Comedian Flip Wilson did a routine about keeping up with the latest news that included "The Church of What's Happening Now." Trend-spotting in the news media wasn't just a fad in the Sixties, it was an obsession.
George Carlin skewered the Sixties penchant for fast moves
in the pop culture arena when he suggested that a song could be "last week's
pick-hit of the week, this week number one, and next week's "golden oldies'
Was the band The Who trying to make a confession when they titled an album "The Who Sells Out" or were they just making a feeble attempt to be ironical?
In the Sixties, bands would get a career boost by appearing
on the Ed Sullivan TV show. TV talk
shows were not reluctant to feature rising talent. Saunders includes (pages 227 to 230) a
partial transcript of the Fugs 1967 appearance on the David Susskind TV show.
In the early seventies, when a young unknown singer, named Bruce Springsteen, with a hard working publicity agent, wound up on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, the two rival magazines agreed to make sure that wouldn't happen again.
When the "Sounds of Our Lives" radio format featured music
from the big band era, rock fans might clandestinely listen to Glenn Miller but
the roster of ads featuring denture adhesives, Depends, and cures for denture
breath, would cause a young listener to recoil in horror exclaiming: "Hell's Bells, forty years from now will we
become old farts who wax nostalgic listening to stations that only feature
music from the British Invasion?" Do Vietnam
era veterans still utter the phrase "Roger that!"?
These days free publicity is too precious a commodity to be wasted on unknowns.
In the era of shrinking news staffs, journalism relies more
and more on prepackaged material known as HO's (hand outs). Why pay a reporter when you can run a
professionally done segment provided free from a large corporation (such as a
pharmaceutical company?)? We have
recently learned that the United States
are the only two countries that permit TV ads for medicines.
News from the underground provided fertile ground for the growth of alternative newspapers. The Village Voice helped prepare the way for The L. A. Free Press, the Berkley Barb, and Al Goldstein's Screw. These days the San Francisco area sustains three weekly newspapers, the Guardian, San Francisco Weekly, and the East Bay Express.
Unfortunately the underground press no longer functions as a
scout for the troops in the mainstream media.
Does Fox Views do trend spotting stories other than noting the rising
stars in the Republican Party? Wouldn't
it be a hoot if this column inspires the establishing of a late night talk show
on Fox? Would Disco Tex and the
Sexoletts have a snowball's chance in hell of being invited on that show? Are stars from the underground this era's
missing media darlings?
Who is on the roster of the new angry young men? What new band owns the rights to wear the enfant terrible label? Can you name a contemporary poet, let alone say who is today's most outspoken poet/critic of the military adventure in Afghanistan? Is there any novelist working today who isn't a corporate approved source of entertainment rather than a rogue who provides the voice of conscience for the USA?
Does the web site that is the leading source of links to contemporary
Liberal Lite voices feature any content that can be considered "edgy"? What ever happened to that word that was
ubiquitous when the Internets was in the "new fad" phase?
Supposedly the Internets was going to give alternate voices a chance to get their messages out to the world, but ultimately many new voices and trends may be getting lost in a digital information dump.
Do Tweets provide the basis for trend spotting stories? Really?
If a thousand people tweet their approval of some new music, do the
friends of those thousand people run out and listen to the recommended music or
are the tweets of approval lost among thousands of other tweets about thousands
of other pop culture items? If a Tweet
is posted on the Internets and no one reads it, will it make a noise? If a Tweeter touts a hundred new items this
week, will a music recommendation carry any clout or will it get lost in the
digital information dump? Do Tweeters
have fans who will follow up on all of this week's one hundred recommendations?
Which will gather more media attention: The Pope's unsuccessful attempt to post his first Tweet, or a blog, called Media Darlings, which is being done by a fellow from New Zealand named Rory MacKinnon. His blog is aimed at journalists and journalism students and it recounts his adventures in Great Britain.
Fame has become America's answer to British
Royalty. Yes, occasionally some brash
young upstart can break into the ranks of the usual suspects, but for the most
part hasn't fame in the USA
become a matter of "carrying on a family tradition"?