I’ll Get You Next Time, Costner: Recon From The Culture Wars

Posted: August 4, 2010 in Culture, Music
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been reeling for a couple of days.

I woke up Sunday with a noble purpose. Infiltrate an enemy camp, isolate the most dangerous thespian of our time, and lay mighty waste to his vulnerable bits with the Thunder Staff of Walrus. I had a cover for this mission; my daughter’s dance class was performing on the family stage at a major musical event and Kevin Costner (shudder) would be performing at the same event.

How did Costner rate a spot on my very exclusive people-who-must-be-erased-as-though-they-never-existed list? By being the career killer of some of the finest actors of the last half century.

It’s true. Every movie that Killer Kev has had anything to do with in the past decade or so has been littered with supporting casts made up of the most talented aged actors alive. And then, once the smell of burning celluloid and traumatized moviegoers has dissipated, those actors are never seen again.

And yet, somehow, the Costner marches on, tainting everything around him with that most noxious and pervasive of evils, Blandness.

This is a real (read: not made up) Genuine condition. The Costner effect is so insidious, in fact, that no one even remembers the names of the actors it’s affected. Unless you look them up on IMDB. Which I’m too lazy to do. You’ll just have to trust me; after all, I am the Walrus.


The one obstacle to my holy mission was the location of my prey. He and his army were entrenched behind ramparts so doomnificent that DOOM! had beheld them and ran screaming for its mommy. It was a place that sane men fear to tread, brave men’s bowels liquefy before and madmen compose sonnets to. In order to bring down my wrath of furious vengeance I had to go to a…country music festival.

(wolves howl in despair)

My cause being just and the knowledge that brownie points would be earned by accompanying my family into the belly of the beast (also, that future therapy bills could be avoided by taking part in my daughter’s extracurricular activities) bolstering my courage, I set off to do battle with my nemesis.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t done my research and Kevin Costner had performed on Friday, two nights earlier, thus escaping his horrific defeat.


I’ve never understood the appeal of country music. I moved to Alberta from Ottawa, which is a bastion of live rock, and I’ve never quite adjusted to how prevalent the love of twang is out West.

Was I a little terrified of the Big Valley Jamboree? Absolutely.

I’ve seen American History X and Brokeback Mountain so I considered myself reasonably versed in what to expect. But I had no choice; my daughter is three and there’s apparently some sort of parental commandment that says, “Thou shalt not destroy the heart of your child by not showing up until she has told you to fuck off at least twice.”

Now, just so you understand, it wasn’t the music itself that had me apprehensive. It was the idea of being in an isolated rural community surrounded by 40000 people who like country music. You’ve got to remember, I’m a half Jewish, one 16th black pudgeball who is against bible stories being taught in science class and is pro gay marriage (if for no better reason than I think that institutionalized monogamy is something that should be inflicted on everyone equally).

Clearly I would need a muzzle and a disguise.

Minutes after we arrived I procured, in the form of an eight dollar cowboy hat (in which I look like a low functioning mental hospital escapee) my disguise. Hotdogs proved an adequate muzzle and, shockingly, except for a strange aftertaste I’ve decided to call “hillbilly aftershave,” they tasted no different than their counterparts at a normal concert. Armed with camouflage and protected against saying stupid things that would get me noticed and/or lynched, I set forth to observe the enemy in his natural habitat.

These were my findings.

1) Most people who wear cowboy hats are not real cowboys. In fact, real cowboys would most likely dropkick these people to the ground, pee on them and, under extremely heightened circumstances, possibly have some less than consensual sex with them. I’d hoped that, while wearing a cowboy hat myself, I would develop some sort of appreciation for it. I’d now like to appreciate it on fire.

2) Unzipped, unbuttoned booty shorts are apparently the new miniskirt. I saw this look no fewer than six times over the course of the day. My barometer for trashiness has apparently been broken because ladies, I approve. This completely eliminates an entire step from the strategies of the make out session. Also, I’m telling your parents.

3) Crude T-Shirt slogans are apparently required. Some fine examples from the day included; “I’m two chicks short of a threesome,” “Don’t worry ladies, I pull out,” and “I’ve got the pussy, so I make the rules.” I realized my disguise was woefully inadequate so I rushed to a t-shirt stand but, in a cruel twist of irony, they didn’t have any copies of “I don’t need a licence for these guns” in anything larger than a medium.

4) Not even babies like fiddle music. The Hyperactive Aryan Partridge Klan (not their actual name) produced a reaction in my infant son that I’d never heard before. It sounded like a herd of baby seals being thrown into lobster pots.

5) Speaking of horrible sounds; taking a classic rock tune, adding some steel string guitar, a little whining and enough twang to bale hay does not make the song better. It doesn’t make it country either. It just makes you a karaoke singer with a larger audience. (And not really all that much larger. What the hell is American Idol if not karaoke minus alcohol, balls and comedic value?) Nobody should be forced to pay to hear you butcher CCR. If I see you again I may have to…mutter…mutter…sigh.

6) That stereotype about country being depressing? Anyone who tells me that’s not true is going to get pantsed. At one point a singer explained that the inspiration for one of his songs had come from his grandfather dying of emphysema. Cheery.

7) Contrary to what movies had led me to expect, nobody was riding horses or mechanical bulls. Weird.

Other than that…well, it was a concert. Like any other concert that has terrible music that people inexplicably love. I’m looking at you, Slipknot.

I came in expecting something incredibly alien and bizarre. You know what? That sums up just about every corner of fandom, anywhere. Country fans are just cosplay geeks of the first order. They wear silly costumes, engage in weird rituals, hump the crap out of each other in any semi-secluded shrubbery and, when they’re taking breaks from all that, they eat the exact same crappy food that’s served at every single other musical event across this continent. Not really any different from the Edge Fest weekends I went to when I was young and “single” and still thought that advanced STD dodging was a sport. Except we had better music.

It was a fun day in hell. I got to watch my daughter melt hearts by hugging the three-year old beside her on stage, discover that popcorn has a spray radius of twelve feet when wielded by a toddler and reaffirm the superiority of my musical tastes.

Would I go again?

1) If I was better disguised, paid to be there and clinically deaf, sure.


2) If Costner shows up.

I’ll get you next time, Costner. Next time.

I’m petting my evil kitty now.


  1. MissStef says:

    “It’s like Lilith Fair minus the angst… plus frittatas!” or, plus the angst minus the Fair. … I just read the first paragraph.

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