What’s with this ubiquitous pseudo-Beatlemania?


Once again, I am puzzled by Beatlemania.

The first time, I was living in Guayaquil, Ecuador in early 1964. Communicating with the States — or Britain, for that matter — was a cumbersome affair, hardly speedier than in the Napoleonic era that I enjoy reading about in those books I’m always on about (just finished reading The Fortune of War for the fourth time). The only television we had was one local station that was only on the air from about 4 in the afternoon until 10 at night, and ran mostly American cartoons and TV shows dubbed into Spanish. Imagine being an Ecuadorean and trying to grok “The Beverly Hillbillies” with Granny and Jethro speaking Spanish out of sync with their lips, and you will begin to see the roots of whatever appreciation for the absurd that I today possess. For our part, we didn’t bother — we left our TV set gathering dust down in the bodega with the shelves of canned goods ordered from the Navy Exchange in Panama, for the entire two-and-a-half years we were there.

But we did occasionally see The Miami Herald, although generally a couple of weeks late. And it was on the front page of one of these old papers that I saw the shouting banner headline, “Beatles Hit Miami,” or something like that. I thought it referred to an insect infestation of Biblical proportions, given the huge play.

Eventually, I figured it out, and was entranced. My Beatles fanhood in those early days was probably intensified by the difficulty of keeping up with the Fab Four at a distance. I occasionally found a 45 for sale in a local tienda (I think my first was “Love Me Do”), and I still treasure the first album I ever owned, an Odeon release titled, “La Banda Original de la Pelicula ‘A Hard Days Night.”

Anyway, to bring you to the present day — I fear that I am fated to remain confused by the most recent manifestation of Beatlemania. Or perhaps I should say “alienated” rather than “confused,” because I sort of understand it, but am put off by it. This one is different.

This one doesn’t arise spontaneously, up from below. It’s not a cry of love from the fans. It seems a calculated effort to impose enthusiasm upon a new generation, imposed from above by the masters of the marketing universe.

Note the display I photographed moments ago in the Barnes & Noble from which I am blogging. Not that I’m criticizing Barnes & Noble; I love Barnes & Noble as Winston loved Big Brother. Drinking wonderful Starbucks coffee, listening to “Instant Karma” via Pandora, sitting near a foreign chap wearing a T-shirt that proclaims “FREEDOM AND EQUALITY FOR PALESTINE” who looked furtively about him as he sat, seemingly expecting someone to challenge or argue with him or something, and in another direction a cute schoolgirl bent low doing her homework with an ipod in her ears, who kindly watched my laptop while I ran to the head… WHOA! The caffeine seems to have taken hold… where was I?

Oh, yes… nothing against Barnes & Noble. And certainly nothing against Starbucks; my slavish affection for Starbucks is well-documented. But both are very much apart of this vast commercial conspiracy to market the Beatles like mad, all of a sudden.

Is it really all prompted by the release of a video game? That’s the way it appears. I know it’s not a plot by Michael Jackson, who sneakily snapped up the rights to the Beatles’ songs years ago, because I seem to have heard that he is no longer among the living. It got quite a bit of play, as I recall.

So what’s it all about, Alfie? And how should a true Beatles fan react?

9 thoughts on “What’s with this ubiquitous pseudo-Beatlemania?

  1. kbfenner

    “This one doesn’t arise spontaneously, up from below. It’s not a cry of love from the fans. It seems a calculated effort to impose enthusiasm upon a new generation, imposed from above by the masters of the marketing universe.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s like the Marilyn “Seven Year Itch” posters, the Audrey Hepburn “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” stuff, the many things Mickey and Elvis–there’s bucks to be squeezed from them!

    I suppose it’s no different from classical and jazz record labels reissuing old recordings because people will readily buy them, instead of cultivating, and taking a risk on, new performers.

  2. RalphHightower

    It could be prompted by a video game. There is the “remastered” series.

    However, driving a car with XM Radio, cycling between Deep Tracks, Classic Vinyl, & Classic Rewind. I’ll jump to Grateful Dead or E-Street radio, or other XM Classic channels if it’s not something that I’m interested in.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    Whilst driving cross-country, I picked up the “remastered” Abby Road. Other than a boomier bass, sounds about the same.

  4. bud

    Maybe bud is hoping for federal job as Lifestyle Czar, even if it is only Richland County.

    Where do I sign up. First thing I’d do is legalize marijuana. Pretty harmless plant with some medicinal value. What say you Mr. Muller?

    Next, I’d bring back video poker. Taxing it would help with the county/city budget problems. And it would provide an entertainment outlet for many.

    Then, let’s get rid of all these stupid prohibitions on prostitution, pornography and other victimless crime. How ridiculous is it that we lock people away for simply exercising their freedom to do as they want with their body and money.

  5. Bart

    bud, couldn’t agree with you more but we actually don’t need to worry about some items on your list. They are already pseudo-legal.

    Every election cycle we send an entire body of prostitutes to local court house, state house, senate, and governor’s mansion. Legalize it, heck, it florishes in Columbia anyway.

    Pornography – just listen to some of the speeches and comments to the media from the prostitutes in all three branches of government. Showing men and women having uninhibited sex is mild compared to the spending orgies these people engage in on a regular basis.

    Legalize marijuana? These guys MUST be on the harmless little plant. They never make much sense and offend the hell out of the citizens of this state every day. It must be plentiful on the house and senate floor. Maybe Sanford brought some primo stuff back from his trip South. He sure acts as if he is smoking something.

    Video poker? Why not? We have legalized gambling in the form of the lottery which is a voluntary tax anyway so why not put another one in place for the population to enjoy without complaining about being over taxed? Besides, the “C” store owners and operators don’t make enough money off sundry items selling for double and triple what they sell for in a supermarket. Undo some of the damage inflicted by Beasley.

    Keeping people out of jail works for me. If we don’t have to spend tax money to keep people in jail for prostitution, gambling, drugs, and other minor crimes, the budget could be balanced in short order. We could reduce the size of police forces, keep expensive vehicles parked, turn the lights off in large areas of jails and prisons, fewer judges, and a long list of other cost savings would be available. Economically, it does make perfect sense.

    I think you’re on to
    something. 🙂 🙂 🙂


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