“For the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made—thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization only a fooling heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so. But to me the future is still black and blank—is a vast ignorance, lit at a few casual places by the memory of his story. And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers—shriveled now, and brown and flat and brittle—to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.”
-last paragraph of The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Every morning we dance to something and on the morning of the inauguration, my 21-month old daughter and I danced to the 1980’s pop song Everybody Wants to Rule the World. On our walk to school, a car that parked itself on our street had something similar in mind, blasting Michael Jackson’s 80’s pop hit Thriller (not songs from the album. The actual song Thriller).
Both of these felt so right for the moment that it made me think there was more to 1980’s pop music than we may have all realized. As if the villains that globally haunted the 80’s rose up bigger and stronger like an 80’s horror film and can only be defeated by 80’s pop music – pretty much the plot of every great 80’s music video.
In the 80’s I built a time machine in my closet. A large cardboard box I could walk inside, covered with all the tinfoil in the house. and spotted like a cow with roundish amorphous swathes of colored paper. It took me places.
When MTV first came on the air in 1981, it refused to show videos by black artists, like Michael Jackson and Prince.
David Bowie who had a few videos in rotation directly asks a representative of MTV (Mark Goodman) in an interview in 1983 about this policy- TWO YEARS AFTER MTV HAS BEEN ON THE AIR:
“It occurred to me having watched MTV over the last few months that it’s a solid enterprise … It’s got a lot going for it. I’m just floored by the fact that there’s so few black artists featured on it. Why is that? … There seem to be a lot of black artists making very good videos that I’m surprised aren’t being used on MTV … “
This changed finally when Michael Jackson’s manager threatened MTV by saying he would pull all his artists (white artists) off the network unless they started to show Michael Jackson’s videos.
And then those videos went on to make MTV a lot of money.
This all makes me think of San Junipero (Black Mirror, Season 3, episode 4) – a virtual reality love story set in the 80’s. Hair, wardrobe, make-up, lighting & a wet-street ambiance all have the pinkish glow of an early MTV video — & all to the 80’s soundtrack (a couple of songs I use below). San Junipero, allows its in-the-future, end-of-life characters to go back to a live a fantasy version of a 1980’s America, as an eternally youthful happily wed interracial lesbian couple.
With the current state of fake news and the technology of virtual reality catching up with our desire to be lost, the internet as we see it now is just a peek into how gone we will get ourselves.
Anyway see you somewhere wholly lost in the holy hole-y pockets of time! (after a long pause, I am back to writing).
*** Another playlist to check out: from Lin Manuel Miranda