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April 12, 2007

Which Culture-Things From Our Era Will Live On?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

It's a dumb game, it's even a pointless game. But it can be a fun game too. Which culture-things from our era do you suspect will have a long, long life? Will still be in circulation in, say, 2300?

Here are the rules: We aren't listing culture-things because we love them, or are rooting for them, or because we feel they're worthy. We're listing the culture-things that we have a hunch will live on for practical reasons -- ie., given what we know of life, given what we sense about how culture is evolving, and where it's going. Hard-headed is good, sentimental is bad.

My nominees:

  • Led Zep: "Whole Lotta Love." It'll never stop playing.

  • Jenni from Jennicam, because in 2300 everybody will be broadcasting themselves, and Jennicam will be celebrated as the "Odyssey" of the webcam form.

  • The "For Dummies" books, because in 2300 all books will be books you can use.

  • This kitty vidclip from YouTube, because it'll be recognized as the greatest example ever of the kitty-video genre -- which in turn will have become a major art genre.

  • Screw magazine's Al Goldstein, because by 2300 culture and porn will have become indistinguishable.

  • Pong, because in 200 years culture and games will be synonymous.

  • The iPod and the Nike swoosh, because in 2300 everything will look like either an iPod or a Nike swoosh.

  • Craig Stecyk and Glen Friedman, because everything in 2300 that doesn't look like an iPod or a Nike swoosh will look like a decorated skateboard.

  • The Onion, because sometimes -- even if rarely -- history is just.

  • "America's Funniest Home Videos," because the best-of-vidclip format will be acknowledged as the most influential culture-format that our era came up with.

Your hunches?



posted by Michael at April 12, 2007


The Beatles. Their records are still selling after forty years, and they set the tone for the 1960's in ways that a lot of people still don't realize. I regard the 1960's as an era that caused more harm than good, but hey; so did the Napoleonic Era, and we still listen to Beethoven...

Posted by: tschafer on April 12, 2007 6:13 PM

"Whole Lotta Love"! No way in hell.

This will survive. The Geezinslaws' version of "Stairway to Heaven" will ultimately triumph:

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 12, 2007 7:08 PM

The Bible will live on because it's full of stories that address our dilemma, which will live on.

Posted by: ricpic on April 12, 2007 8:18 PM

The Koran. Doubtless it will be in every home by 2300.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 12, 2007 9:27 PM

Which culture-things from our era do you suspect will have a long, long life? Will still be in circulation in, say, 2300?

Honestly? Absolutely nothing.

No, not even 'Groundhog Day'.

Posted by: Jason Malloy on April 13, 2007 5:06 AM

Superheroes and their comics. They'll be like the Norse mythology of our culture.

Some kind of simple punk/pop music. They'll be like the madrigals of the 14th century -- simple folk tunes, seemingly bare melodies compared to the ultra-engineered harmonies they'll be listening to.

Something about our economy will survive, whether it's Bill Gates serving as a Horatio Alger story to future entrepreneurs, or a kind of nostalgia for the creative entrepreneurial capitalism we had back when corporations still had competition.

Posted by: Noumenon on April 13, 2007 8:48 AM

Frange Luton's brilliant novel, Out of Breath Keeping Pace With My Shadow. Not yet fully appreciated, but the groundswell is building. The rumor is that it will be filmed next year so that three remakes can be produced in the future.

Posted by: Rick Darby on April 13, 2007 8:57 AM

The Beatles
I Agree.

"Whole Lotta Love"! No way in hell.
I Agree.

The Bible
I Agree.

The Koran
I Agree.

Also, Dylan, James Brown, The Stones and many other musicians from the 50's, 60's and 70's (Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen, etc.)

How about Mean Streets or Goodfellas or The Godfather or Chinatown? I think they have legs.

Jeez, how about the Simpsons. I am talking about some of the Episodes from Seasons 2, 3 and 4.

Yeah, I think a few things will survive.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on April 13, 2007 9:06 AM

The molecular-scale computing devices pervading every part of the physical world in 2300 will still have bits of code from current versions of Windows, and perhaps even from DOS. And they'll probably be talking over ethernet and TCP/IP or something similar, albeit wrapped in a completely different physical layer.

I expect that some of the classic movies of this era will still be watched in 2300, in the same way that some of the classic books and stories from hundreds or thousands of years ago are still read.

Posted by: albatross on April 13, 2007 9:28 AM

Things that will endure (ie pass Charles Murray's 'really?' question):

Tolkien (started a genre that will last forever & is pretty timeless itself), All along the watchtower (Hendrix, played in every movie ever), Time after time, Flowers for Algernon,
Playboy, The Simpsons (middle period episodes only, no new or very old stuff), Titanic (It WILL endure, I'm tellin ya)... the Simpsons argued Jim Carey would stand the test of time, but I'm skeptical.

