Given the present kerfuffle over Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes anti-Trump philippic, this seems like the perfect time to … discuss an upcoming awards show. Namely, the Grammys. Specifically, a band receiving its first-ever Grammy nomination. Category? Best Rock Album. Band? Weezer.
Given conservatism’s pride taken in ignoring, save for mocking, most all things pop culture, many might be surprised Weezer is nominated for a Grammy. Or that it released an album last year eligible for a Grammy. Or that it still exists, given how it has been a while since anything by the band tore up the charts. It would benefit conservatism greatly if it would be more aware of such things so that it can intelligently engage the disaffected masses who do listen to new music. But that is a topic for another time; back to Weezer.
Weezer’s sophomore album Pinkerton, released in 1996, suffered the dreaded fate of being a critical modest success and commercial pretty much complete flop. Its opening track was doubtless jarring to listeners expecting more of the band’s debut album’s nerdy lyrical bent. Instead, it was a sardonic tongue in cheek humblebrag entitled “Tired of Sex” in which band leader and songwriter Rivers Cuomo lamented regularly – as in nightly – getting laid by different women when all he genuinely wanted was a real relationship. Given how Weezer had introduced itself as the house band for geeky guys who couldn’t score at Mustang Ranch with a wallet stuffed with hundreds, little wonder its fan base had a tough time relating to the tune no matter how unliterally it was presented.
The protagonist in Cuomo’s song is utterly tone deaf to his own farcical whining about how he wants something real while living the dream (that is actually a nightmare) of which so many others desperately dream. Regrettably, we see this same phenomena playing out in real life day after day. Where? Conservative new media.
Conservative new media (CNM for short) should be flying high and feeling really good about itself right now, what with ownership of the White House and both houses of Congress. The NeverTrumpets, their impotent rage over Ivanka’s dad presently filling out change of address forms redirecting all mail from Trump Tower to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue slowly morphing into smoldering butthurt, might disagree on the former. But social media noisemakers have no impact.
Which, actually, is the problem.
CNM talks a great game about being the antidote to CNN even as many of its individual members would cheerfully sacrifice body parts in order to appear on the network. The battle cries of “big tent,” “no litmus tests,” and “engage the culture” still occasionally reverberate through CNM’s echo chamber. But it rings hollow.
Look at the high flyers, the big names, the megatraffic sites. URLs change, but the song remains the same. The same tired faces, the same tired voices offering vapid expository masquerading as analysis, all aimed at keeping the faithful’s ears well tickled. There is no effort for outreach, no genuine attempt at promoting anyone or anything that would bring authentic culture change. Occasionally people bleat that they are trying to do so, yet they immediately wrap themselves inside the same cocoon. CNM has turned itself into Oakland minus the occasional downtown riot. There’s no there there.
Online political discussion can be edifying. It can also be used as an dopamine-drenched reality escape hatch. Who cares about the dishes piling up and the bills doing the same – I’m schooling some fool tool about the latest Supreme Court pick! Because, you know, doing so has so much influence on what’s going on in Washington. Oh, wait …
What is needed is messaging from the heart for the heart, mind, and soul. What is needed is promotion of genuine culture changers such as quality Christian rock artists addressing the world in the light of Christ’s love for all. What is needed is writers who embody the Scriptural admonishment to be in the world but not of it, being all things to all people so that some might be won to Christ. If this involves political discussion, so be it. But do not prohibit culture and Spirit. Christ, soul, rock and roll.
Rivers Cuomo was far more accurate then he likely envisioned when he sang “oh why can’t I be making love come true.” The world has enough politics. The world needs more Jesus. Let’s start talking Him up.