Yearing for the Past with Michelle Tanner

Stupid things are wonderful. Without them, it would be much more difficult to distinguish smart things from dumb ones, making life far less interesting.Our generation in particular seems to adore stupid things, perhaps more than any otherbefore us. Among the things I’m referringto are Dane Cook, “Full House” reruns and Journey’s epic “Don’t Stop Believin’.” If these things weren’t stupid, I probably wouldn’t be talking about them.Before the cacophony commences, first let me admit, that while I believe that the three things mentioned above are stupid, I love them nonetheless and I am glad to have them in my life.But the fact remains that Dane Cook, while popular and typically funny, probablywon’t be remembered in 50 years. He found his audience niche (college students and twenty-somethings) and directly appealsto them via hilarious commentary on throwing up, random hookups and carafes of Kool-Aid storming through walls.Similar arguments can be made for Full House and Journey: within their respective mediums, they aren’t particularly special in any way except for the fact that they’re just so damn entertaining. In fact, if anything they’ve set the forms back a bit. No Emmys were ever awarded to Bob Saget and no Grammy was ever placed in the hands of Steve Perry. But why is it that our generation’s (arguably) most recognizable comedian, television show and song are all so stupid, yet also so important, especially since two of the three aren’t even current? The explanation is twofold.Firstly, the generation that grew up predominantly in the 1990s (ours) was a generation unlike any other. The 90’s were a time of unparalleled economic growth, political contentment, national safety and general comfort. It was a time of relative simplicity. There were no assassinations, major wars or political corruptness. Flash-forward to 2007 and everything is different: the economic boom has stalled, political approval is plummeting to all-time lows and the general sense of unease that blanketed the nation on 9/11 still lingers.Secondly, “Full House” is a sappy show with hardly any serious messages (except the one in which D.J. confronts Kimmy about drinking), Dane Cook rarely touches controversial topics that past comedians have embraced (racism, depression etc.), and the lyrics of “Don’t Stop Believin'” speak for themselves.In essence, none of these three things are outrageously serious and certainly not controversial.For this reason, we adore them, to escapethe anxiety and tension that has been heaped upon us since at least 9/11 and probably before then, when Mom and Dad started signing you up for SAT classes in middle school. There is enough controversy in current affairs and enough heft in our personal affairs to at times warrant some sort of mindless activity which is absolutely lacking in substance.This should not be confused with lazinessor apathy. In fact, our generation is quite the opposite; we are more motivated than any generation since the Vietnam War for political change and more motivated than any generation ever towards social justice issues both domestic and abroad.Dane Cook is simply a short respite from these motivations and concerns.Whether justified or not, the reason college students everywhere are embracing these stupid things seems to be to (consciously or unconsciously) revert back to the 90s which, to them, was a time free of controversy but more importantly with comfort and reliability. Even if it’s just for a short time, Journey urges us to keep on believing, Dane waxes philosophical on car alarms and Michelle wins the soapbox derby.Stupid as they are, they still beat the hell out of a civil war in Iraq and any forms of standardized testing.