I have just learned on the digital superhighway that there is a South Korean boyband called BTS (it probably stands for Broody Tellible Songs) and they’ve been “going” for six years. I don’t like to say on a family show like this where I’d like them to go, but tonight I watched and listened as they sang their smash hit ‘Idol’ (pronounced Eyeyah-Dorrrr), and I think I may need some counselling as a result of it. In fact, it may take a serious course of ECT to erase BTS completely from my already fragile mind. BTS are, dear reader, a cast-iron case for Kim Jong Un being allowed to invade South Korea and do away with all free expression of the performing arts.
There are seven of them, and so far I’ve yet to find any two with the same colour of hair. On stage, they resemble a fusion of black hiphop dancers and tonsorial dolly-mixtures trying to navigate their way through a minefield of dayglo dry-ice eruptions. In truth, the effect is more confusion than fusion: mainly, I was confused as to whether I should carry on trying to connect with mass culture, or simply kill myself.
No doubt my parents had the same feelings when they first saw the Rolling Stones in 1964. Nevertheless, being old fashioned I cannot resist the temptation to point out that the Strolling Bones did have enormous songwriting talent and could actually play musical instruments. Mum and Dad of course saw the Stones as a real and present threat to Western values, and they were probably correct. I see BTS more as a threat to human creativity greater than anything Artificial Intelligence could possibly offer.
This isn’t entirely the curmudgeonly wittering of an old git in his dotage….although I do accept that some of those stereotypical observations ought perhaps to be factored in. Rather, I see the preceding paragraphs as making a serious point: that BTS is not just a regrettable phenomenon, it is a copy of a copy of a nothingness that began with the Spice Girls and Take That some thirty years ago. Regardless of what one might think of contemporary culture, it is adding nothing to it. There is no invention involved: it is formulaic fakery. Disturbingly, however, these manufactured morons hold millions of Asian kids in thrall.
What has happened to invention? In music, we haven’t had anything qualitatively fresh since modern jazz and rock n roll. The theatre areas of our capital cities are littered with little beyond revivals and crossovers. Movies consist of remakes, special effect violence, cops, armies, fantasy and animation. Soccer looks more like slow-motion defensive pinball every time I watch it.
We are all, it seems, averse to originality. Indeed, the commissioners of the world are more like commissionaires in 2019.
I lay the blame for this triumph of straight line process masquerading as progress firmly on two doorsteps.
The first belongs to the 1964 founders of The Conformist Academy for the Comprehensively Political Education of the Masses, otherwise known as the largely privately educated élite of the Wilson Labour Party.
The second is the 1979 established City of London Centre of Face-Washing Monetary Bollocks, also commonly referred to as the almost entirely barbarian Thatcher Conservative Party.
Between them, they produced the following Ten Cultural Commandments of the postwar age.
Thou shalt kill but not be found out
Thou shalt covet and copy the creativity of thy neighour
Thou shalt admire, even unto their most heinous faults, recessive cultures beyond thine own
Thou shalt decry the achievements of all cultures with more shekels than thyself
Thou shalt put bums on seats
Thou shalt describe any shit thy teacher puts forward as sugar
Thou shalt learn to love being skint, and yet be prepared to admire those of the counting houses that rendered thou skint
Thou shalt tell contestants that they need more work on the vocals, rather than advise them to go home and learn some unrelated but more entertaining skills such as midwifery
Thou shalt insist that mediocrity is a rare talent
Thou shalt be terminally terrified of risk.