“The commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of August 16, 1977 seemed more than anything a media mirage churned up by Graceland smoke machines. A Graceland spokesman had recently discussed the problem facing the operation: if Elvis Presley was indeed immortal, his fans were not. Many of Elvis’s original fans were dying off; if the enormously successful marketing of Elvis Presley over the last twenty-five years were to continue, they would have to be replaced by people who were not even born when Elvis Presley died.” Greil Marcus
—Elvis AgainThreepenny Review)
It’s not often that you read an article about the decline of a pop culture phenomenon, unless it’s simply a passing reference like, “Whatever happened to Garbage Pail Kids?” At the beginning of a literature course, I enjoy telling my students that the movies and recording stars that seem to be the center of their world right now — and that may seem much more interesting than the “old” works we well be studying in class — will soon be as dated as the pop culture icons that were canonical among youth when I was an undergrad. During the 80s, the “cool” kids watched Miami Vice and lyp synched to Falco’s “Rock Me, Amadeus.” And when I’m in a nursing home, they will try to placate me by piping in Muzak versions of Michael Jackson and Madonna songs. The horror! The horror!