Things that should endure but probably won't:

Cameron Crowe's incredible 'Almost Famous' (I have never seen a movie so brimming with sheer WISDOM), Ian McEwan (?), Tom Wolfe (too set in a particular time & place), a gazillion bands I love to death,
Gary Larson calenders...

Things that won't endure, and good riddance:

Most Modernism/Post-modernism.

Posted by: adrian on April 13, 2007 10:00 AM

The fedora. It's been around since the twenties, and though its popularity has waned over the years, it keeps coming back.

Posted by: Alexandra on April 13, 2007 10:12 AM

Things that may endure, & possibly pass Murray's 'really?' question (only don't ask me it!)

Tolkien (started a whole new genre that's just gettin bigger & bigger, expanding from movies to games etc, the originator & best) All Along the Watchtower (in every movie ever, can't think of summertime without it), Time After Time, Titanic (yes it WILL endure, just trust me), The Simpsons (mid period episodes, 94-2001 stuff only), McDonalds, Ronald McDonald & the expression 'McJob' (even though these will have been roboticised long ago)... the Simpsons argued Jim Carey would outlive father time, but I'm skeptical...

Things that should endure, but won't:

Cameron Crowe's incredible 'Almost Famous' (I have never seen a movie so brimming with sheer WISDOM), Ian McEwan (?), Tom Wolfe (too set in one time & place), a gazillion bands I love to death, ... computer games will not endure, certainly not 'pong'... well, maybe solitare & minesweeper...

Things that won't endure, & good riddance:

Most modernism/post-modernism, pop music, boybands, Tom Green, jackass, Damien Hirst..

Posted by: adrian on April 13, 2007 10:27 AM


I'd bet money on it.

Posted by: the patriarch on April 13, 2007 10:49 AM

So, what country will be dominant in 2300?
Will it be China, India, or some conglomerate of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Irag, Syria gloomed into a religious continent of Muslimania?

Cultural artifacts from the early years of the 2000's still around in the 2300's will depend on who's the top dog at the time, I'd think.

So, I'd agree with the Koran and the Bible (although I'd think the Mandarin translated version of both would be in high distribution).

McDonald's, because all of us have to eat and this will be considered gourmet dining in the future when sittign for more than 5 minutes for a communal meal will be considered "quaint".

Jazz, as by the year 2300 most folks will realize that Sun Ra was right. Jazz did come to us from some distant more-evolved galaxy.

Posted by: DarkoV on April 13, 2007 11:48 AM

Snickers about all the hand wringing regarding performance enhancing drugs, with the accompanying curiosity wondering how sports fans could stand to watch athletes who were not juiced.

Posted by: raymond pert on April 13, 2007 12:49 PM

Wow, this is the first post by anyone at 2Blowhards that I have ever absolutely 100% disagreed with. Nothing by LedZep,nope. Nor anything else on the list. The Beatles? You bet! tschafer is right. Lennon & McCartney are on the list of the greatest songwriters in English of all time. Also on the list are John Dowland, Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten and possibly Bob Dylan.

And I would vote for the oeuvre of Joss Whedon. Surely Buffy is also forever?

Posted by: Bryan on April 13, 2007 2:42 PM

Nothing will survive. There will be no culture. There is precious little culture now.

Posted by: djg on April 13, 2007 2:54 PM

Nothing will survive. There will be no culture. There is precious little culture now - just look at the responses to this post.

Posted by: djg on April 13, 2007 2:57 PM

I'd admit that we don't exactly live in a culture-rich era today, but wouldn't that make what little we have now more likely to survive? Besides, I'm not saying that any of the above deserves to survive - I can think of some surviving cultural products from several hundred years ago that might have been better consigned to oblivion, can't you? What is around today that deserves to survive is another post entirely...

Posted by: tschafer on April 13, 2007 4:15 PM

The future belongs to Moondog.

Posted by: Brian on April 13, 2007 6:33 PM

I'd say the only cultural artifacts to survive from our era will be men's shorts and boat shoes.

Posted by: grackel on April 13, 2007 10:56 PM

Beatles music will tumble in popularity after the last boomer croaks and the media is no longer saturated with 'Beatles are the greatest' nonsense.

People will acknowledge the Beach Boys as America's greatest contribution to music.

Posted by: JimD on April 13, 2007 11:12 PM

I'd like some clarification. What do you mean by "live on"?

