Pretentious? That’s Not Pretentious. That’s Pretentious.

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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21 Responses

  1. Jason Kuznicki says:

    You sound like, erm, an aggrieved libertarian.Report

    • The years 1990-1994 were, shall we say, a traumatic experience in my life as a dedicated sports fan. That they were the high point of my life as a sports fan (well, with the exception of 1986) only makes things worse. That they were further tarnished by being pressed into the service of what has to be one of the all-time most pretentious and all-around awful pop songs makes it intolerable.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Can we at least agree that Michael Jackson has killed millions of people?Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

      Yes. Yes we can. Imagine how many lives would have been saved, and how our memories of him would be less conflicted, if he had successfully placed himself in a cryogenic freezer back in 1988.

      How long until some comedian updates Denis Leary’s old bit about Fat Elvis?Report

  3. gregiank says:

    Wait..huh…people actually watch the half time show at the Super Bowl??? Takes all kinds i guess.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to gregiank says:

      Dude. This was 1993. There was no internet, no smart phones, no Comedy Central, and not even Celebrity Deathmatch on MTV. There wasn’t even a pay-per-view halftime option.

      Worse, because it was scared of Jackson’s starpower, that year Fox chose not to run its alternative half-time show.Report

  4. North says:

    I’m no fan of Michaels but the crowd in the background seems happy enough. Were they piping joker gas in or was the sound dubbed in later?Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to North says:

      They pay people to surround the star and look happy. I think they must do this for every superbowl half-time show. That being said, Tom Petty the other year was great. As usual.Report

      • Yeah, that’s about the only Super Bowl half-time performance that I’ve ever found even remotely enjoyable. But that’s a low bar – those shows are always so forced, and they’d be a lot better off having the concerts remotely in front of people who are actually at the concert to see the concert.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

      You mean the people around the stage who weren’t forced to hold placards for 6 minutes? I assume they’re volunteers who actually wanted to be there and would have paid huge sums for the privilege because they were Jacko die-hards. Also, keep in mind that this was 1993; we were just a few years removed from Thriller and Bad, just a year removed from the influential Black or White video, and the first sexual abuse allegations were still a few months away (I had to check my memory on that, but this is indeed the case); his infamous Oprah interview was even still a few weeks away.

      One thing I just learned – it was also the first Super Bowl in history where the telecast’s audience actually increased at halftime.

      This was thus, literally, the absolute apex of his fame and popularity. Hell, I was even pretty excited for the performance – how often do you get to see the most important figure in music since the Beatles in the flesh singing Billie Jean? And yet the thing I remember most about being there was the guy behind me asking “anyone got a rifle?” That’s how pretentious the song was.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to North says:

      Watch a video of Kim Jong Il giving a speech.Report

  5. Rufus F. says:

    I think Sullivan generally gets pretty shoddy when he writes about what he finds pretentious. His ‘poseur alert’ is often frustrating because about 50% of the time he highlights a passage that really does sound like the person is being pretentious, and the other 50% reads like they’re being totally reasonable and Sullivan just can’t comprehend that people talk about some topic he’s not interested in with words that he doesn’t like to use.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Yeah, I hear ya. It’s one thing to complain about a pretentious sounding piece written for mass consumption, but it does seem like a lot of that stuff is written for a specific audience for whom the seemingly pretentious language actually isn’t.Report

  6. Rufus F. says:

    Speaking of Merle Haggard, “If We Make it Through December” is also on a lot of my Christmas CDs. Beautiful song.Report

    • John Henry in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I had the same thought when I saw ‘Earth Song’ – I’ve never been mis-fortunate enough to hear that song; ‘Heal the World,’ on the other hand, was seared into my consciousness through the Super Bowl half-time show and all the ‘Free Willy’ ads. It was a dark time, my early teens.

      Not to mention, any list of ‘most pretentious songs’ that omits John Lennon admonishing us to “Imagine” life with no possessions is just misguided from the start.Report

      • I go back and forth on Imagine. In the hands of most artists, I think that song would be indescribably pretentious, which is why I can’t stand to listen to any covers of it. But the original, at least to the extent you don’t have to watch the music video with Yoko Ono’s mug? It winds up being a surprisingly pretty and even haunting song to me, even if it has some lines that on their own would make me want to puke. That song even managed to have some real meaning for a good number of people who would never have gone along with the notion of “Imagine no possessions”: the John Lennon wall in Prague remains, to me, one of the more inspirational stories or anti-Soviet resistance to come out of the Cold War.

        I figure the song probably deserves to be brought up in any discussion of pretentious songs, but at least the original version winds up with a lot of mitigating factors.Report

        • John Henry in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          I think I generally agree. As written, the lyrics are hopelessly pretentious. But it’s masterfully arranged and sung by Lennon and you can’t help but buy the sincerity of his performance.

          I suppose, having read too much about the Beatles, it’s the tension between Lennon’s life – the verbally abusive, absentee-father/husband, drug addict, dilettante, millionaire – and the tone of his writing in that song that rubs me the wrong way. But I can’t deny he somehow makes that song believable when he performs it.Report