Let’s be honest: reality television dominates American screens, and almost everyone says it’s the end of Western civilization. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have nineteen children (“19 Kids and Counting,” courtesy of the Duggar family and TLC), be a redneck millionaire from duck-call sales (“Duck Dynasty” on A&E), revamp your failing restaurant, bar, or tattoo parlor (on Spike TV), or live in a beach house with a crew of self-styled guidos (you guessed it), reality television can provide a glimpse into another life.
When the science-fiction film Soylent Green was released in 1973, critics celebrated everything about it except the premise. New York Times film critic A.H. Weiler declared that the movie’s twenty-first century setting was “occasionally frightening but…rarely convincingly real.” How could a population unwittingly eat and enjoy human remains in the form of the popular food product, Soylent Green? Unfortunately, the parallels between this sci-fi classic and modern corporate food production would cause Mr. Weiler to spit out his hamburger in disbelief. In March 2012, ABC News led the media in breaking the story of a company, Beef Products Inc., that takes slaughterhouse byproducts, throws them in a centrifuge, and squeezes out the ground remains through a tube of ammonium hydroxide.
“Oh, that’s just my hearing aid,” Jim Reid slurred in response to the shrill attack of feedback that emanated from the stage in a lull between songs. It’s true that The Jesus and Mary Chain are no longer the Wayfarer-wearing Scottish troublemakers of their youth, but at the 9:30 Club, they certainly knew how to, as they say, bring the noise. Even seasoned clubgoers and fans in the back were holding their ears shut in pain, and the club might have made as much in ear plug sales as they did in alcohol that night. This, of course, is part of the charm.