On the Soapbox

J'Mel JanLet’s make 2015 a better year.

By J’Mel Davidson


Hey, everyone! An old man’s talking!

Remember taking pictures?

You had a camera and it was special. Probably had its own case. Perhaps you were going on a trip or someone was having a birthday party. So you made your way to the Big B to buy a roll of Fuji. Every snap had to count because you only had 12 chances. When the party was over, you’d go home and pop the camera into the closet and most likely wouldn’t remember to develop those shots until the next time you needed the camera. So, you’d drop the roll of film off at The Phar Mor, wait your hour, and then return for your 12 great memories. Memories to share and save and cherish forever.

Cut to this morning. You took 56 pictures of your own face on your phone for no other reason than that you are an under-stimulated mess with the ability to. And these pictures aren’t for anyone. The public sees them because you post them for the world to see, but we don’t really care because they’re the same every day. And they “like” them, even though “liking” has lost any true meaning. At best, a “like” is an emotionless Pavlovian response to the slightest stimuli caused by lack of clear and present danger.

“There’s nothing else to do, so I’ll take a picture of my head.”

“Hey! Another picture of her head. I Like that.”

Now, I’m not saying there’s something wrong with you because you do this. There is, but I’m not saying it. I was sucked into the world briefly as well. I’ve caught myself standing in a group of friends and we’re all staring at our phones rather than talking to each other. I’ve caught myself at dinner with a friend, taking pictures of my food. Why? No one wants to look at food they can’t eat! I know I don’t. That’s why I shy away from gentleman’s clubs and classic car museums—window shopping is for suckers.

And when I actually want to see food, I can’t! I know you nerds love your Alton Brown but I blame him for ruining cooking shows. It started on his goofy show with all the fish-eyed lenses and puppets and puns. (Ugh. Puns.) Now, you can’t turn on the Food Network or Cooking Channel and just get a nice-looking young lady telling you how to make a fat-free cheese torte anymore. Now, everything’s a race or contest to make a cupcake as fast as you can, using only a length of twine and an M-80. Can you turn a box of crickets and Twix into a delicious appetizer while blindfolded and being yelled at by your disappointed third-grade P.E. coach?

And food trucks. Jesus, people get excited over the goofiest stuff. Hey, mothers, a truck that’s gonna be in a secret location that we’ll tell you about four minutes before lunch, and you find us and overpay for a taco! Look, I just want to eat. I’m not Scatman Crothers—I don’t need a scavenger hunt with my sandwich.

Kill the writer. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Put away any notions or ideas you have about the creator of a work and just identify the art for arts sake. Most of the time I’m able to do this. I enjoy some work that was created by terrible, terrible people.  But when the artist insists on being ubiquitous, it’s hard to kill him. You can’t watch a Quentin Tarrantino movie and kill the writer when he chooses to always show up in the art and is often the weakest part. You can watch—sigh—the Star Wars prequels when George Lucas continues to do all the junk he does, which I won’t go into because it’s still so angering, but you know what I’m talking about.

I love P.T. Anderson. Luckily, I’ve loved every thing he’s done. But if he did something I didn’t like, I’d probably get over it because P.T. Anderson doesn’t try to force himself into the public eye. He makes his work, he gives it to me, and we all smile.

I guess what I’m trying to say by all these mini rants is that 2014 was a rough year. Lots of personal and public tragedies added up. I’m glad 2015 is finally here and promises new opportunities for creativity and friendship, sandwiches and big, stupid summer movies.

So, start trying to be a human again. Just take one occasional picture of your dumb head, put down your damn phone, eat your food, talk to the person next to you, and kill those writers. No matter how stupid Midichlorians are.

One Response to “On the Soapbox”

  1. Keith Prusak says:

    Well said indeed. Lots o’ truth.

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