One pet peeve of mine is an oxymoron that is hardly mentioned when one brings up a list of oxymorons: “instant classic.” Part of the reason I’m upset is that because many people do not even realize that it is an oxymoron. But the main reason is because people are either watering down the definition of the word “classic,” elevating the mundane, hastily rushing to judgement (like that ever happens on the internet), or all of the above. I won’t apologize for under-utilizing the word “classic”, because there are some words that are not meant to be used haphazardly. I most also note this is not the same as me not using a common, everyday word because of certain people abusing the definition to justify their own perverse sense of justice.
A question that I have been asking for years is, “how long does one have to wait before something can be called a “classic”? I have not reached a consensus amongst those I have asked. Sadly, I have gone back-and-forth with my own opinion. At this moment, the only definitive answer I have reached is that the answer greatly depends on the subject matter.
Take sports for example. At first glance, it may appear that sports is the biggest abuser of them all. The opposite is the case however. The sports world happens to have a great sense of recognition. Sure, they are guilty of hype and over hype. (I won’t mention any particular sports networks – who the hell am I kidding, sure I will.) But when an event, or moment ever reaches or even surpass the hype, fans and pundits can call it like they see it, and they are right on the money. Also, to their credit, when something is a dud, anti-climatic, or plain unremarkable, sports is not afraid to simply move on to the next “big thing.” Most sports have a mandatory wait time before a person is eligible for their respective Hall of Fame. So sports is just as confused as me. They have no qualms of immediately labeling a team’s season, a game, or a moment as a classic, but insist on reserving judgement for an individual’s career.
Then there is the case of rock (and pop) music. I am particularly referring to the radio stations whose format is listed as “classic rock,” or “oldies.” They have a most unique problem. As newer songs are being added to their playlists, (as of the time of this posting, newer is being defined as songs from the late 80’s and early 90’s, older songs have suddenly stopped being classic… or, I guess… um, oldie? This is the results of radio stations trying to attract the younger half of the prized 25-56 demographic. It does create a quasi-philosophical question: what is something that is neither too old for “oldie”, but younger than “golden oldie?” What is something too old to be “classic” but not old enough, or right genre, to be called “classical?” My best guess: a classic clusterfuck.
A popular parlor/bar game is looking back and noticing how the major award shows such as the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys can continuously snub works or talent that had stood the test of time over and over again. It took me awhile, but I have gotten over the entire awards season. I don’t get angry or wonder what the hell the voters were thinking. If the population at large can’t even handle something simple such as voting in reality television, how can we get upset at a small number of anonymous electors that are supposed experts in the field? What bothers me is the notion that winning such an award is equivalent to some sort of apotheosis or deification of sed winner. Even though most of us quickly forget the winner of the previous year’s award. If something can be forgotten so quickly, how can it be deemed worthy of immortality? We have a word for that already, it’s called “trivia.”
I guess the answer lies within the world of fashion. I admit, this is a weak subject of my repertoire of general knowledge. But when it comes to fashion, I do know this: there are some things that are classic because they never go out of style. And there are some that will never come back in style, because even if they were considered stylish the first time around, they were never in style. All we have to do is find a fashion designer and ask her or him just how long it takes for something to be considered timeless, or classic.