As many of you know, for the past several months I have been in the employ of that ubiquitous red and khaki monstrosity known to the world as Target (cue the jokes about stocking shelves and/or comments about how much you love shopping there). As you might expect, working retail has no shortage of drawbacks – long hours, supervising high schoolers, having to spend nine hours a day at Target – just to name a few. But those aren’t the worst of it. Without a doubt, the three most unbearable, intolerable things about working for Target are, in no particular order: Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas.
At some point in the recent past, the Jonas Brothers sold their souls to Target (or perhaps it was the other way around) and the two have been joined at the barely post-pubescent hip ever since. Easily half of all merchandise purchased at Target bears the image of the brothers Jonas. If we expand the category to include Miley Cyrus and the cast of High School Musical, we’re talking close to 85% of all non-food purchases.
My reasons for hating these factory-created super-teens are myriad and righteous (my jealousy and bitterness are another matter). First and foremost is the daily misery of stocking shelves with throw pillows, trapper keepers, comforters, and under-roos all featuring the smugly self-satisfied faces of Joe, Nick, Kevin and their ilk. It is torture fit for rapists and murderers, not good-hearted, entry-level managers.
Yet more than they anger me, the Jonas Brothers depress me for they represent all that is soulless and wrong with modern Americana. There is something deeply disturbing about a fifteen year-old having the highest selling album of 2008. And lets be honest, we’re not talking about Mozart here. These are no child prodigies. They are completely normal, utterly ordinary teenagers who have been manufactured and packaged into a deliciously marketable super group.
The truth is, anyone could be the Jonas Brothers. They have not an ounce of artistic ability, aesthetic appeal, or personal charisma that could not be equaled or surpassed within six months by the average American teenager. The Jonas Brothers, and the other high priests of Cult Disney – like Hillary Duff before them – are not real people; they were fabricated in a boardroom by marketing executives with market trend reports and consumer response surveys. These kids were not discovered for their talent, they were created for their sales potential.
Why have we allowed this to happen? Why have we traded Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the alt rock of the late 90s for this? I will tell you. It is the same reason that we allow Tila Tequila, Flavor Flav, and The Kardashians to have their own television shows. It is the same phenomenon that allows The Hills to have a third season. Put simply, it is no longer important to us if famous people are famous for possessing above average levels of talent, beauty, wit, or wisdom. Instead, we prefer them to be less-talented, less-intelligent, less-admirable than ourselves. That way, instead of idolizing them for their wealth and fame, we can pity them for their sad, insignificant little lives.
Gone are the larger than life heroes of sport, music, or cinema who inspired a nation. In their place are deplorable divas, drunks, and douches who amuse us without eliciting the least bit of envy. We would rather scoff at Paris Hilton than admire Jimmy Stewart. We create our celebrities (i.e. American Idol) and we create them smaller than ourselves so we are spared the humility of wanting to be them.
That is why the Jonas Brothers are allowed to exist. And that is why they must be stopped.
I want to clarify that the primary culprits of this article are the Jonas Brothers. Miley Cyrus was mentioned several times to emphasize my points, but it should be known that I have a deep and abiding respect for Miss Cyrus both as an artist and as a person. In fact, it is possible that her song “See You Again” was played at my request in a crowded Chicago club last year. It is also possible that that was one of the proudest moments of my life.