Things I Dig: A Dose of Nina Simone

Our pop-cultural landscape is decidedly beige. Vanilla. Nondescript. Nothing is truly dangerous. Our icons assume dangerous poses without actually being threats to the world order, to the orthodoxy, to the conventional. To anything really. Our icons threaten the order of things in the same way that Jean Claude Van Damme poses a threat in Kickboxer or Bloodsport ; only if you suspend belief, play make believe or don’t actually have to fight. It’s pantomimed danger.

And I say “our”, because these are our icons, the ones we crave, create and debate. These are our icons because we don’t demand any more of them. Now I’m  not about to suggest that things were better back in the day. I wouldn’t really know if that were the case. Plus it’s too easy to reflect on days gone by and make heroes out of men, make martyrs out of pop singers and make sages out of songwriters. But I do know that I’m not the only one fighting to stifle yawns when so-called cultural critics and commentators talk about the likes of Lil’ Wayne, Lady Gaga or Rihanna with the reverence one usually associates with statesmen, spiritual leaders and social activists.

I was left pondering this crap after enduring a conversation with someone who seriously believes Christina Aguilera and Rihanna are legends. Think about that for a while. Let it marinate. It makes me want to scrub my brain of this conversation. Not erase. Not clean. Scrub. It makes me wonder what the cerebral equivalent of Dettol would be. I decided there was but one antidote: Nina Simone.




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