An article I wrote for the feed
If you have an invested interest in talent, or some sense of nostalgia for the “good old days” you might argue that our artists are no match for the classics of the 50s and 60s at all and you’d probably be correct in saying so. Despite the possible bias, however, the icons we have surrounding us today are popular. It is undeniable. From a popularity perspective we might argue that Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and KE$HA are of the same calibre as Elvis, Madonna or ABBA. The latter three were very popular in their times while the former three are just as popular with their audiences now in much the same way.
But there is a difference: Once upon a time, there used to be a thing called “sophistication”, that is, to be an artist; you had to be presentable, and professional. I find this is a quality which many of today’s popular artists lack. Many of them are not great role models for teenagers and young adults and many of these artists don’t even realise the image which they are promoting. Here is a sample of a popular party song ‘Last Friday Night’ by none other than queen of teenage drama – Katy Perry:
Pictures of last night
Ended up online
It’s a blacked out blur
But I’m pretty sure it ruled.
So, if we are to analyse what Katy Perry is telling us, is that when we can’t remember what happened the night before, we can assume that it was an enjoyable evening of sorts? Katy goes on to sing:
This Friday night,
Do it all again.
Again analysing, it would seem blacking out and suffering public humiliation online once wasn’t enough for Ms Perry. She’s looking forward to erasing another day’s memory from her brain. Not only that, but she’s advocating that it is enjoyable for all of her listeners to do the same. What message is this sending to her target audience of young adults and teenagers? That we should waste our lives by drinking and partying every weekend?
Artists such as these are disgraceful role models for young men and women. What ever happened to talent? Or is this the future of the music industry – advocating for our lives to be wasted on meaningless nights out drinking and taking drugs?
Shouldn’t we be concerned for our future generations? Shouldn’t we be concerned that, with the mass popularity of figures such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and KE$HA that our teenagers just might make nothing of themselves as they spend their money partying from weekend to weekend? And maybe we should be concerned for the future of the music industry. Is it going to continue to churn out young pop artists until they’ve passed their expiry date? Or will it pick up its game, be professional, and promote talent once more?
Music used to be a thing of culture. Perhaps it still is. But what is our culture now? Drunken partying?
I thought Luke was beginning to lie. But he had been lying ever since I had known him. And as much as I knew he had a talent for telling elaborate stories, I felt sad for him. And I wanted to believe that Luke and I could be friends. But I couldn’t tell stories the way Luke did. I couldn’t cover up the flaws and potholes in a tale the way he did with stories on top of stories. And for the most incredible tales he would tell, I, nor anyone, could find witnesses to bear testimony to his claims.
He was captured once in a jungle overseas, by natives. He had to chew his way through ropes they had tied him with before he could even escape on foot. He ran and ran until he had lost complete sight of the people who had captured him.
“Where was your Dad? You went with your Dad, didn’t you?”
“Yeah but he was back at the hotel, man!”
“So you never told him where you had been?”
“Nah, Dad was fuckin’ pissed drunk man, he had no idea.”
“So if I asked him, he’d have no recollection of that day?”
“Nah, he doesn’t remember anything!”
In short, Luke was full of shit. The problem, however, was that he had no shame. He believed every word he spoke, as if he were in love with himself. And for a person such as myself, who likes to give everyone equal credibility, I found it difficult to shut him down. But sometimes, when irritation overcame me, I would say to him, “Are you lying?” and he would look visibly upset. I started to doubt myself.
I believed that everyone deserved to be heard. I did not see what kind or social advantage there could possibly be for lying. About anything. In a world where testimony cannot always be given, and how many times we may find ourselves in situations where our words are matched only by the words of someone else, a truth-teller can give a liar an unfair opportunity to be taken seriously. I didn’t believe that telling untruths could be beneficial to anyone, if we all decided to tell untruths. So, there I was, with one of my best friends begging me to believe his tales. Why shouldn’t I? Just because his tales were hard to believe, did that mean they weren’t true?
“I don’t get it! Why, why, why do you have to make up shit all the fucking time?”
“I’m not makin’ up shit, bro!”
“Yes, you are… And don’t ‘bro’ me!”
“Aren’t I your bro?”
“No, you’re my friend. And regardless, bro’s and friends don’t lie about stupid crap!”
“It’s no stupid crap! You wanna call her? I’ll get her on the phone now.”
“No, I don’t want to talk to your wife. You do know you’re seventeen, right?”
His lies weren’t always as elaborate as getting married, or being captured in a jungle. Once, he told me he had a great collection of swords at his house, which I never saw on display on any of my visits. Another time he told me about his grandfather’s habit of sitting outside the front of the house with a shotgun, keeping watch. I met his grandfather. He’s a sweet old man. And he always sat at the back of the house, not at the front. I didn’t understand the lies. And so, I didn’t understand our friendship. And soon, lies and truths…were both the same.
