By now, I have the horrible feeling that, at 42, I am the oldest Pif staffer. While that usually wouldn’t make a whit of difference in terms of being a columnist, one’s age does call into scrutiny one’s cultural upbringing. Aesthetically, you are what you grok, and nothing speaks so loudly about one’s cultural palette as one’s taste in music. While I might wring my hands about some current pop music (people think Everclear or Third Eye Blind are anything but awful??), I’m pretty amenable. Granted, I’ve long given up trying to sell people on the 20th century music I love (I listen to Schoenberg proudly, but alone); nonetheless, I enjoy a number of current acts (I love Radiohead, Bjork and Portishead).
But I do object to music’s current obsession with an ersatz retro-pop culture. In a mad dash to form its own pop culture from the past, the ’90s has breathlessly embraced and vomited back up the worst elements of the past, from the booze culture of the Sinatra Rat Pack, to the soporific ooze of Martin Denny and Les Baxter, to this century’s cultural nadir, Disco. But I don’t blame Gen X. It’s guys my age, drunk on nostalgia and even higher on consensus, who have plundered the past without looking at it very objectively. As a result, some of the true artifacts of their own generation have been overlooked. I offer here a short list of music-dominated films that did, in their day, constitute pop culture events that have gone without the fanfare boomers usually ascribe such things.
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