For example, 300 years ago the top dog in English literature was Alexander Pope. While his name is still remembered, how many people actually read Pope's poetry today? Has he "lived on"?

One of Pope's contemporaries was Jonathan Swift, who of course wrote "Gulliver's Travels" which is clearly read more than anything by Pope. Is it read enough, however, to "live on"?

In other words, is it enough to live on in academia or histories of art, or does it require actual ongoing engagement with the culture to qualify?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 14, 2007 8:44 AM

Yeah, there's a lot of Boomer hype surrounding the Beatles, but I'd still bet they endure, if only for their cultural impact. Also, how are we defining "today's cultural products"? How far back can we go? If we go all the way back to the late 1940's - 1950's, I'll bet Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Khachaturian will endure, too.

Posted by: tschafer on April 14, 2007 9:18 AM

Elvis will outlast the Beatles. Sinatra will outlast Elvis.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 14, 2007 10:44 AM

Almost Famous? The most wise movie you've ever seen? Jesus.

SImpsons - will obviously be watched (and loved!) by scholars of late 20th century American culture, but will anyone else get the jokes?

Buffy - the only people watching it even 20 years from now will be the exact same people who were watching it 10 years ago.

I think superheroes are a good possibility. Soccer, obviously.

Posted by: weichi on April 14, 2007 1:28 PM

Henry Miller---don't forget Henry.

Posted by: Tom on April 14, 2007 2:30 PM

Ray Kurzweil will be remembered as a great futurist/inventor -- on par with Edison and A. Graham Bell. You can know nothing of the future until you've read Kurzweil.

Posted by: Matt on April 14, 2007 8:21 PM

Very little on literature, which I suppose is something that has a longer shelf life (so to speak) given that it is more often studied by academics than even music or film.

Not to say that I am an expert, but I would think that the works of Arthur Miller will survive. As for books, John Irving, and especially The World According to Garp will be mandatory reading for students in 2300.

Posted by: Mike on April 14, 2007 8:24 PM

As for film, I don't know if people will be able to relate by that time. How many young people do you know now who want to watch movies, even excellent ones, from even 60 years ago? If any have a shot, I'd say Indiana Jones. Who have you ever met that doesn't like those movies? No one. Although now that the new one has Shia Lebouf in it, things may change.

Posted by: Mike on April 14, 2007 8:26 PM

No music that we listen to now will survive in any meaningful way. It will fade away after the coming stock market crash and economic collapse, which will bring an abrupt end to nostalgia for anything that happened in the last few decades.

Oh, but the Happy Face will live forever.

Posted by: Tator Tot on April 14, 2007 8:46 PM

I agree, the Bible will live on, but not because "it's full of stories that address our dilemma, which will live on." I don't think the Bible addresses the current dilemmas of modern life at all well. Please explain how it does. It will live on because the whole "heaven or hell depending on if you believe" is such an incredible mindf**k. And because it's already survived a long time as a religion that indoctrinates children.

I think Ray Bradbury will be remembered as one of the great writers and still read. And so will Kurt Vonnegut.

Posted by: Norman Doering on April 14, 2007 8:46 PM

Fast food, lego's, animation, wireless everything, pissed-off green people, long lines, reruns, sequels, fascination with outer space.

Posted by: Dennis Castle on April 14, 2007 8:51 PM

The George W Bush Presidential Library. It will be regarded somewhat as the Second Temple was: virtually no one is allowed to enter it due to a religious security protocol, and those who do enter discover that it is entirely empty.

Posted by: lampwicke on April 14, 2007 9:25 PM

Comedy has remarkably short shelf-life and doesn't translate very well across cultures. So, sorry Simpsons.

Jazz and movies from the 40s and 50s. That's within living memory so I'll call that our time.

So much cultural stuff produced today will be stored in digital formats which will soon be obsolete and degrade. No one will be able to read, listen, or see it.

Posted by: Bhh on April 14, 2007 9:29 PM

Yes, I'm certain that Sinatra will endure, as will Gershwin, but once again, what are we defining as "Our Era"? If we go back as far as the 1940's, I can think of quite a few people and things that will endure. Oh, yeah, Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin will last, I'll bet...

Posted by: tschafer on April 14, 2007 9:29 PM

Robert Anton Wilson.

Posted by: rocco on April 14, 2007 10:28 PM

Kurt Vonneguts Cat's Cradle and Heinlin's Stranger in a Strange Land...


Posted by: wagonjak on April 14, 2007 10:29 PM

Will Ferrell cowbell sketch and Cher.

