THE RAW REVIEW
The only thing anyone will remember about this episode of Monday Night Raw is that Triple H danced with New Day. And while a small smile might have cracked on my face when Triple H started dad-dancing, the fact that this is the only moment to really entertain people and get people excited is something we should all be ashamed of - WWE and fan alike.
Ten seconds of dancing, on a three hour "Sports Entertainment" show is shameful.
We’ve created a glittery-giffy world where performers now know when their funny little dances or their amazing flips are going to be transformed into gifs and memes. We wait in anticipation of meme and gif moments and so we see memes and gifs in everything. Instead of actually enjoying the moment and comprehending the moment, we fantasize about condensing the moment into a 5 second contextless clip that reminds us of what we saw and enjoyed when, back when we saw it and enjoyed it in real-time we were thinking about how it was going to make a great gif.
This is a horribly self-conscious world where inspiration goes to die.
In this world of big, fluffy white text and loud noises and broad gestures and ceaseless dancing that which makes us human beings gets buried in the muck of delusion.
Memes and gifs stunt our mental growth and train us, like rats in some hideous experiment, to push the orgasm-button over and over and over again instead of pushing the button that releases substance.
Because we pop for memes and gifs, we continue getting memes and gifs from pro-wrestlers and show-runners. Not good wrestling. Not good television. Not good art.
We make these memes and these gifs and performers play to our desire to make these memes and these gifs because we are all incredibly bored and we are all incredibly afraid.
We’re bored by a television show that steadfastly refuses to alter its format in the slightest, a television show that tells you, in the first five minutes, whether it loves you or hates you for watching it on any given night.
And we’re afraid to think and feel because the world we live in has encouraged us to think and feel with a hive-mind - a homogenous soup where everything looks the same, sounds the same, feels the same, smells the same, tastes the same.
The concept of artistic daring and thoughtfulness has been beaten out of our brains after years and years of fast-food-cartoon-Disney-fictions teaching us to believe vapidity is normal…even good for us.
I like a good meme.
I like a good gif.
And I know you like a good meme.
And I know you like a good gif.
But I fear for a society born out of them.
I fear for a culture that spends too much time making memes and gifs rather than creating or understanding art. Memes and gifs, while fun, represent the absolute bottom of our creative barrel, and it won’t take long for a generation of young men and women to think that memes and gifs are the best way human beings express themselves creatively.
In 1999, if Triple H, in his current form, danced, it would have become a conversation.
“Did you see Triple H dance?!”
“I did, oh man, that was great.”
“I thought it was stupid.”
“Because I want to watch pro-wrestling, I don’t want to watch dancing.”
“Lighten up, man, it’s just entertainment.”
“No it’s not, Gary, you idiot. You should watch Wrestling With Shadows.”
In 1999, Triple H dancing would have become a story between friends where a human being needed to use the power of their brain to create an image in someone else’s mind.
“You see New Day was asking him to come join them because they’re kind of weird and crazy and then finally Triple H broke down and just started dancing. It was typical dad-dancing, it was really funny and unexpected”.
In these processes, someone has to apply the effort of thought to arrive at an understanding. When you exert any kind of real effort you become better at the thing you’re doing. Even if you discover, after a great deal of effort has been expended, that the thing you’re doing is pointless, you’ve learned your lesson all the better because you’ve experienced the pain of wasted effort. You’re more likely to learn when you use your brain, when you share your thoughts, and when you hear someone’s thoughtful reaction back. And someone listening to a story will create an entirely fictional universe in their mind based on the words they hear - a unique world that never would have existed otherwise.
What happens when you share a gif?
Is there a conversation?
What happens when you see a meme?
Do you tell a story?
I charge you to describe a gif to your mom. See if she’s compelled by that story. See if she thinks that’s something worth seeing. Stories about gifs and memes are terrible stories and they’re incredibly difficult stories to tell that ultimately amount to, “You just have to see it to understand.”
Anything that can be described with “You just have to see it to understand” is something to be incredibly wary of. And a person who relies on that easy exit should be challenged to go further, to think harder, to come up with something confident and real.
No one in the middle-ages ever said, “You just have to see it to understand, Jerry.”
They told stories by the light of campfires.
People used their imaginations.
Today, they look at gifs, chuckle for five seconds, and then move on to the next distraction.
I created this meme.
No one will remember this existed.
No one will ever care that I spent a few hours putting this together.
