Simon Kelner: Who's going to set a bad example for the kids now?

Kelner's View

Share

Time was when a rock star wasn't an authentic rock star unless he or she drove a pink Cadillac into a hotel swimming pool, or appeared on stage in a foul-mouthed, drunken mess or, at the very least, insisted on a rider that every pack of Smarties in the dressing room had the blue ones removed.

These days, however, your average rock star is more likely to be backstage reading a Paolo Coelho novel while sipping camomile tea and worrying about which public school to send seven-year-old Augustine. Such was the impression left by this week's Brit awards, if the critics are to be believed. Andy Gill of this parish said that the show was "perhaps the dreariest two hours that TV viewers have sat through in decades" while others have cited the procession of clean-cut, clean-living performers as the apotheosis of what has been coined "The New Boring".

Invented by music journalist Peter Robinson, this is a term which applies to some of the most popular cultural phenomena of our time. Like, for instance, Downton Abbey, or the property show presenter Kirstie Allsop, or the singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, or, indeed, almost everyone else who was honoured by the Brits the other night. It is true that none of this represents the heights of intellectual challenge, but is this an actual movement inspired by our politically correct times, or is it just a coincidence?

It is true that a show that begins with the antiseptic music of Coldplay and ends with a band whose lead singer believes that drink is the enemy of achievement, whose drummer is a Labour politician and whose bass player is a farmer who likes nothing more than a night in with a hunk of Cheddar is unlikely to scare the horses. But that doesn't necessarily mean it represents a creative shift.

After all, for every Keith Moon we had a Cliff Richard, and for every Pete Doherty we had an Olly Murs. Nevertheless, we are probably right to mark the passing of an era in rock which was best exemplified by Warren Zevon, one of the baddest boys in popular music history. In his magnificent song, 'Mr Bad Example' (download it now), Zevon lays it on the line: "I'm Mr Bad Example/Intruder in the dirt/I like to have a good time/And I don't care who gets hurt". Unfortunately, Zevon is no longer with us and were he still alive many of his songs would come with a parental advisory warning.

Of course, I'm not saying that Zevon is anything other than a bad example, but I do think those who rail against this current age of moderation may be on to something. I have remarked before on the fact that nobody in public life can do or say anything that may be considered awkward or controversial without being submerged in a tidal wave of opprobrium.

It has long been the case in politics, so it was only a matter of time before this extended to other areas of modern life. We should not be surprised by the success of the confessional Adele, or the teetotal Sheeran. It is merely an acute case of the bland leading the bland.

 

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jeremy Corbyn could be about to pull off a shock victory over the mainstream candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall   

Every club should be like Labour – you can’t join as a new member unless you’re already a member

Mark Steel
The biggest task facing Labour is to re-think the party's economic argument, and then engage in battle with George Osborne and his policies  

There's a mainstream alternative to George Osborne's economics

John Healey
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works