By Miles Leicher
And just like that, an American icon who forever changed the way we consume entertainment is gone. The news wasn’t entirely unexpected, but many of us were still blindsided when we heard…that Hank Williams Jr. would no longer be a part of Monday Night Football. I’m kidding, of course; nobody gives a possum’s ass about that guy. Besides, we’re all too busy mourning the loss of what one respected news organization called, “the last American who knew what the fuck he was doing.”
Steve Jobs’ death made many of us stop and think about how different our daily lives would be without all of the magical little devices he created. And, for many of us, it was the first time since we bought our first iPod that we had stopped to think at all. It was more than just the gift of gadgetry, though, that gave us pause. It was because Jobs was one of the few people looking forward when so many of us seem to be focused on the past. Granted, the dude rocked turtlenecks way too far into the new millennium, but that was harmless compared to those who refuse to progress beyond drilling for oil, to admit that man might be responsible for climate change or to acknowledge that Hank Williams Jr. always kind of sucked.
My experience with the past is more or less limited to the hour of ‘Pan Am’ that I just watched, but it does say something about our direction as a nation that, in 2011, we’re watching TV shows set the 1960s. We’ve got the aforementioned show, which takes us back to a magical time when stewardesses – excuse me, flight attendants, were hot and people didn’t travel in their pajamas; ‘Mad Men,’ which made us all stash a bottle of whiskey in our desk (just me?); and ‘The Playboy Club,’ which NBC swears they’ve cancelled but really just started hiding on the top shelf of their closet.
Honestly, though, for as much as we’ve been glamorizing the sixties lately, we’ve really been focusing on the bullshit parts. What we’ve seen emphasized are the parts where the white men were comfortable: flying business class, banging their secretary and being served cigarettes by teenage girls dressed like rabbits (paging Dr. Freud). You know, that time in history that the Tea Party would like to “take America back” to – a time when Barack Obama couldn’t get a seat at a lunch counter, let alone the Oval Office.
The aspect of that decade that we should be glamorizing – the part that Steve Jobs grew up in – is the forward-looking culture it spawned, where people watched ‘The Jetsons’ and looked to the future and gave their fellow citizens more rights, rather than try to limit them. And yes, okay, let’s also bring back the part where we got drunk at work and would punch someone in the dick if they boarded a flight in sweatpants. We were on to something there.
It’s no coincidence that Apple, led by Jobs, with its focus on bold and innovative ideas, has become the most valuable company in the world. Apple is often the first to adopt new technology and the first to reject the old. Perhaps it’s time for America to do the same: start embracing some of the new, promising things that the world has to offer, like renewable energy and public healthcare – and rejecting the old crap, like oil subsidies and John McCain.
Nowadays, when it comes to things that we, as a society, look forward to, there are really only two things that come to mind: The first, of course, is Friday night, because that’s when ‘Real Time’ is on. The second is the release of a new Apple product. Seriously – now that ‘Harry Potter’ is over, what else gets people excited enough to sleep on the sidewalk outside of a mall? And don’t say homelessness. That shit’s real.
On the bright side, if you’re someone who loves Bill Maher and new iPhones, today you can get both! You lucky bastard.