3 Fun Activities to Get You Out of The House

So, in an ongoing effort to stave off the effects of depression and anxiety, I’ve been trying to take steps to change my lifestyle here and there to better facilitate my emotional health. I recently started a new anti-depressant/anti-anxiety treatment, I’ve been actively cutting out people and things that may cause me undue stress, and I’m starting to listen more to my own sense of comfort – favoring an “if it feels good, do it” mentality over fretting over what society will think.

But, in addition to all that, I’m also making an effort to try an overcome my mild to moderate demophobia and disdain for social interactions by trying to force myself to go outside more often. The only problem is – and I imagine this a problem for A LOT of people with social anxiety – that unless you need to go shopping or something, there’s often little reason to leave the comfort of your bedroom/living room/personal office (I have very little living space; shut up).

So, I’ve been attempting to find and rediscover some old out outdoor activities to help get me outside, be more physically active, and socializing with humanity again. So far, I’ve come across three viable fun-time adventures to go on.

Urban Hiking

Yes, nature is pretty. But a skyline can be nice to look at too.
Source: Liz Thomas Hiking

My Father is a bit of a mountaineer. He’s hiked along almost every major mountain trail in New Hampshire and he’s been very encouraging to try and get me to join him.

The problem is that I live in the middle of the city with very little time to devote to traveling to the mountains. But who’s to say you can’t enjoy a hike through the city?

Sure, some people may scoff at the idea. But if you find it difficult to get to a nature trail, urban hiking may just suit you. Not only does it get you into a social setting, but you may just be surprised at what you find on your travels. I’ve been on hikes through college towns with lots of shops packed together and found places that I end up coming back to later; thrift stores, cafes, etc.

Most Urban Hikers seem to favor places with lots of stairs and hills to simulate the incline of a mountain trail, but you can always choose the path that best suits your level of expertise. It all makes for a more travel-friendly, lower-risk social activity.

Geocaching

“I found treasure… WITH MY PHONE.”
Source: Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

One part hike, one part treasure hunt, and one part time capsule. Geocaching is the high tech way to wander the world in search of fresh new sights.

What’s nice about geocaching is how accessible it is. People have quite literally hidden these little boxes of surprise goodies that they trade from one cache to the next EVERYWHERE; in cities, on nature trails, in cemeteries, in parking lots – if you can covertly fit a container big enough to hold a logbook of some kind in it, someone has likely done so. As such, there’s no shortage of options to fit your skill level. All you need is a phone with a GPS and the drive to explore.

What’s more, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of coming across an item in a cache with a tracking number on it so you can see where it’s been. On my first outing, I found a keychain from the Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore with such a tracker. It had gone up the west coast from the southern tip of California to Washington state, leaped to mid-state New York, and again to New Hampton here in New Hampshire. I then left it in a cache in Maine to complete its coast-to-coast journey and, last I saw, it was somewhere in Texas.

The only catch is that you have to exercise a little stealth while playing as any non-players (referred to, much to the delight of Harry Potter fans, as Muggles) may be inclined to tamper with or even steal the cache. So tread lightly and stay aware.

Battle Gaming

All the action of a Dungeons & Dragons game right in your face.
Source: Wikipedia

Do you miss the days when you and your friends would roughhouse in the yard, but don’t want to risk losing teeth to recreate the feeling? Do you like the look and action of LARPing, but can’t be arsed to deal with all that role-playing nonsense? Well, grab yourself some foam and get into the ring of battle games.

I got into this back in my convention days and it was a blast. Armed with foam-crafted blade and shield (called Boffers) and your nerves, you can now capture the feeling of charging into battle like the warriors of old.

The rules of battle differ depending on who’s organizing the events. Some are one-on-one gladiatorial battles. Others are large-scale wargames with competing tribes and armies. And each has different regulations on how boffers are crafted and what weapons are allowed. Though almost all of them are designed to minimize the risk of injury while letting players go wild.

With foam arrows flying through the air and people shield bashing their way through a crowd, it can get hectic. But with the light bruises comes a sense of pride and exhilaration as you face down the horde and stand your ground against the odds… even if it’s all just pretend and sport.

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The Agent on Homophobia, Meme Culture, and Millie Bobby Brown

Millie’s face in this scene looks like mine when I heard the news.
Source: Hello Giggles

It’s not often that I wake up first thing in the morning and know EXACTLY what I’m going to talk about this week… I just wish I didn’t HAVE to.

For those that don’t follow celebrity happenings, Millie Bobby Brown, the young actress best known for playing Eleven on Stranger Things, was bullied off of Twitter yesterday because of memes circulating around the web using pictures of her and spouting off homophobic rhetoric. This was especially damaging to her since she is well known for being a powerful supporter of the LGBT+ community.

… I have SEVERAL complaints.

