The fat lady has sung
It seems fair to consider today's American society to be part of the Modern Age. Sure, we don't have flying cars yet, but I think the political, sociological, and technological infrastructures here are more than sufficient for us to consider ourselves modern. In a similar fashion, I think that we are living in the modern era in the world of entertainment. Naturally, artists and entertainers are still doing their best to find new and creative ways to stimulate the senses. Yet, the basic knowledge of what things tickle peoples' fancies, as well as the technology used in making music, movies, etc., is pretty well established.
That having been said, I've noticed that we have a lot of completely useless forms of entertainment that were at one time popular but are at the moment surviving only to preserve tradition. Now don't get me wrong ? some traditional things are fine and well, but it's silly to hang on to an art or entertainment form just because people liked it hundreds of years ago. Instead, I think that as upstanding citizens of this modern era, we should let go of the past and support the elimination of superfluous media. Here are two of them.
The first up on my list is a fairly easy target: the opera. I'd include ballet in this complaint, but my sister dances ballet and hate mail from a close relative is much worse than the normal hate mail I get. Anyway, it is crystal clear that it is time to close the book on the opera game. Back in the 1800s, or whenever it first started (I don't have a research budget), I'm sure opera was top-notch. I bet they even had scalpers at all the top European houses. Back then, all of the classic composers were at the top of their games (I'm making this up, but it seems reasonable. They must have had a heyday at some point, right?). But, let's face facts, it's 2005. We have PlayStation 2, where the controllers vibrate when your character gets hit. We've all seen [ITAL]Star Wars[ITAL] and [ITAL]The Matrix[ITAL]. There have been 50 years of recorded rock music. With such modern electronic wonders available, it just isn't possible that high-pitched ([ITAL]very[ITAL] high-pitched) singing in a foreign language is reeling in a whole lot of youngsters these day. It's unclear to me, personally, why it ever was in vogue, but that's beside the point. Furthermore, it seems very unlikely that many of the great young musical minds of today have opera on their minds. Thus, I propose that the opera community should just simply call it quits. No more performances, no more compositions, and most importantly, no pretentious monocle-wearing people having to pretend that they find it enjoyable. Hold a press conference and say, "Look, it was a good run, but we've realized that opera is outdated and it's time for us to move on. Thanks for your support over the years. It's been fun."
Maybe opera could even hang on for a while longer in Italy or something like that, just to satisfy the traditionalists. Or maybe just have a museum that nobody visits. Either way, it's time to stop acting like having a relatively unpopular thing like opera around gives us "culture," everyone's favorite code word for boring.
Sports, both televised and live, are major players in modern entertainment. The Big Three (football, basketball, baseball, hockey) are all over the network and cable airwaves ? football basically approaches the level of national religion when it's in full swing. With those and a handful of other excellent niche sports, fans of athletic competition have more than enough to keep themselves busy. So, why on Earth is boxing still around? The early popularity of boxing is not hard to understand ? it was easier for old-time sportsmen to grasp the concept of beating their opponents senseless than to worry about full counts and first downs. Plus, it was one of the first popular televised sports (along with pro wrestling) simply because it was easy to film. But now that we have our well-designed modern games and broadcasting techniques, there's really no need for prizefighting to continue just because it used to be popular. The sport's visibility has been waning pretty much since [ITAL]Rocky IV[ITAL] ? I doubt anyone reading this can even name the heavyweight champion of the world at the moment (no, it isn't Mike Tyson) despite the fact that there are roughly eight of them.
It's clear that 21st century sports fans prefer the more refined violence of the gridiron, where although it is often advantageous to concuss your opponent, it's not actually required to achieve victory. The solution to boxing's fading hold on sports fans is clear ? simply get rid of it. Trust me, no one other than pay-per-view executives and casino owners are going to notice. Get with the opera people and coordinate press conferences if you like. The "sweet science," as boxing is often bizarrely called (it's neither sweet nor scientific), should just ride off into the sunset, and its participants' brain cells will forever thank them.
The powers-that-be in the realms of opera and boxing, I'm asking you sincerely: Give it a rest. We have plenty of great entertainment options, thanks, and things will be much easier on us all if you stop trying to be relevant. For sure, there are tons of other "classic" forms of entertainment that have had their moment in the sun and should think about retirement. I could have written this entire column about circuses, since pretty much any elephant-based diversion is going to be a bit antiquated. Plus, I've restricted myself to things popular in the relatively untraditional U.S. ? Lord only knows what sort of outdated arts and entertainment is foisting itself on the rest of the world. I think that most unpopular forms of entertainment will eventually go away out of public apathy, but I say that's not soon enough.