Posted by: jonwithnal on April 14, 2007 11:14 PM

Bauhaus architecture. In 2300, as at any time, people are going to need space to occupy. Regardless what fashion reigns, somebody is going to come up with the idea that the materials (be they holographic ceramics or whatever) should define the aesthetic. 2300? Let's see...We should have come to this realization about 452 times.

Posted by: kynefski on April 14, 2007 11:19 PM

michael jordan and blue jeans

Posted by: jim on April 15, 2007 12:18 AM

My guess is absolutely nothing of contemporary culture will survive, assuming humans even make it to 2300. If we do assume that the current culture sort of continues, we might still have the year 2300 (or "the year 2525") that is, the calendar. But given the possibilities of genetic manipulation, nanotechnology, implanted technology and what not, "we" might no longer be very recognizable as what passes for "human" these days. And we'll probably all be listening to what The Firesign Theatre called "Gas Music from Jupiter." (All of us. At the same time. No exceptions.)

Posted by: M.Bouffant on April 15, 2007 12:22 AM

What will live on:
* Radiation/biohazard symbols, but more terrifying
* Smileys, but more pornographic
* The guitar, but more electronic and with fewer strings
* Incomprehensible error messages, but in more things (even food!)
* Fad dieting

That cat video is amazing.

Posted by: Ship Erect on April 15, 2007 12:32 AM

Casablanca will live on. Titanic will not. Someone will probably make a far superior film about the disaster between now and then. (Wouldn't be hard.)

Joss Whedon? Buffy? I seriously doubt it. Which isn't to Whedon bash. He just not *that* good. Roddenberry and Star Trek would be far more likely to survive.

The Simpsons? I'd love to think so. But kinda doubt it.

The Bible and the Koran will both certainly survive. And be recognized as mixes of highly influential fiction and mythology.

Coltrane and Miles will live on. Gorecki, I hope.

China will probably still be around. Even if the United States isn't - or at least isn't in the same recognizable alignment of states and geography.

All assuming humanity hasn't extinguished itself before then.

Posted by: Robert S. on April 15, 2007 1:02 AM

Sunglasses. Sunglasses are never going away. They're just too cool.

And you're right. The cat video IS amazing.

Posted by: Carl Granieri on April 15, 2007 1:36 AM

Well, many phrases have endured for centuries, even millennia. Sports terms: "hands down" (horseracing) and "saved by the bell" (boxing); nautical terms: "Learn the ropes," "cut and run," and "three sheets to the wind;" Shakespeare: "fair play," "the game is afoot," and "wild goose chase;" and the bible: "at his wits end," "the powers that be," "bite the dust," and "eat, drink, and be merry."

So I imagine that quite a few modern phrases and ideas will also last. My guesses: "all you can eat" (depression era), "15 minutes of fame" (Andy Warhol), "What's up (doc)?" (Bugs Bunny), "An offer you can't refuse" (Mario Puzo), "Bullshit" (WWI), "Doh," (Homer Simpson), "sound-bite" and "spin-doctor" (1980's), "Catch-22" (Joseph Heller), and probably tons of computer terms that have morphed into common phrases.

Modern devices that will still be in use (in some form): the snooze button, fast food (probably not really "modern"), credit cards, passwords, lighters, DNA tests, post-it notes, sex-change operations, junk-mail, and blogs.

Posted by: tedsaid on April 15, 2007 2:01 AM

Travels by Michael Crichton, Ayn Rand, Bach, Man Vs Wild, Primo Levi, Leo Kottke, The beginning of Woody Allen's Manhattan, and most importantly, we will be living in a world in which Sam Harris has predicted.

Posted by: Chris K on April 15, 2007 2:08 AM

Music? Stravinsky, Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Sondheim, Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra, Beatles and Kate Bush.

Posted by: I. C. Future on April 15, 2007 2:18 AM

In the year 2300 .. {/Conan]
After many bombings, skirmishes, wars, assassinations and slapfights - it was settled between the Abrahamatic monotheists that their religions and sacred texts would be merged. And that year, the Toranible was published.

Posted by: Bren on April 15, 2007 2:31 AM

I'll restrict my predictions to the narrow sphere of games. As for the ones we play today (and have come down to us from generations), I think people will still play card games. Cards are well designed for the hand. Chess, too. Other board games will be gone -- we will no longer put up with the bulkiness and annoying variety of pieces, cards, etc. Word games will never die. Of course there will be games based on technology to come. Maybe we'll be able to watch and bet on sperms racing to the egg.

Posted by: Fred Wickham on April 15, 2007 2:47 AM

The Bible will live on because the world will still be inhabited by nuts.

The Qu'ran, because nuts are available in a variety of flavours.

