On April 21, CBS broadcast Let's Go Crazy: The Grammy Greetings to Prince, a concert special recorded to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Prince's death. The concert was recorded on January 28, two days after the Grammys aired, and is a relapse into our pre-pandemic world of live entertainment (at that time). However, our current public health crisis has not only given Let & # 39; s Crazy a new relevance. it also reinforced its intended purpose: to emphasize that there is really no artist like Prince and few icons of pop culture that can stimulate the imagination of so many people.
We are now used to how pop culture has fragmented along with our interests. Brands are bigger than stars, and few franchise companies – most of them owned by Disney – can reliably get the vast majority of the public to talk. Shared experiences have not really died out. We still have big sports broadcasts like the Super Bowl, viral sensations on streaming platforms like Tiger King, and occasional prestige series that get a lot of attention (like the first season of Westworld). They're just rarer.
But with our world at a standstill, pop culture is one of the few things we still have to share with others. The mass culture of the decades before the 21st century no longer exists. Instead, we collect memories of it: legendary sports games like the Rose Bowl 2006, festive concerts like Let & # 39; s Go Crazy and in ESPN's The Last Dance about the life of Michael Jordan.
The last dance is a particularly surreal thing to watch during lockdown. The 10-part documentary follows Jordan during his 1997/98 basketball season with the Chicago Bulls, which would be his last before his second retirement from sport and his last season with the Bulls. Throughout the series, recourse is taken to the beginnings of Jordan's life and career, and then to recent interviews with Jordan and those who knew him or who followed his remarkable journey (including "former Chicago" Barack Obama).
As a documentary, The Last Dance is a kind of superficial film that relies heavily on the fact that Jordan was an unprecedented superstar with a notoriety that is difficult to grasp once you have lived through it. This point is easy to impress. In a memorable piece of archive news, a little girl tells a reporter that her parents said, "Do you want Christmas presents under the tree or do you want to see Michael Jordan?" The implication is, of course, that she is very happy to "see Michael Jordan". Which child wouldn't take the chance to see the Space Jam star?
It takes time to filter things we process in the real world into entertainment
Let & # 39; s Go Crazy is similarly simple: the concert is not particularly complex and uncomplicated, but it is not very convincing because it really is not necessary. Prince just made damn good music that a lot of people loved, and when he watched St. Vincent, the Foo Fighters, Miguel and Gary Johnson on the cover, music is hell of fun – especially when you hear Dave Grohl say that Prince is his band Cover has heard. "Darling Nikki" once and didn't like it at all.
As the pandemic continues to change the world, it also highlights the way it has been changed. Pop culture hasn't really reflected this, mostly because it takes some time for the things we process in the real world to flow into our conversation. We got some insights, especially in the compromises made to ensure that the show continues to go on in a socially distant way: films that skip theaters and are on demand, stars that stream performances from their living rooms, interviews is managed via zoom.
Our entertainment quickly adapted to the new normal of the world, but the way it reminds us of the old remains uncomfortable at best. When we see Let & # 39; s Go Crazy or The Last Dance, we can remember another era in which we can grieve what we have lost and what we may never get back.