I had fun making it, and I was happy to see people liked it. But it didn’t take long for that high to fade. After the initial flood of notifications and comments all I wanted was more notifications and comments. I couldn’t go back and look at the meme and discover anything new about it or about myself. I couldn’t reminisce about the creation of the meme because I honestly couldn’t remember cutting and pasting and copying all those photos together. It wasn’t something I could show my mom or my brothers or my wife and feel truly proud of, as if I’d contributed something meaningful to the world.
It was an isolated experience.
When I look back on the short films I've made on the short stories I've written on the novels I've written, I remember the friends I made and the ideas I had and the mentors who made me better. Whenever I've made a meme, I only see the number in my inbox go up, and seeing it go up makes me high.
The only conversations being had on this meme were brief exchanges between strangers, asking why HBK and Chris Jericho weren’t on the poster. None of those strangers remember making those comments. None of those strangers remember this poster or care about this poster. None of those strangers will say, “Hey, you’ve gotta check out this poster”. They’ll just tag someone. And that someone will comment back, “that’s awesome” or “where’s Kane?”.
So, as an artist, I created something that had no real, lasting affect on the world or, almost more importantly, myself. I didn’t learn anything about myself as a result of this expression. I didn’t feel much as a result of this expression. The process was as simple as, “Might be cool to mashup Star Wars and wrestling”.
That’s it. The response is proportionate to the level of thought that went into it. I created something that could be adequately discussed in a comments section.
You may still have substance in your life.
I’m not worried about you.
You grew up with just enough quality and just enough intelligence and just enough of a disconnection from the internet and technology to be able to enjoy a good meme or a good gif and go about your day mentally unharmed.
But think about those children not yet born who will come into a world where memes and gifs are more important than the art that inspired those memes and gifs.
Those children will try to tell stories to their friends about memes and gifs and those will be horrendous stories that inspire little thought and simply cannot stimulate our vast, bottomless imaginations. Those children will, instead of telling stories, tell memes and gifs. They’ll say, “look at this” and then their friend will say, “oh yeah, that’s cool” and that will be the end of it.
Think of a world where a child says, just before doing something, “I hope this gets turned into a gif.”
We once aspired to create novels, films, plays, songs, poems, sculptures, cities, countries, worlds. In the not too distant future we’ll aspire to condense the grandeur of humanity into ten seconds of thoughtless fun.
Consider what that means for the future of art.
We already see a self-conscious twinge of vapidity in our arts when we examine what’s genuinely popular with the masses. And we see the same when we look at what's not popular - a generation of artists living in the shadow of The Lost Generation or The Beatniks.
We don’t have popular painters and popular photographers and popular filmmakers and popular musicians and popular philosophers and popular theologians.
We have memes.
We have gifs.
We have viral videos.
We have people who are famous for their Instagram.
We have people who are famous because people watch them play videogames.
We have people who are famous for shirking their Disney-kid reputation and straddling foam fingers and wrecking balls.
That is a world to fear.
The artist is to blame for this degradation as much as the viewer - keeping his art sequestered in the world of fancy wine and boring conversation; an elitism antithetical to the universal soul of art.
The “average person” gets the gifs and the memes.
The “average person” gets “Entertainment” and the word “Art” becomes big and scary and alienating and tantamount to "pretentious ass". No one wants to be a pretentious ass and so we shy away from art and pursue a world of conveyer-belt super hero movies.
The artist gets his gallery and his Brooklyn commune and his banjo and his poetry and his philosophy and he goes on talking only to the people he knows and the people he likes and he drowns in a world no different than the world of endless memes and endless gifs.
I refuse to let our imaginations and our brilliance and our desire to create be hijacked by our boredom and our ability to be easily manipulated.
I will not let what’s best in us be mutated into something nasty, cold, and fleeting.
There’s a reason people travel the world to catch a glimpse of The Mona Lisa, just as there’s a reason people still talk about Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII or Mick Foley's fall from the top of the cell.
No one dared to think those masterpieces and moments in time could be summed up with a gif.
If you gathered up all the memes and gifs created for this particular episode of Monday Night Raw you’d come away thinking it was a really entertaining episode.
It was yet another in a long line of increasingly uninspired episodes devoid of intelligence.
But the memes and the gifs tell a different story.
The memes and the gifs tell a lie.
The only thing anyone will remember about this episode of Monday Night Raw is that Triple H danced with New Day.
But they won’t remember it for long.
Comments have been disabled for this post because I'd rather you spent more time considering that particular thought or spent time sharing it with another human being in real-life or spent time creating something that represents your world-view.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Share it if you are so inclined, and have a nice day!