Posted by: Kenneth on April 15, 2007 4:54 AM

What will survive?


There will be no scarcity of information; the long tail will be very long indeed.

Some things will remain part of the mainstream culture; the majority will be forgotten, but still available to the desperate liberal arts professor looking for something obscure to hang her reputation on. Many things will be considered classics and will be reworked into new versions relevant to whatever day-to-day life is like then.

Mickey Mouse will probably still be under copyright and will probably still be completely irrelevant.

And, fortunately, the youth won't care about 99.9 percent of it and will continue making something supposedly new that echoes everything that came before, but they'll completely lack the self-awareness of that fact.

Religion will survive but can only become more abstract to remain appealing. The Bible, Koran, Torah, and others will survive but will have nearly 100 percent of their content ignored by their adherents, as upposed to the 70-80 percent ignored today.

Posted by: cs on April 15, 2007 6:08 AM

Penrose and Hameroff will be proved right and we will have a new, individual kind of heaven.

Posted by: Gary Harris on April 15, 2007 7:59 AM

I'd admit that we don't exactly live in a culture-rich era today

Why do you admit this? Have you looked out the window lately? We live in an incredibly culture-rich era. We have access to vast swathes of culture from human history, there's an incredible explosion in creative work, and plus we have access to culture from all around the world. What did the Renissance artists know about Japanese prints or Aboriginal xray paintings?

Comedy has remarkably short shelf-life and doesn't translate very well across cultures. So, sorry Simpsons.

I don't know whether you have simply never ever attended a Shakespearean comedy, or if you simply have no sense of humour.

I, however, recently attended _As You Like It_ at a packed showing with a lot of laughter. The only way that comedy has a short shelf-life is if you're measuring years in geological time. In which case the whole of humanity has only been around the blink of an eye.

Jonathan Swift, who of course wrote "Gulliver's Travels" which is clearly read more than anything by Pope. Is it read enough, however, to "live on"?
In other words, is it enough to live on in academia or histories of art, or does it require actual ongoing engagement with the culture to qualify?

Not many people read the original Gulliver's Travels. However retellings, animated films, etc, are pretty common. Lots of engagement with the culture.

My vote is for artists - Graham Sydney and Robert Mapplethrope.

Posted by: Tracy W on April 15, 2007 8:06 AM

Tracy W--

Thanks for answering my question, since MB is obviously having too good a time with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek!

But you never gave me a good answer on Mr Pope..does "The Rape of the Lock" live on, or, by your silence, has it expired?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 15, 2007 9:23 AM

Certainly we have access to much of the best that human beings have produced throughout the ages, but we're not producing much quality cultural ourselves now, at least in my opinion. Perhaps I should have said "culturally fertile".

Posted by: tschafer on April 15, 2007 9:41 AM

By cultural things in our era, I am assuming that this does not limit the list to only things created within the last few generations. So...

Universities. Libraries. Churches/Temples. Cities. Otherwise, the rest is moot...

The songs of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, even if their names are forgotten.

Movies by the Coen Brothers (esp. Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, and Barton Fink), Woody Allen, Todd Solondz, Sophia Coppola.

Books by Cormac McCarthy, Steven King (the Dickens of our times), Vonnegut (RIP), Jose Saramago, Andrea Barrett.

A desire to escape reality - instead of drugs, people will just go to a different reality.

Snobs. Bigotry. Sadly, or not so much so, sarcasm and irony will fade with time.

Posted by: Adam on April 15, 2007 10:03 AM

* First of all, I totally disagree that we don't have much culture - it's just more low-brow than in the past, and less so than in the future.

* The Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita will still exist, as will Shakespeare. And we'll still have yoga and the martial arts.

* The Simpsons is WAY too topical, so it will be relegated to academia, with Alexander Pope and South Park (hopefully Family Guy will die a slow, painful death).

* Doctor Who, Guiding Light and Coronation Street will still be on. So will Sábado Gigante.

* Soccer and soccer hooliganism will still be around.

* Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Night of the Living Dead and Star Wars will all be considered good examples of the early American movie (by that time, movies from the 60's and 70's will be part of Hollywood's early era). Bollywood will still be bigger than Hollywood, as now.

* Beatles, Hendrix, Elvis and Sondheim (Stephen) will all survive the next 200 years, while country and hip hop will be unrecognizable parts of our future folk music. Jazz will be the 24th century's new classical music.

* DRM will be gone, lest the digital format will perish. We will no longer have cassettes, CDs, DVDs or even console games, as everything will be digital.

