Cleaning out the wallet of American pop culture

by Brian Clarey

American culture is like a garage. No, wait ‘— it’s like your attic. No. Your wallet. American culture is like your wallet.

You’ve got some good stuff in there: your driver’s license, a couple credit cards, maybe a little cash or some pictures of your kids.

But there’s other stuff in there, too, stuff that maybe had some relevance in your life for a hot minute, significant enough, anyway, to warrant yanking out your wallet and shoving it in there: receipts for meals you forgot you ate; grand plans scrawled on cocktail napkins; gift cards with less than two dollars on them; contact information for people you forgot you met.

And then when you find occasion, you dump out your wallet and say, ‘“When did I go to Hooter’s?’”

Or something like that.

Culture is the same way. Every now and then you’ve got to go through it and throw away the things that just don’t make sense anymore.

And since no one else is stepping up to the plate for this task, I’ve decided to do it myself. What the hell? I’m a pundit.

Right off the bat I’ll say that people can no longer use the phrase ‘“where everybody knows your name’” to describe bars, coffee shops, adult bookstores or anywhere else where people congregate.

I say this because, for crying out loud, the show was on 20 years ago. There are people old enough to drink right now who have no idea what sport Mayday Malone played, let alone anything about the Hungry Heifer. We as a society need to let this phrase go the way of ‘“up your nose with a rubber hose.’”

And while I’m at it, I’m pulling the phrase ‘“best-kept secret,’” because I hear it so much it’s become meaningless and also, let’s face it, there are no secrets anymore. None worth keeping, anyway.

And I want to eliminate the word ‘“bling’” because it stops being cool when too many white people start using it. Same goes for ‘“pimp,’” ‘“pimpin’,’” ‘“pimped-out,’” ‘“pimp slap’” or most other variations on the word.

I am declaring that the Golden Era of celebrity babies is over. I think the publicists went to the well once too often on this one ‘— how are we supposed to apportion our collective joy when so many of our celebrities are reproducing at the same time? And it’s not fair that TomKat’s little alien love child might not get as much freakish, blind adoration as Shiloh, the offspring of Brangelina. (I myself am more interested in baby Shiloh because I’m not sure yet if it’s a boy or a girl, though either way it will be hot enough when it gets older to see more ass than a toilet seat.)

I am also thinning the ranks of relevant celebrities, using the same rules I do when I clean out my wallet.

Because I’m not sure exactly what she does, Paris Hilton is out. I’m chucking J-Lo because she hasn’t done anything for me in years. Ben Affleck is out because, let’s face it, I’m never gonna go back there. Burt Reynolds gets cut because he’s like a receipt that’s been in your pocket so long its unrecognizable. Keanu Reeves is a phone number with no name. P. Diddy is an expired coupon. Jennifer Aniston is a cardkey to a hotel room you stayed in so long ago you forget where it was.

And so on.

As topics of conversation, I’m eliminating energy drink preferences, reality show moments, the ‘“decadence’” of certain dessert dishes and also the high price of gasoline because when you get right down to it I just don’t care how much it costs to fill your giant Screwyoumobile. Also anything concerning real estate because I’m just so sick of talking about it.

I don’t want to hear about your Super Sweet Sixteen. I don’t care what your mom thinks about your blind date. I don’t want to talk about ‘“The Sopranos’” ‘— they jumped the shark as soon as they gave a recurring role to a character named ‘“Johnnycakes’” ‘— and nobody gives a crap how much weight you lost on Atkins.

Atkins is dead. Everybody’s fasting now.

Likewise, nobody cares about your hidden piercings, your MySpace layout, your TiVo or your blog.

I’m declaring an end to the hipster fauxhawk, cargo pants, Starbucks, ab machines, videotapes, un-ironic mustaches and Britney Spears.

It breaks my heart, Britney, but I’ve got to do it. Just be glad they’ll always have a place for you back in Louisiana, where former prom queens who marry inept pretty boys, pump out Irish twins by the time they turn 25 and Twinkie themselves into a pair of XL men’s sweatpants number in the thousands.

And that should do it. Doesn’t your cultural wallet feel slimmer and fit better in your pocket now? You should feel a difference in your lumbar region almost immediately.

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