“I’m not living in Brunswick anymore. My dad moved house.”
“I’m sure he did.”
“He did, man!”
“I know, I said, ‘I’m sure he did’.”
“Why do you say it like that for?”
“Because I don’t know you anymore. I don’t know what’s what. I’m sure you are moving house. But what’s it to me?”
“We have a massive pool now. You gotta come over.”
“Where is it?”
Luke lived with his Dad and his grandparents. His mother and father divorced when he was very young. I don’t know how young, but Luke never spoke of his parents being together. They were eighteen when Luke was born. Eighteen. I would like to say that his parents’ situation was the reason Luke felt compelled to fabricate every instance of his life for others. But as much as I’m sure Luke had attention problems, to claim such reasons for his behaviour would be not in my area of expertise. Maybe I should have forgiven him.
Luke’s mother lived in Seymour. I only met her once, when she dropped off Luke’s younger brothers at his Dad’s house. Luke always said she was a bit of every nationality. And he meant every nationality. In a way, I felt that my friend wanted to identify somehow with his mother, but was unable to. I thought he knew almost nothing about her. She ran a pub in the country with her sister. Luke hardly ever went to see her. Sometimes his two younger brothers would be with her, and other times his brothers were in Melbourne. I never knew when they left and when they came back. I’m not even sure Luke did.
The more time Luke and I spent together, the less he spoke of his other friends. Sometimes Luke would tell me about the crazy things they would do, like riding wheelie bins down a hill, or doing burn outs on his motor bike. Whether these things really happened, I know not, because I never spoke to those boys. Ever.
“Dude, how come I can never get through to you on your phone?!” I said to Luke one day.
“I got a new number, bro.”
“Well, thanks for telling me.”
“Nah, this is serious, man. I’ll give you my number, but don’t give it to anyone!”
“Why? What the hell’s going on?”
“My dad got me this number last night. Don’t give it to anyone!”
“Okay, okay. Who am I gonna give it to anyway?”
“Those other fuckin’ kids. You’re the only one who has it. Don’t give it to ‘em.”
“Okay! Not that they’re gonna ask me anyway.”
They did ask me for it – Luke’s other friends. They thought that I was his cousin. That’s what Luke had told them. I told them I had trouble getting through to him too. They didn’t bother me about it more than once. It was only years later that I realised that Luke had told them never to hurt me or do anything to me. Luke had a black-belt in three different martial arts. At least that’s what they believed. And it’s what I believed too, to an extent.
I didn’t know why Luke suddenly wanted nothing to do with his former friends, until he told me about a fight they were involved in over the weekend. His other friends fled, abandoning him to the mercy of a gang or rival teenagers. It was when Luke told me about his narrow escape that I initiated him into my own circle of friends.
I despised Luke for being an idiot. I also despised him for being a compulsive liar. But I respected him still to keep his mobile number from his old friends. After all the times we had spent together, and the knowledge I had of his family situation, I couldn’t understand why he felt the need to project such a vivid picture of himself for me. He was a different person for-himself than he was for-others. Luke was living in what Jean-Paul Sartre would have called “bad faith”. Why Luke felt it necessary to project a different image of himself for others than he did for himself, I never discovered. Many times I caught Luke slipping between his foil and his real self. How I define ‘real’ may be an ill-attempt to define some undefinable, but I saw the real Luke as being someone who was very confused and self-loathing. I believed this was his ‘real’ self because it was the person I saw when he opened up to me. After showing me a song he wrote one day, he confessed how suicidal he had been once. That was not the Luke I saw projected at school. It was closer to the Luke I knew, but still it was different even from the façade I received. I resented him for not being honest with me all the time, but I felt deeply hurt and sorry for him. Somewhere inside was a kid who wanted to have fun. More often than not, Luke tried to escape his inner torments by letting that child run free. But that child, whoever it was, always returned to its stony cage.
The problem with my account is that we as individuals can never truly know another person. How can I say that Luke wasn’t always the same person, when Luke may have been a number of different people? Who am I to say what was a lie? Who was I to make a judgement based on what I believed to be inauthentic? And what is inauthenticity, anyway?
“Matt?” he said to me one day. It was a day I thought he would be in my life forever. It was a day I suspected to be merely another in a continuous line of experiences to come. A day that I thought was only another step closer to eternity.
“Today is my last day here.”
I saw these guys perform the other night for the first time. I thought they were an amazing example new talent. You should check them out :)
if you can wait til i get home
then i swear to you that we can make this last
if you can wait til i get home
then i swear come tomorrow this will all be in our past