* Poverty, war, famine and terrorism will still exist, as will the internet, nanotechnology and cloning. If there is global warming (I think there is), it'll probably be beyond our control by then.

* Our Constitution will still be around in some form(it has been a model for many others), and gay marriage and military service will be non-issues.

* And the world's leading language? Hindi. This after English, Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish all go through their cycles of dominance.

This is all providing, as stated earlier, that we haven't been nuked out of existence or wiped away by a meteor.

Posted by: John on April 15, 2007 10:09 AM

Harry Potter. Like Robinson Crusoe or Treasure Island, some stories capture the imagination.

In fact, I can see HP being more popular in the future if we continue to isolate our children from the real world. The kids in HP are engaging in meaningful activities that impact the world around them. Very different from the artificial world of high school.

Posted by: Chris Farris on April 15, 2007 10:16 AM

Button-down collars.

Arguments between Luddites and industrialists will have survived global warming fights and continue, although they will have moved on to other topics.

Conspiracy theories to explain the same sorts of things they currently explain. Humanity won't be any wiser then than it is now. It'll be better able to gather information, but the quality of that information will remain just as poor and agenda-driven as it is today. Current conspiracy theories will be viewed as incredibly stupid, but new ones will be continuously cropping up, sort of like weeds.

First Amendment guarantees of free speech will return after a hiatus for campaign finance laws, but this will be a continuing fight.

Posted by: Dr. Dave on April 15, 2007 10:26 AM

What will survive?

Costco, Starbucks, Carl's Jr.

Fuddrucker's (butt they'll have changed their name to appeal to 'modern' culture)

And Brawndo. It's got what plants crave!

Posted by: Otis Wildflower on April 15, 2007 11:09 AM

Tracy - never heard of those artists before, so i doubt future homo saipians will.

Chris K - God I hope Ayn Rand won't be remembered.

Posted by: adrian on April 15, 2007 11:16 AM

"gay marriage and military service will be non-issues"

I disagree. The future is going to be very reactionary.

Posted by: PA on April 15, 2007 11:43 AM

The Beatles? No way. One of the most irritating things about the bullying dominance of the babyboom generation is the way they presume the pop trivia of their youth is on the same cultural level as Beethoven and Shakespeare.

The Beatles have NOTHING to say to young people today. Their melodies were catchy, but the great weakness of their music is its lyrics: hastily thrown-together bunches of cliches, mindlessly repetitious, when they aren't simply nonsense. The Beatles made the epochal discovery that stoned teenagers don't CARE what the words are to their favorite pop tunes. Hence "I Am The Walrus", "Lucy In The Sky" and all the rest of that tripe. When Beatles words DO make sense, they have the depth of Hallmark greeting card. "Yesterday", "Here Comes The Sun", etc.

The Beatles were clever and made a fortune. But their music and lyrics are not nearly as well crafted as the pop standards of the pre-rock era, which will out-live them once the babyboomers release their stranglehold on popular culture -- by dying of. They'll take the Beatles and the Stones to their graves with them.

Posted by: Steve O. on April 15, 2007 11:51 AM

Otis Wildflower saw Idiocracy.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker will have been recognized as revolutionary.

Posted by: Brian Sorgatz on April 15, 2007 12:22 PM

I think a few of you may be slipping into "what deserves to live on" mode. The game here -- and purely for the sake of being a little different than the usual "It's good!" "no it's not!" game -- isn't about taste or opinion, or whether something's actually good or not, let alone deserving-ness. It's about realistically, given the way our culture is going, what from 1980-2007 is likely to look important to someone looking back from 2300?

Will people still have long enough attention spans to even think about full-length movies, let alone conventional novels? Will people have become so addicted to interactivity that they'll have lost track of why anyone would ever want to have a non-interactive experience? Will girl webcammers have become the highest form of culture by 2300, so therefore Jennicam looks super-important in retrospect?

That kind of thing. Maybe the Beatles will still be considered alive and important in 2300 -- but, practically speaking, try to come up with a reason why. Because pop music in 2300 will ... be melodic again? Will once again be in the hands of moptops from Britain?

Things live on not just because they're good or worthy, but because eras, looking back, see importance in them. They see the origins of themselves and their concerns. Maybe in 2300 everything will be a yuppie chain operation -- so, looking back, it'll seem to them like Starbucks was the greatest cultural creation of our era, because after all it led to them.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 15, 2007 1:01 PM

Brian - I reckon Dawkins' 'Selfish Gene' or Wilson's 'On Human Nature' are more deserving. Future intellectuals will look back to E.O. Wilson rather than Pinker.

Posted by: adrian on April 15, 2007 2:45 PM

Look no further than Orwell's 1984 for what the future holds.. its has already been written.

