As icons and monoliths continue to fall we are left with less and less role models to look to. Who replaces Michael Jackson? What about Whitney Houston? These intense groups of fandom and praise do not just disappear, instead, they hover. They float aimlessly never to truly be fulfilled. Who is going to live up to the hype that so many passing legends have generated in their lifetime? This level of enthusiasm existed once and it implies that the public desires for it to exist again.
Except, there is no one else to live up to these icons. These people came to popularity in a time of moreorless one-way communication and when what was on the radio was truly an indicator of popular American culture. The truth is that the future is iconless and that the playing fields are completely level. Take a look at someone like Lil B and look at how much instantaneous praise he gets on Twitter. Conversely, look at someone like Rupert Murdoch, who might Tweet something casual only to be greeted by a hostile stream of criticism and backlash. The public is rabid and there is no longer a barrier that exists to keep our opinions concealed from the celebrated and the popular.
This desire for new cultural messiahs has become vehement and aggressive. Musical movements and relevant films come and go in the blink of an eye and with every passing day, the hype only intensifies. The momentum is not disappearing — it’s increasing and it’s growing restless, leading to “trendy/flimsy” culture. Today, Whitney Houston died. Who will die tomorrow? How many more icons will pass before we look around and realize that the field is completely devoid of beloved American role models? How long before we look to the youth of the moment and find that there is no megaband and there is no universally loved actor to fill the longing void?
The cultural horizon is flat and infinite with absolutely no peaks that can be seen by the objective eye. The only truth now, the only thing that matters, is your personal opinion and subjective taste. The future is niche. Every passing star makes the night that much darker. However, there will never come a time when the sky shines as brightly as it did decades past. It will not be long before we realize there is an approaching dawn and we no longer need to wait for the next Christlike cultural figure to emerge. The new icon is that of eclectic personal choice. As we learn to embrace every voice, no matter how much coverage has been given upon the radio or the Oscars, we will see a shining sun replacing the once astounding glow of the Hollywood twilight. While the light that was cast down from the era of one-way communication was certainly meaningful to so many people, in time, I think the populous will begin to see just how glorious the collective brightness can actually be.