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9/18/2007

Henry Rollins recently released a commentary via his TV show regarding freedom and how the truth in the nation and how it is being obscured, manipulated and thoughtlessly perverted. However, in spite of such injustices, there is a tool, a venue, if you will (and I will) to “out” the truth.

”That’s right, the Internet. Perhaps responsible for the most substantial shift in our culture in decades. There’s so much freedom and potential on the World Wide Web that one is barely able to get one’s head around it.”

Right, wrong or indifferent, Rollins does bring up one very essential point: the Internet is a remarkable outlet for the intellectual masses to clamor and voice their opinions and insights, in turn influencing the undecided and uninitiated.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so wary about the fact that we seem to be squandering it.

Look, I’m not gonna sugarcoat things. I like the Internet. I’m a card-carrying member of Generation Y. I check MySpace, Facebook and YouTube pretty much daily. Being that I don’t have cable (revolutionary, I know), the Internet serves as my primary source of entertainment, news and enlightenment. And for my personal reasons, it has served as the nominal venue for me to express my opinions vis-à-vis my comfy home on the blogosphere.

That said, yes, the Internet offers endless opportunities for people from all walks of life to express themselves. But like most good things, it seems to go overboard at times. You know that happens when the two rocket scientists renowned for mixing Diet Coke and Mentos are showing up on Leno. You know something’s up when the term “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” is absorbed into the contemporary lexicon. And you know something’s really twisted when Law & Order is doing an episode inspired by “lonelygirl15.”

(Even scarier when you read an article that the aforementioned webisode series became so popular that it featured Katherine McPhee from American Idol. Want more head-scratching minutiae? It also garnered sponsorship from Neutrogena, leading to the legendary “sell-out” method of product placement and a new character who works for the company. The product life cycle seems to have petered out with the show jumping the shark due to its titular star being killed off. This was of course because the actress playing her now has a film career and her contract requires her full attention. This shit is utterly fascinating to me… how a viral webisode could be victim to all the standard pratfalls of standard network television… replete with a spin-off, of course. For serious.)

Is this the new medium? Is this the influential entity imparted upon us? You have to wonder.

I can’t lie; for every off-color cultural meme that circulates the world’s web browser, there are a handful I dig. I find the humor behind “Ask A Ninja” to be vastly amusing, not unlike classic “Strong Bad” e-mails. And every once in a while there’s something sobering and thought-provoking like Noah Kalina’s photography project. I’ll even fess up to being a fan of Mahir’s page back in college.

But for the most part, these amusing little time-killers and viral elements don’t appear to carry much weight in the long run. From the moment the hit counters start climbing, the clock reaches 14:59:59 and seems to move at a lightning pace. These web icons seem to vanish as quickly as they appeared, yet all having left an indelible mark on culture.

No lie, I was at a Greek event recently and the DJ played the “Numa Numa” song. Dead serious, folks. Someone went to the trouble of getting this CD because of… well, this.

Pretty incredible, huh?

So why am I writing about this now, so late in the game? Why didn’t this begin to bother me during the heyday of Star Wars Kid? I’ll tell you why.

Meet the Internet’s newest phenomenon: Chris Crocker.

Chris’s sob-laden rant about Britney Spears, whether real or fabricated, has unleashed a sea of coverage, commentaries, and of course, parodies. Within days, a similar vlog was uploaded featuring a (terrible) George W. Bush impersonator demanding that we all “leave General Petraues alone!”

This is where I begin to draw lines in the sand… when Internet memes go from confounding to outright annoying. I’m going to say this once: can we please avoid giving this guy the attention he’s clearly craving? We’ve had enough pop cultural trainwrecks in the 21st century to last us a whole millennium. I, for one, do not intend to add to the downward trending of our collective IQ. Mr. Crocker’s “star” already seems to be on the decline as most folks I’ve talked to now regard him as completely abrasive rather than amusing. This is compounded by viewings of his prior work… I would personally rather stab my eardrum with a red hot poker than be subjected to such a half-assed form of “self-expression.”

I guess the entire Catch-22 of the Internet and freedom of speech in general is that it gives anyone the ability to voice their opinions. It’s what makes this nation great and what also makes it pretty goddamned ridiculous at times.

Which is why I will stay on my personal mission to use the Internet to inflict truth as Mr. Rollins so aptly addresses. I understand that these bizarre moments will come and go… sometimes they’ll draw my attention, other times they’ll leave me completely befuddled. With that said, I’ll keep my method of personal persuasion limited to the written word, as it is the primary draw for me to absorb information to begin with. Regardless of whether it’s on paper or on a screen.

And when all else fails, I can still remember the glory days of "Napster, Bad!" Now that's comedy.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.