Posted by: Rahul on April 15, 2007 6:12 PM

Look no further than Orwell's 1984 for what the future holds.. its has already been written.

Posted by: Rahul on April 15, 2007 6:17 PM

I certainly wouldn't argue about the cultural tyranny of the Boomers - I've complained about that myself - but I'd be willing to bet that at least one music group from the Boomer era endures, and the Beatles are the most likely candidate, because they had a tremendous influence on popular music and culture for almost 30 years. Just suggesting that one music group from the 1960's might endure is hardly Boomer Triumphalism. I'd never claim that the Beatles were the equal of Beethoven, or even Gershwin, but they were the best of their era, and so have a good liklihood of surviving. I don't doubt that they have little to say to kids today - although somebody keeps buying those records - but that's not really the issue.

Posted by: tschafer on April 15, 2007 7:46 PM

I wouldn't write off one great pop band: Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid.

Posted by: PA on April 15, 2007 8:16 PM

I'm amazed by the shared optimistic assumption that there will be anything remotely resembling human civilization in 2300.

Although I suspect humanity will survive global warming, pandemics and the probability of multiple nuclear wars before 2300, that survival will most likely make the Dark Ages seem like the good times. And The Sphinx has a greater chance of being around than anything remotely technological that exists today.

Oh, don't forget that asteroid out there that has our name on it.

Posted by: LC on April 15, 2007 9:53 PM

What will live are things that are universal in themes and appeal, not topical or "popular" due to media manipulation.

Some of the Beetles music, but also probably Andy Williams and Kenny Rogers.
StarWars and Tolkien. Gone with the Wind. Indiana Jonees. Titanic? Yes, the story but not the movie, unless it will be the next remake, since Cameron's themes will be seen as dated.

The only people they will remember will be John Paul II and Princess Diana...for the same reason we remember Pope Leo vs the Huns and Anne Bolyn: good stories.

Most of the stuff you mention doesn't even travel well to Asia, so one doubts it is universal enough to travel 1000 years.

Oh yes:Since morality goes in cycles, your porn predictions are wrong...but maybe porn will be "in" by 2400AD.

Posted by: tioedong on April 15, 2007 10:01 PM

But you never gave me a good answer on Mr Pope..does "The Rape of the Lock" live on, or, by your silence, has it expired?

I've read the Rape of the Lock, but I think it's dying.

Of course most things from our culture will die. The question is the ones that won't.

John - First of all, I totally disagree that we don't have much culture - it's just more low-brow than in the past, and less so than in the future.

Evidence for this statement? Exactly how much of the culture from ages past that's still alive today was high-brow?

Shakespeare, the immoral bawd? Jane Austen's novels (novels were the 18th/19th century equivalent of TV), Charles Dickens writing serials for a newspaper? Robin Hood? Nursey rhymes?

And then think about all the entertainment that's disappeared. How are country dances or burning cats alive or bawdy songs high-brow?

Adrian - how many people in the 17th century had heard of Shakespeare? Van Gogh sold something like one painting in his lifetime. It takes time to winnow out the chaff.

Posted by: Tracy W on April 15, 2007 10:58 PM

The Rolling Stones, because they will probably still be touring in 2300.

Posted by: Pavement Trauma on April 16, 2007 4:28 AM

OHHH Just thought of someone - M.C. Escher. He will DEFINITELY be remembered in 2300 as a pioneer - maths + art = future. He's our man, end of discussion.

Posted by: adrian on April 16, 2007 6:29 AM

Appropriately, I think most of today's cultural oddities (and they are odd) will not survive, if even we do, which I seriously doubt. That said, since this is a zero-sum game, I'll play along: Stephen King will be recognized as the most important writer of our era. Spectator sports will become increasingly more violent and act as most people's entertainment. Video games will morph into live feeds of actual soldiers fighting any number of wars being waged around the world. Society's elite will have long since abandoned the planet for terra-formed Mars, controlling the last remaining source of water for Earth. The Bible, Koran and Torah will be banned entirely as the primary causes of global conflicts. The marketing and consumption of human flesh as sustenance will be totally normal. Pack your stuff, folks - we're going away, and thank goodness for that.

Posted by: Mattyhorn on April 16, 2007 10:10 AM

"The Rolling Stones, because they will probably still be touring in 2300."


Posted by: the patriarch on April 16, 2007 10:24 AM

It's about realistically, given the way our culture is going, what from 1980-2007 is likely to look important to someone looking back from 2300?

