The end of disco ruined American culture

I joked on Twitter the other day that a world that allowed disco to die is inherently evil. While “evil” might be a bit of a stretch, I really do believe that American culture (and not just American culture, but that’s the one I know best, being American) has suffered ever since disco’s demise in the early ’80s. Here are a couple things we know about disco:

1) It’s fun

2) It’s diverse.

Studio Portrait of the Village People

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Disco was created by people of all races, genders, and orientations. Women and men alike sang; blacks, whites, and Latinos danced in the same clubs. Women sang freely about their sexual desires. LGBT people not only found clubs they could dance in with each other, but also found mainstream success. I can’t think of a single popular band today as diverse as the Village People – both racially and based on sexual orientation. During the disco era, people really were hopeful that everything was getting better. Then Reagan and wolves of Wall Street came in, shat on everything, and set us back decades.

The “disco sucks” movement was tinged with homophobia and led to an era of rock music dominated by straight white men. Yes, I love KISS and Motley Crue, but get real – rock and roll since the ’80s has been almost exclusively the provenance of straight white men. The “disco sucks” movement told black and LGBT people and women to stop singing, stop dancing, stop having so much goddamned fun.

Ah yes, fun. Disco was all about fun. Clubs with extravagant light displays, musical groups that didn’t take themselves too seriously, costumes ranging from divine to ridiculous, and bold dancing were all mainstays of the ’70s disco movement. But then fun was frowned upon, and ironic detachment and a “too cool” attitude reigned supreme in American culture – and has ever since. Today, disco is derided as tacky and lame. Fashion has reached an all-time low point of creativity and color. Every man I know wears the same outfit, and almost nobody wears prints outside of your basic flannel. The “cool” music among my peers is still mopey indie rock (I guess? Sometimes I don’t know what people actually LIKE because disliking stuff is apparently cooler).

I love Nirvana, and yet I believe their influence has generally been harmful. The glamorization of depression and suicide is dangerous for impressionable teens and 20-somethings. The music you listen to DOES matter. When I was listening to a lot of Nirvana and The Mars Volta in high school, I started to realize that I became less happy, less social. A friend of mine who was extremely depressed in college was advised by her therapist to stop listening to Jeff Buckley. While I think there certainly is a time for sad music that you can identify with when you’re feeling low, there’s also a need for joyous music that helps you feel great. Dancing lifts your spirits. When you’re having a crummy day, put on a song that makes you want to move and 9 out of 10 times, you’ll feel better.

I’m dying to see a return to fun in America. I want to see America dance without derision, to dress differently without being labeled “tacky” or “trashy” (just classist terms invented by yuppies, anyhow). I’m sick of a culture that praises ironic detachment, where everyone’s in a battle for who can care less and the mark of coolness is is being the asshole in all black, sitting in the corner making fun of everyone dancing. Having fun is one of the greatest parts of being alive, and I’m gonna keep doing it – and looking great and dancing to disco ’til I die.

Song of the Day: Gods and Monsters

This is probably my favorite Lana del Rey song and I once listened to it for about ten hours on repeat on a flight back from China. There’s something in me that bristles at the idea of finding a Lana del Rey song meaningful, but there are two lines I love:

No-one’s gonna take my soul away

Living like Jim Morrison.

While I don’t exactly advocate living like Jim Morrison – 27 is two years away and I have a fuckton more than two years left in me – I like the essence of freedom and individuality it conveys. As for the first line, I wasn’t even aware until I’d heard it that it’s essentially the guiding force in how I live my life. When I first moved to LA to be an actress I thought I might be the type of person who took any role, no matter how shitty, and I’d be happy to “sell out” if I ever had the opportunity. Over the last four years I’ve realized I can’t be that type of person, even if I want to. I can’t spend my time doing things I don’t love. My life can’t be about putting average work into the world. I can’t advocate for things I don’t believe in. No-one’s going to take my soul away.

