HEAD ON A SWIVEL with JP Sadek: TRAINING WHEELS

I became an old man early. When I was a teenager, I skipped out on hanging out with kids my age, the all-ages rock scene, and whatever else it was people did for fun. All my friends were older, listened to cooler music, and hung out where drinking was to be had. So it’s pretty safe to assume that, for the better part of the past 20 years, I’ve felt like an old man shaking my fist at the world. At first it was in defiance. These days, I’d be yelling at kids to get off my proverbial lawn… if any lived within five miles of me.

Now, like my parents, and probably theirs before them, I look at the current generation and wonder just what the fuck hope there really is for us as a species. But while every parent wishes for their children to achieve success, riches, happiness, what have you, that’s not what I want. Instead of just accepting what’s in front of us, I’d love it if anyone around my age and younger would wake the fuck up, realize how intrinsically miserable we are as a species except for the very rich, and try to change something.

Agents of social change are few and far between these days. All I’ve been seeing lately is the odd keyboard warrior, master of polemics, claiming racism or offense without really understanding (or attempting to understand) that changing individual behaviours won’t ever really affect the intrinsic unfairness that’s hardwired into our system.

Dr. Dre’s new album, Compton, dropped this week. I’m sure it’s packed with “phat beats,” and that the production values are unmatched. The reviews certainly seem to reflect that. But I’ll never know, because I’ve essentially purged that shit from my system. In fact, it makes me downright uncomfortable listening to a bunch of dudes, most of whom have a history of violent behaviour towards the opposite sex, circle jerk over the nasty shit they’ve done, who they’ve done it to, and who they plan on fucking over next. Sure, the entertainment business is cut-throat, which is perhaps why I’ve never a) succeeded in it; or b) cared much about it. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I could give a fuck about lyrics in music. Well, gangster rap is pretty much the reason why.

I never really got it. For every glorious shout of defiance, there were hundreds of “life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money.” I suppose I found it funny at first. I mean, who could really take Easy E that seriously? His lyrics were so over the top, delivered in an exaggerated nasal whine, who could possibly find that threatening? Look, I’m not advocating censorship, I don’t think parental advisory stickers are a good thing (filter the shit your kids listen to, show you give a damn), but at some point, someone’s got to have a conversation about why we’re totally OK with this, and why music can’t be fucking smart for a change. Sure, there are artists within the genre who are trying to make a point, but they sure as shit don’t rake in the numbers like misogyny and this weird interpretation of the American dream, which in itself is bullshit.

So maybe I’m expecting the training wheels to come off a little early; for people to look for hints of subjugation in their everyday life before levelling charges where they don’t necessarily do a hint of good. I sure as shit expect the conversation to be a wider one, but no one’s really engaging the political class on this level. In fact, political discourse has been completely confined to economics, which is a little odd for a government that touts itself as a champion of free market enterprise.

As much as we think we’d do better, though, the kids aren’t ready to take over. We’re lost, because there is no “we,” just a loose collection of individuals pretty much content to gloss over the fact that the world is a generally miserable place because we get three squares, some shitty TV, and a place to express our every meaningless thought. You’d think that having a global forum would create some pretty loud communal voices, but the exact opposite is happening. Everyone’s yelling at everyone else, without ever accomplishing anything.

So here I am, shaking my fist, because I don’t know what else to do, and because at least it’s quiet. – JP