This is not a realistic question. The culture in 2300 will depend on new knowledge discovered between 2007 and then, which by definition cannot be predicted. This is a fun exercise, not a realistic one. Now I'm going to contradict myself completely in giving answers to your next two questions.

Will people still have long enough attention spans to even think about full-length movies, let alone conventional novels?

Judging by the increasing complexity and length of modern popular entertainment, yes. This is of course subject to what I said above, so I'm merely extrapolating trends here, but popular movies, novels, and TV series are getting more complex. Look at the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter - not only long books/movies in themselves, but spread over a series. Look at Kill Bill or the Matrix or Pirates of the Carribean.

Look at TV series. 1960s it was the anthology show (except for soaps) - at the end of each show the characters returned to their original positions. Now we have long plots running for the whole season, characters are continually changing. Rather than game shows consisting of a bunch of folk answering questions in a studio with perhaps the winner coming back next week we have reality shows following people over a season.

There is of course shorter work still being made and enjoyed, and there is continual innovation in that work, and I expect such innovation to continue, but then there has always been shorter work around (18th century broadsheet ballads for example). But I don't see a diminishment in length and complexity overall.

Will people have become so addicted to interactivity that they'll have lost track of why anyone would ever want to have a non-interactive experience?

No. Two reasons:
1. Our own histories are not interactive, (barring the invention of time travel). Yet they are continually interesting because they led to where we are now. Art that mimics that experience - art that tells you what did happen - will continue to hold our attention.
2. We don't want art to be interactive all the time. I don't want my walls to demand my attention while I'm trying to have breakfast. But it's still good to have beautiful artwork I can gaze at when I have some spare time and attention.

Posted by: Tracy W on April 16, 2007 5:49 PM

Jennicam? My god man, did Jenni even make it to 2001? She's already barely a trivia question now.

I don't know if the Beatles will make it, but the Beatles bashing on this thread is pretty silly. There are millions of people under the age of 30 who love the Beatles so it is quite clear they have some staying power, and do speak to younger people.

Posted by: vanya on April 17, 2007 8:46 AM

If we're talking America, my guess is those things that already have legs (though I may have ventured a little out of "our era"):

- Wizard of Oz - the movie
- Star Trek - the original series, with the original special effects, not the silly new tarted up version they're broadcasting
- Gone with the Wind
- The Godfather movies
- Groudhog Day
- The Day the Earth Stood Still
- It's a Wonderful Life
- Casablanca
- Star Wars
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting - (the Robert and Paul movies)
- Frankenstein (book and movies)
- Dracula (book and movies)
- The Marx Brothers
- The Three Stooges
- Abbott and Costello
- I Love Lucy
- Seinfeld
- M*A*S*H
- (I'd love to say "Hill Street Blues" because it was something else and still is, but it seems to be going down the memory hole)
- Superman
- Batman
- Bill Cosby
- Richard Pryor
- George Carlin
- Beatles
- Pink Floyd
- Eagles
- Fleetwood Mac
- John Mellencamp (really - he's the only one in the bunch who still charts)
- Elton John
- Hank Williams
- Jimmy Buffet
- Elvis Costello
- Elvis Presley
- Chuck Berry
- The Rolling Stones
- U2
- Willie Nelson
- Motown
- Stephen King
- Kurt Vonnegut
- C.S. Lewis
- J.R.R. Tolkien (books and movies)
- J.K. Rowling (the books, the movies won't have legs)
- Robertson Davies
- Robert Frost (the only poet I still hear quoted)
- (I'd love to say John Irving, but I don't know if his novels will have meaning 100 years from now)
- (I'd also love to say "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace, but the jury's still out on that)
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee - it's timeless
- Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
- Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's series
- Anything ratpack related: Sinatra, Dino, Sammy, and Jerry Lewis
- Clint Eastwood movies
- Stephen Spielberg movies
- Adam Sandler movies (you just watch)
- John Carpenter movies
- Disney/Pixar cartoons
- Bugs Bunny and pals
- Monty Python
- Roald Dahl (books and movies)

Couldn't think of a single visual artist who would endure outside of art history books.

All comments on religion thus far are specious because religion is being treated like a fad rather than something that has endured the ages already. Maybe that's it then: the intelligentsia's current very shallow view of what religion is will be remembered - kind of like we remember ages and events in which religious views went too far.

Posted by: yahmdallah on April 17, 2007 10:36 AM

Uh, let me sorta retract my "comments on religion thus far are specious" crack. I feel that's too strong of a way to state my point. If I can figure out a better way to state my meaning, I'll do so.

Most humble apologies to anyone who found that offensive.

Posted by: yahmdallah on April 17, 2007 3:21 PM

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