view life through an old prism of another time to inform their political beliefs. Barbara Streisand sounded like one of those people, this past week, in her recent comment about women who vote how their husbands want them to vote, etc, etc. When I first read it I thought it was a joke or a fake news meme. Then I did some research and found that it was a true statement. And the first thing I thought was, “idea mullet” or “concept Rachael.”
Literally ZERO people, in 2018, believe that men are dictating how their wives vote. Society just doesn’t work like that anymore. Maybe it does in some weird commune somewhere, or in a select household here or there, or in an Islamic country. But by and large, men don’t wake up and expect the “little woman” to have breakfast on the table. They don’t sit in their suit and tie and read the paper, then splash Burma Shave on their face before climbing into the 1958 Studebaker and dashing off to their Mad Men job, where they drink bourbon all day and call women “doll” and “angel face,” demanding coffee and donuts for the next meeting with other men who came from the same morning routine.
It doesn’t work like that anymore. That’s a caricature …a stereotype …a punch line. It’s fodder for period piece movies and kitschy commercials. Does that mean there’s not sexism in the world? Of course not. Does it mean misogyny is over? Nope. But the notion of wives being ideologically subordinate to their husbands, without their own concerns and issues and political autonomy, is just a notion from another time. The world has moved on.
As a history buff, I know all too well that history can repeat itself in horrible ways. But sometimes, we see patterns of the past …because we’re FROM the past …and we need a new haircut.