First, I want to address my attitude towards people leaving social media over bullying. Normally, I reprimand people for doing this as it shows the opposition that they can get whatever they want if they’re dickish enough. But, in this instance, I think Millie may have made the right choice. The sort of harassment that she’s experiencing right now is especially damaging when you’re as young as she is. So removing herself from that environment, at least until the meme runs it’s lifespan out, was probably the best choice she could have made.

That brings me to the culture of memes in general. Let’s not beat around the bush here; memes are the LOWEST form of entertainment. Any brain dead schmuck with a pirated copy of Photoshop can parrot the same unfunny garbage as 5 million other people and call themselves an artist. The only reason these things gain traction is just for that reason; they cater to and are (mostly) produced by the lowest common denominator. As such, the ‘insights’ they share will almost always be the same sort mouth-breathing troglodyte thinking that seems to have been dominating the landscape lately.

Which is exactly why THIS unfunny hack job we’re talking about now is centered around homophobia. It seems pretty obvious that one blinkering jackass who enjoys the smell of their own beer farts thought it would be hilarious to make an anti-gay meme during Pride Month of all times and centered around a young person that has supported the community for a long time because they lack the number of functioning brain cells – most likely having died through multiple college benders – to understand how comedic juxtaposition is SUPPOSED to work (Or at least I HOPE that’s the explanation because the alternative is that they were ACTUALLY hoping this would destroy the LGBT+ community… somehow…). You need a punchline in order for a ‘joke’ to exist. So where is it here? Where’s the goddamn joke?

I know it sounds like I’m just angry and fuming right now, but I actually am that upset. Stuff like this – people that think that being offensive just to get a rise out of people qualifies as comedy and probably claims that “Mel Brooks could have gotten away with it” while failing to understand that even he had the common decency to not make light of lynching when he made Blazing Saddles– has been going on for far too long.

The sad part is that you can’t just ‘get rid’ of thinking like this. there’s always going to be some colossal, cretinous clod-hopper who thinks insults and threats of violence alone with no real comedic exaggeration are the height of humor. But we CAN make it clear to them that they have crossed a line. We can shame and abandon such ignorant people and leave them to rot in obscurity and their own intolerance.

On the unlikely chance that Millie sees this, know that you did nothing wrong. You’re just an unfortunate victim of cruel, uneducated sub-humans. I hope that someday, you’ll come back to us fully healed and ready to make us smile again. Until then, we’ll wait for you.

As for the rest of you, congratulations; you attacked a harmless community on their day of recognition, earned the ire and hate of the world, and made a 14-year-old girl cry. Your parents must be beaming with pride.

Metalhead Adulting: Why Aggretsuko Just Plain Works

Dragonball Super would be more fun if Goku belted Death Metal while going Ultra Instinct.
Source: Giphy.com

As usual, I’m late to the party on this one. But that’s not to say that I’ve been sleeping on Aggretsuko. I’ve been watching (and rewatching) it for some time now. It’s the first time that I’ve been genuinely excited about a Netflix series since Castlevania.

But where my interest in Castlevania was fueled mainly by nostalgia for the games it was adapted from, Aggretsuko is an original property reworked from a set of shorts and given an actual plot. Normally, adding plot where none was meant to be is just asking for trouble. So, why does it work?

Well, among many things…

The writing (the animal symbolism, especially) is clever

The titular Retsuko is a Red Panda; a species known for being more active after dark (she works long hours and goes to the karaoke bar at night) and being highly territorial despite its cute appearance (the series revolves around her Death Metal-fueled ranting and raving).

Her co-worker Haida, a Spotted Hyena is never seen laughing like we’d expect, but that’s probably because he’s lovestruck, loses his nerve around her and can’t loosen up (males in hyena clans are ALWAYS submissive to the women and their cubs).

Her boss, Director Ton, is a Hog who abuses his power and has little-to-no respect for women; a LITERAL male chauvinist pig.

These are just a few of the ways Aggretsuko plays with and/or subverts the stereotypes we attach to animals. It’s the sort of writing that you kick yourself for not thinking of yourself because it’s kind of obvious and works so well.

Of course, they also use that writing for clever humor as well. I’m actually surprised that so few people I know got how funny it was that Washimi, the company president’s secretary, was a SECRETARY Bird and that the director of marketing Gori was a Gorilla (get it, Guerrilla Marketing?)

It speaks to modern American work culture

This is the thing that EVERYONE talks about when they mention Aggretsuko. And to be fair it’s a big damn deal.

Retsuko’s plight is that of everyone between the age of 18 and 40 today. She spends her days at a job where she isn’t respected or compensated enough for the effort she puts in and what little time she does have to herself forces her to choose between her passion projects or a social life.

