Friday, July 10, 2009

Revisit Disco Demolition Night and Make America Better

July 12th is the 30 year anniversary of the infamous "Disco Demolition Night" at Comiskey Park in Chicago, between games of a White Sox double header against the Tigers.

For those of you too young to remember, this was a time when the popular culture was beginning to turn on the relatively shallow, beat-filled phenomenon known as disco music, which probably reached its zenith following the 1977 release of Saturday Night Fever. (For the record, I was, and still am, a fan of disco. I guess it's the hip hop of the getting ready for jello and shuffleboard crowd. Sue me). In response to the growing antipathy toward disco, and the format change of local radio stations, an area DJ worked in conjunction with Mike Veeck (son of legendary promotional huckster and then Sox owner Bill Veeck) to come up with a marketing event that allowed fans in for 98 cents if they brought a disco record (remember those?) to the stadium to be destroyed in "protest" between games.

Well, the promotion worked entirely too well. The fans came to the stadium en masse, all smoked and liquored up. The records were collected in a box in center field and blown the fuck up with explosives. Fans poured onto the field, cops followed, riots ensued, fires were started, the field was destroyed, the stadium shook and the second game was forfeited.

It marked a turn in the zeitgeist of popular culture, when people just got fed up with what was being force fed to them by all their entertainment outlets.

Now, as I mentioned, I actually liked disco, though I appreciated it for what it was and certainly didn't turn to Lipps, Inc or KC and the Sunshine Band for the lyrical depth I could get from a Dylan record. There was a time and place for it, but I can certainly understand the frustration of audiophiles whose radio stations suddenly stopped playing Zeppelin, the Stones and Floyd in favor of The Village People. As the anniversary of this event rolled around, I wondered, what could be so odious today as to make me show up at a stadium, frothing at the mouth to watch metaphorical christians fed to the metaphorical lions? And then it dawned on me. What is the biggest plague on the entertainment landscape today? REALITY TV.

Think of the parallels. Does is substantively dumb down another similar form of entertainment? Yes. Once it became popular, did the market flood with cheap knock offs that people lapped up without even considering the quality? Yes. Is it an affront to craftsmen who strive mightily to produce top shelf, written and thought provoking material? Yep. Does it succeed with the masses while more intelligent and artfully constructed offerings struggle to find an audience? You betcha. Does looking at the Top 20 produce a throbbing in your temples that can only be relieved by an act of wanton, bloodthirsty violence? Oh, yeah.

I suggest that some enterprising baseball marketing guru commemorate the anniversary of "Disco Demolition Night" with a similar promotion: "Reality Rampage Night."

Between games of a double header, the promoters would wheel out onto the field a wagon full of reality "stars," all chained together. The Kardashians. All the "real" housewives. Jon and Kate. Denise Richards. Paris Hilton. The vapid trollops and himbos from The Hills and its spinoffs. Supernannies. Anyone who has ever participated in a "rose ceremony." Anyone who has participated in a hot tub three way in order to further their "personal brand." Anyone who thinks having their "relationship" beamed into our homes doesn't make us want to stretch a condom over our widescreen. Anyone who has ever seen Bret Michaels or Flavor Flav naked. If you've been on television, the cover of US Weekly and are famous for having no discernible talent, skills, taste or intellect, you're on the chain gang. Also included are any and all television executives responsible for greenlighting these shows.

For admission to the ballpark, fans can purchase a 98 cent ticket provided they bring with them an Irish car bomb, a pitchfork, a chainsaw, a Molotov cocktail, a blunderbuss, a trident, nunchucks, a mace, a flamethrower or ninja throwing stars. Free 24 oz. tallboy beers are served to every fan who shows a DVD of an actual television program featuring a script, acting and directing. A recording of Harry Carey counting down "a-one, a-two, a-three" readies the crowd for the attack, and then the angry mob of scripted television fans descends upon the clueless, vapid morons chained together and rends them limb from limb. An announcement comes over the stadium speakers, the mob backs away, and the cancerous tumor toxifying our programming is finally excised as a series of explosives planted in center field finishes the job, blowing the "reality" pestilence into a fine red mist.

Surely this would be more satisfying, healthy and cathartic for the nation than burning a couple of Peaches and Herb records, right? Who's with me?!

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