“Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us…”
Kurt Kobain was a genius. Yes, I went there. And I don’t mean genius the way hipsters ironically call Taylor Swift or Justin Timberlake genius. Because they aren’t. Really.
Or genius in the way we mercifully characterize Woody Allen’s later work. I mean Kobain was a bona fide, certified musical genius.
In 1991, we were waiting on a relevant word. A meaningful word. A word of substance from anyone who would dare to speak it into existence.
As a culture, we had been disco-ed, break-danced, and speed-metaled into a coma. We were collectively hung over from all the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll from monster ballads and heavy metal. We’d chewed as much bubblegum pop as we could stand.
And here comes this kid — Kurt Cobain — with flannel shirts in the summer, a scratchy voice, a disheveled 3-chord-sound ripe for basement keggers and garage parties, who would change the world with one sentence: “Here we are now, entertain us…”
The phrase was as much of an indictment of our entire culture as it was a celebration of, well, indicting our culture.
Cobain was disgusted that we had become consumers in the worst possible way. We lived to consume and to be entertained.
Our music, with the exception of some hip hop, was bite-sized and largely void of substance. Our political structure was detached from the young populous. And even the things we watched on television, were sing-songy.
We were collectively living a trite and meaningless existence.
And Cobain’s one sentence would really change the way we do business. Gone were obnoxious platitudes like “don’t worry, be happy.” Gone were the “talk dirty to me’s,” the “cherry pies” and “Dr. Feelgoods.”
After Cobain uttered those words into the American experience, nobody would get a pass.
We evaluate every artist and popular concept within the context and framework created by Cobain, even if we do so unwittingly.
In the Christian context, Jesus was our Cobain. Before Jesus at the scene in the first-century Roman empire, there were a considerable amount of people who were living lives that lacked substance.
They prayed, they attended worship, they worked, they read their sacred texts, gave alms to the poor, and even had discussions about God. But they were simply engaged in that conduct for the sake of being engaged in that conduct.
In other words, their conduct was disconnected from their belief in God.
And Jesus changed that. He knew that when we perform good works for the wrong reasons, it is difficult to change the world. He knew that changing the world for the good, required more than just good actions, it required good actions motivated by love.
Love for God. Love for our friends and enemies. Love for everyone regardless and because of who they choose to love.
And so when Jesus told the crowd to love God like nobody else, and love the people on earth hard like we love ourselves, He gave us our “here we are now…” moment.