This past Friday the Washington Times ran a piece by Scott Galupo about how the world will never again see a superstar, or a “cult phenomenon,” like we saw in Michael Jackson. This, of course, is because of the internet, he argues.
Proof of the ravages of Internet-driven segmentation and piracy, major label-types say, is the lack of new icons around whom our culture can coalesce; music may be more profuse and recklessly available than ever — but, precisely for that reason, it will never again reach a “Thriller”-like critical mass.
Nothing new here, really. And he’s probably right. The twist, though, is that he’s happy about it.
Reflect for a moment on this pining for masscult idols: For whom was it good? Major record labels and Viacom-owned MTV? Unquestionably.
Music fans, not to mention superstars themselves? Not so much.
Elvis Presley degenerated into a bloated parody. John Lennon was murdered (and George Harrison, not incidentally, was very nearly so). Prince grew so embittered with major-label meddling that he temporarily forswore recording under his own proper (if truncated) name.
Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think I’d turn down the chance to witness the second coming of the Beatles because of the off chance that someone might someday shoot them. Or that they might have to change their name to a symbol.