Sunday, October 10, 2004

Trends and Cycles

There was a time when I could predict most trends and cycles in telvision, movies, and music. I knew when Excalibur and Dragonslayer both came out in 1981 that a cycle towards sword and sorcery movies was beginning. I anticipated the so-called Second British Invasion that took place in the Eighties, when such British groups as Duran Duran and Depeche Mode dominated American music charts. That having been said, however, I think that I may well have lost my touch. As the years have gone by, I have found myself unable to anticipate most trends and cycles.

A perfect example of late is the cycle towards legal dramas that has been going on for years. I thought that it had ended last season, even going so far as to state such in this blog. After all, Ally McBeal was long gone and The Practice had been cancelled. I realised that more legal dramas were debuting this season, but I figured that they would be cancelled in a matter of weeks. It appears I was wrong. Boston Legal (originally titled Fleet Street) has been racking up good ratings--it ranked in the top twenty last week. Alongside America's Top Model, Kevin Hill gave UPN its best ratings on Wednesday night ever. It seems that legal dramas are going to be with us for a while.

Another example is the whole cycle towards reality shows. I thought that it would have ended with last season. But this season will see more reality shows debut than ever before. What is more, many of these shows still perform quite well in the ratings. Survivor still generates huge ratings for CBS, while Extreme Makeover and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition are top shows on ABC. I personally believe that the cycle may be nearing its end, as there is often a glut of such shows in any particular cycle right before that cycle ends. It happened with the Westerns of the Fifties and the spy shows of the Sixties. Unfortuntaely, given my track record in predicting trends of late, I may well be wrong.

I am probably even less accurate with regards to changing music tastes than I am television cycles. For years now I have been predicting the fall of hip hop, but one look at the music charts prove my predictions were premature. It seems that while New Wave, heavy metal, and alternative--all genres of rock--were the music choices of my generation, Generation Y has elected to ditch rock 'n' roll altogether for hip hop. It seems that more often than not these days, when a teenager drives by with his or her stereo blaring, that stero is more likely to be playing LL Cool J than Velvet Revolver.

I can only assume that I have reached that point in my life that most people reach--the point where one is totally out of touch with the young people in America. Since so many cycles and trends in the entertainment world are determined to a large extent by youth, I have somewhat lost my ability to anticipate trends. After all, having nothing in common with the young people today, I have no real means of predicting what will appeal to them. Indeed, just as many old folks couldn't understand the appeal of Iron Maiden or Star Wars, I can't understand the appeal of Nelly or reality shows.

Of course, I haven't totally lost my ability to anticipate cycles and trends. With the success of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the continued success of the Law and Order shows, I realised that there would be a cycle towards police procedurals. But, then again, both Law and Order and CSI are shows that appeal more towards "older" people (as in twenties and thirties...).

At any rate, I cannot say that I am distressed at being out of touch with the youth today. Although I might joke about my age at times, I really don't mind growing older. But I am somewhat distressed at my inability to anticipate cycles and trends. As an amateur historian of pop culture, it is somewhat disturbing to lose the ability to predict what will be popular next...

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