Friday, August 7, 2009

The Art of Cheese

Why do we listen to KISS? Yes, I’m talking about the rock band that performs in wild star child, cat, warrior and spaceman makeup and studded leather. I’m talking about the band no one paid any attention to until they put on the makeup and when in the 80s they took it off, we screamed to God on high for them to put it back on because we had forgotten how intensely ugly they were.

I was around 12 years old when KISS exploded in popularity and while I never joined the KISS army, I did read some of their literature. I had the albums like all my friends and we debated whose makeup was cooler. Even now 30 years later I pull their greatest hits CD out and enjoy a listen. My question is why, because if you pay attention while you’re listening, they’re not very good. They’re not great musicians, the music is simple and an elementary school student could write better lyrics. Sure, little Billy’s verses wouldn’t have as much overt sexuality as Gene Simmons’ but they would have better rhyming structure.

So why do we like cheese? No, not tasty Muenster or Gouda, I mean music and movies and television shows that we know aren’t high on the art scale but we enjoy them all the same. For example, I really like the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. But the acting wasn’t the greatest after you get past Patrick Stewart and my brother and I can punch plot holes in the scripts like we’ve shot it with an AK-47. When they did a “message” episode they beat you like the proverbial dead horse, buried you, dug you back up and beat you some more. You screamed “I get it! Message received!” but the blows just kept coming. Still, its one of my all time favorite TV shows.

I guess the simplest answer is these shows and music give us something we’re looking for. They provide an escape and while we’re in our little off-kilter world we can overlook the things they don’t do very well. We use them for our amusement but never admit our addiction.

With Star Trek: TNG there was the obvious desire to flit among the stars as easily as I now drive to the Wal-Mart for cat litter and I liked the characters and the way they interacted with each other. I think I would have enjoyed hanging around with them.

This brings us back to KISS. For me the facileness of the music is actually a plus in this case. I like simple hard rock guitar riffs and a good back beat. While I’m jamming with Ace Frehley I can ignore the ridiculous lyrics and the taint of machismo that comes off of every song like an incontinent musk ox.

It turns out cheese can be good for you. I mean, don’t sit down and listen to 9 straight hours of European power metal or watch the entire series run of Bosom Buddies right away. You have to ease into it. But when your tolerance is built up, invite Buffy and Hildegard into your home and serve them up with a delicious plate of Feta and Havarti.

1 comment:

  1. One of the nicest things about life is that just like people, things do not have to be perfect for us to find joy in them. We can enjoy the colors in a painting even if the form is off or the tune of a song even if the words are off. A mindless prat fall can make us laugh just as much as a carefully crafted punchline sometimes. I agree with you that everyone should enjoy a little cheese from time to time, and we need to remember that while some people like Gouda, others enjoy good old American. We're lucky that there is enough "cheese" to satisfy many different palates.