Some things in life serve only to induce rage. No matter how small these annoyances may be, they are never insignificant. 'Rant List' is the chronicle of one self-loathing narcissist's seemingly unending pettiness.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

74. The music in Starbucks

^ I actually used one of those 'free iTunes tracks' cards from Starbucks the other week. The only thing worse than listening to The Kooks is realising that you willingly downloaded one of their songs because it was free.

In recent months, I have become a corporate whore with one of those job things and a desire to spend all my disposable income on unfairly priced consumables sold by big chains that are slowly but surely destroying our society. But rather than address my own willingness to conform to the consumerist dream, I’m going to pick on the bits I don’t like about these places like a spoilt brat with an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

It must be hard for Starbucks to source their music. I’m curious as to what supplier has such a wealth of indistinguishably cultural artists that are so inoffensive, they wouldn't be able to drown out the quietest of conversations - even if the conversation was two mice whispering secrets to each other and the music was played through a Spinal Tap amp on 11. It’s as if lift lobby muzak had an illegitimate child with the ‘Garden State’ soundtrack, only for the disadvantaged bastard to be adopted by Norah "I Am Disgracing My Dad, Ravi Shankar" Jones and Chris "Dontplay My Records, They're Abysmal" Martin. Every piece of music at Starbucks is more generic than the last, with each resounding note of the homogenised cultural mash-up further cementing the coffee chain as the epitome of cosmopolitan venues (and therefore, the meeting place of yuppies and Sex & The City fans alike).

I'm going to level with you, Starbucks. I don’t think pumping your coffee shops with pseudo-ethnic and adult contemporary music is convincing anyone that your business is anything but a big, fat, slobbering American monster with its chubby sausage fingers forcibly clutched around the throat and wallet of modern society. We know you’re all about the dollar and, frankly, I don’t think anyone cares anymore. Just be honest and we'll be honest with you. You want our money so you can take over the world and we want those Frappuccinos because they’re awesome. Mutually beneficial. No amount of smooth jazz is going to change that.

73. The term "sheeple" and the sheeple who use it

^ A flock of sheep much like the one above once prevented me from getting to work on time. True story. Living in Wales was a blast.

Let's get one thing out of the way here. I love making new words out of two old ones. Urban Dictionary, one of the greatest corners of the internet, is effectively founded on people artificially ramming together two words that don't get along. Terms like "brofessional", "carnevoyeur" and, of course, "overjaculation" stand as a testament to language's beautiful capacity to constantly evolve and adapt to new surroundings. Sort of.

My issue with "sheeple" is therefore not to do with someone slamming together sheep and people - the Welsh do that all the time*. My beef (...lamb?) stems more from the kind of people who use the word and the context within which they deploy their elitist put-down. Almost always veering on the "alt" side of life, they view the "norms" as "sheeple" because they "conform". If you don't make a blindingly shallow statement about yourself being slightly different from the rest of society, then you're just falling in line with the establishment without ever thinking for yourself. Obviously.

Now, I don't know what criteria this is generally based on, but as far as I can tell, if you've never worn an Anarchy A t-shirt in your life, then you're probably a sheeperson (clearly no thought went in to a singular form of the word). If you don't have a slightly off-key haircut, then you're probably a sheeperson. If you've never listened to at least some of the collected works of System of a Down, you're probably a sheeperson. The delicious irony in all this is the fact that to not be part of the sheeple - the flock unable to make their own decisions, instead damned to mindlessly conform to the standards of society - you must because an alternative stereotype, unable to make your own decisions about other people and instead damned to mindlessly conform to the standards of your contemporaries' idiocy.

If you're going to start stereotyping large groups of people, just make sure you're not also part of an equally idiotic stereotype.


*I just burnt myself there.