Think of it this way; the average American works 47 hours a week. Spread out over a standard 5-day work week, that’s about 9.5 hours a day. Subtract the recommended 8 hours a day we’re recommended for sleep and that leaves you with a mear 6.5 hours to do your daily chores around the house while likely running on fumes after work. And if you’re an office drone like Retsuko, you can expect to put in overnighters and be called into the office on weekends. And judging from her apartment, she also not being paid very well; another issue working adults face with increasingly infuriating frequency.

All of this culminates in the average person over 21 having little in the way of time, energy, and resources to focus on their own goals and becoming truly self-sufficient. The result is being forced to fight a constant losing battle to maintain mental health under the pressure of social responsibility; a scenario my generation refers to as “Adulting.” … which, hilariously, actually does have a Metal anthem dedicated to it.

Speaking of metal…

It also speaks to modern Japanese music culture

Let’s not forget that this is anime and, as such, draws its perspective from a Japanese point-of-view. So what is uniquely Japan in Aggretsuko?

Well, Japanese comedy has always been quick to poke fun at office life as anyone who enjoys slice-of-life anime can tell you. But I honestly feel that most people overlook the significance of Metal in Japan’s Pop music culture.

You see, one of the great things about Metal that has kept it alive through the years is that it’s highly adaptive; changing not only with trends but with the culture that picks it up. Norway gave us the second wave of Black Metal in the 90’s. German bands like Rammstein shaped Neue Deutsche Härte (lit. “New German Hardness”). Even us Yankees saw what New Wave British Heavy Metal was doing, pumped up the tempo, and made U.S. Power Metal.

But to see why Death Metal is so important to the modern music scene in Japan, you first have to first understand the place of J-Pop Idol Groups.

The Pop scene in Japan is the definition of corporate manufactured music. They are marketed as being cute role models first and music seems to be a tertiary thought. That would be offensive enough to a music snob like me, but the groups are VERY strictly maintained to an almost draconian degree. Members of the group “graduate” (read: are kicked out of the band) after reaching a certain age. They cant drink. They can’t smoke. They can’t even have boyfriends. And if they get caught breaking any of the rules, they’re publicly shamed online before being given the boot.

Naturally, a lot of people took exception to this. It’s not right that these girls be bullied for wanting to live a life outside of their jobs. Plus, some people don’t mind the controversy; they WANT to root for the bad girls that stick it to the man. This resulted in J-Pop taking influences from Death Metal’s aesthetics, sound, and counter-cultural drive to mock the shallow absurdity of the Pop Idol scene.

Thus we saw the rise of the Anti-Idols. Bands like Necronomidol and Babymetal have been leading this movement that pushes against the Pop music zeitgeist that has been dominating Japan for years and results in a sound that I can only describe as the cutest little girls covering “Awaken (Mustakrakish)” by Dethklok.

So how appropriate is it the same genre of music that inspired the Idols to throw two proud middle fingers at the industry would also be the sound backing Retsuko’s battle cry against her corporate overlords commanding them to, “choke on my rage?”

The Agent Reviews A Game: Love Nikki-Dress UP Queen

Needs some work on the translation there, hon… but you’re just so sweet and adorable…
Source: Ma.Gi.E. in Wonderland

Well, folks. It’s time to put my credibility as a gamer to the ultimate test.

In my tireless search for a passable mobile game, I found one in the one place I and every other gamer has been told since birth we would never find a fun game. So here comes the big ass truth bomb; my favorite game on mobile is… A DRESS UP SIMULATOR.

The plot of Love Nikki-Dress UP Queen is… bizarre and pretty nonsensical. our heroine Nikki and her cat companion Momo find themselves, for reasons unknown to them and us, transported to the fantasy world of Miraland – a world where rivalries and disputes are handled, not with violence, but with one-on-one fashion competitions (silly, but edenic in a strange sort of way) living in the aftermath of a “nine-day war” of stylists competing for three worldly treasures. Obviously, the story is not the main draw of this game; par for the course on mobile.

The writing and voice acting aren’t much better, unfortunately. The dialog is stilted, the script has quite a few grammatical errors, and voices are so forcefully twee and cute that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were watching a rerun of Rainbow Brite from the 80’s. So why do I like this game so much?

Simply put, it handles all of its gameplay mechanics amazingly. Unlike every game of its kind I’ve seen in the past, the scoring during the judging never feels arbitrary. The game lays out very clear standards and goals to achieve with each level. You’ll be given a theme to match (office, sport, traditional, etc.) and examples of what aspects of your outfit you will be most heavily judged for (cuteness, liveliness, maturity, etc.).

Plus, judgings aren’t passive events. Both you and your opponent can make the game more challenging with active skills. You can flash a smile to win judges over or kill your opponent’s confidence by throwing some critical shade. It’s less a passive fashion contest than it is spell casting management in an MMORPG.