Song of the Day: Vision of Salomé

The song I’m obsessed with today – Vision of Salomé by i Salonisti. It’s classical that takes you on a short, beautiful journey.

I met my mom for a big lunch:

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And then she had to run to a meeting so now I’m finishing it by myself and listening to this song! Nothing better than a delicious, leisurely lunch of vegan grilled cheese, split pea soup, and coffee. It almost makes these temperatures bearable:

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Almost.

18 Reasons 2013 Was Pretty Great

In order to combat that feeling of “oh shit, what did I do this year? IS MY LIFE PASSING ME BY? I’M OLD” I decided to compile this list of cool shit that happened or that I did in 2013. Let me make something clear – this is not me bragging. I made a pitifully small amount of money, made practically no headway in my career, and I didn’t lose any weight or get a boyfriend. But I scored some victories and I pushed outside of my comfort zone so I’m going to throw my 2013 a tiny internet party.

1) I went to China for two weeks.

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2) I started my own standup show, Minotaur.

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3) Did some modeling for the first time in years.

ERIKA (116)test

 

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4) Got back into making music!

Here’s an EDM song I made with some other guys – my vocals come in at 1:54

And I did a crazy Halloween rap as the Wicked Witch of the West.


5) Started taking free online classes with Coursera. By now I’ve studied nuclear science, dinosaurs, archaeology, JFK, international criminal justice, climate science, and much more! It was nice to be reminded that I actually do have a brain. I do, I swear.

6) I went camping in Yosemite (and Spring Mill State Park!) with my mom.

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7) I went to Six Flags, Disneyland, AND Disney World.

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8) I swam in the Atlantic. And posted a photo of myself without makeup on on the internet.

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9) I had an intense spiritual experience. All I can really say is it involved a hallucinogen that I support 100% but don’t really think I should talk about on the internet. If you email me I’ll tell you about it if you want to know.

10) All together I spent about a month and a half with my 4-year-old brother and 2-year-old sister.

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11) I put up a 30-minute show at UCB that I wrote and starred in. (Also you might notice I’m paired with Noel Wells, who is now on SNL. Yeah that’s kinda crazy)

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12) Started taking dance classes again, and doing pole dance for the first time ever. It’s challenging, fun, and sexy. I fucking love it.

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13) I saw a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. I was really far away but still, when Maven gets to Mars I will know I was there at the beginning.

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14) Did some fun things with my appearance – bought some huge earrings, started getting acrylic nails, got more ear piercings, cut thick bangs, grew out bangs, put some black lowlights(?) in my hair after several years of keeping everything pretty much the same.

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15) Learned to knit!

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16) Met my idol, Megatherium (10,000 year old, 4,000 pound ground sloth that lived in North America) and saw the exhibit on the Columbian Exposition at the Field Museum in Chicago.

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17) Volunteered – fostered a cat and started writing letters to prisoners through WriteaPrisoner.org. This picture makes it look like the cat actually wrote the letters.

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18) Got really shitfaced drunk for the first time. Threw up like a motherfucker. Went to goth dance club. Went on dates with people from the internet. Made out with somewhat gross people in public. Kissed a girl. Listened to hours of dubstep, 365 days a year. Got my weed card. Threw up from too much use of said weed card. Basically just some real risk-taking behavior.

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The real reason I wrote this post is I saw this one I wrote last year – https://funwithvintage.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/12-things-i-did-in-2012-to-make-my-life-better/ and I realized that I have come SO FAR. Last year I was working on basic happiness, confidence, and social skills and this year I finally worked on having fun, being spontaneous and adventurous, and telling my fears to fuck right off. So I may not have gotten on a harold team (it’s an improv thing) or gotten on a TV show or fallen in love or accumulated any savings or gotten in fantastic shape…. or gone to space or climbed Machu Picchu or seen a ghost or flown a helicopter or met a whale… but I did have some highlights. 24 was kind to me, and it was way better than 21 or 22 or 23. I’m turning 25 tomorrow (the 30th) and it’s weird but I’m ready.