Of course, even if you think the main story missions are arbitrary, there’s still the multiplayer competitions. New themes are regularly selected and players will judge each other in pairs based on who they think best matches the theme for the current contest.

You’ll be encouraged to craft and customize your clothing (so be weary; you may not want to throw out that old pair of jeans just yet), interact with and join a stylist’s association (this game’s equivalent of a guild), and – of course – gather daily login rewards which normally kill the mood for me, but are worked in well here. You earn so much in-game currency and clothing normally that you won’t be too terribly hurt if miss one day. Plus, the reward system itself seems highly forgiving. I swear I missed a day here an there with everything going on in my week. But when I got back, I didn’t lose any progress. Now that’s user-friendliness!

If there was any complaint I had to levy on Love Nikki, it’s that it still approaches it’s gameplay from a “dress up games are for girls” perspective with how cute it’s trying to be. But, to the game’s credit, there are a number of fashion-forward men in the cast and “unisex” is one of the many style options available. So it’s not as narrow-visioned as it could be and it doesn’t come off as closed off.

So yeah, a dress up game wound up being one of my favorite things to play on my phone while waiting for my shift to start and I suspect it would be yours too. Granted this is all coming from the bias of someone who dedicates every Wednesday on Twitter to showing off their makeup and new clothes, but if you have the same interests, this will be right up your alley. It just goes to show you that you can’t just write off a genre as worthless because of a history of bad eggs. Who knows? Someone may have fixed the problems that plague it before.

Three Ways That Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Fails

An accurate recreation of the, “Oh s***, I’m f***ed,” face I made when I saw just how dickish this game would be.
Source: GameRant

If it’s one thing that my history with mobile gaming has taught me, it’s that almost every game with the word ‘Mystery in its title is going to be a disappointment. What little mystery there is in the story or gameplay will almost always be weak and unengaging.

But it hurt even more when this truth befell Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery because this was a series of books and films that meant so much to so many. This was, for many people, how they or their younger kin were introduced to the realms of fantasy storytelling. Sure, it was just a story at the end of the day. But it was a story that held weight. To see that fall victim to the lazy industry mentality of, “push it out the door quickly to make a buck sooner” cuts exceptionally deep.

At this point, you’ve likely seen the tending Twitter posts and Facebook memes surrounding this game. But I want to strip away that protective varnish of humor and expose the raw and acidic sting of buyer’s remorse surrounding this travesty in order to provide a sort of ‘big book of do not’s’ for future app developers. So, where did Hogwarts Mystery go wrong?

Mismanaging the energy mechanic

One of the most consistent complaints I’ve seen from people regarding Hogwarts Mystery. It seems almost inevitable that you’ll be in the middle of a story mission or a class when… “Oops, you don’t have enough energy to finish this task. Oh, you say you’re on ticking clock? and if you wait around for your energy to rebuild, you’ll lose? Guess you better hand us ALL YOUR MONEY and PAY for the privilege to play if you don’t want to be strangled to death by the Devil’s Snare.”

I rarely see money-grubbing behavior on this level. You aren’t given enough resources to complete tasks without paying for it and if the bothered to fix it, the game’s main challenge would disappear. This is one of the most blatantly transparent cash grabs I’ve ever seen in a mobile game. Or rather, it would be if not for…

Mismanaging character customization

Have you noticed how ridiculously expensive most of the character customization options are? Seriously, 4000 coins for a haircut? It’s taken me four chapters just to get half of that. 100 diamonds for a basic pair of glasses? That’s REAL money for a simple, unimpressive cosmetic detail most people will overlook.

Most of these things require, once again, in-game purchases if you want them. This means even MORE transparent cash-grabbing. I really don’t think this was the kind of business model J.K. Rowling had in mind when she wrote the first stories on an old manual typewriter while trying to care for her daughter alone with no job and fighting the clinical depression that would later inspire The Dementors.

Combat is almost purely luck-based

The big thing that could have saved this mess was the dueling mechanic. The fact that many missions teach you spells you can use in duels was actually really exciting; like you were recreating the feel of being a Hogwarts student.

… And then you actually have to duel.

Dueling is nothing more than a rock-paper-scissors game where the victor wins the right to slap the loser in a magical game of Rochambeau. The only “strategy” comes when you get a whole TWO choices for attacks. Even Pokémon let you have four attack options per character and let choose which ones you wanted to an extent.

I know this is going to be a much shorter essay than what I normally give, but I was genuinely caught off guard by the massive amount of NOTHING this game had to offer. It wasn’t engaging, there’s no real mystery as advertised, and every mechanic seems based around parting you from your money first with fun being a tertiary goal at best. And it doesn’t matter that they heard the criticisms of the players and lowered their microtransaction prices; if a restaurant offers you an appetizer of cat s***, you don’t stick around for the main course.

Don’t play this game, don’t give them your money. If the choices are between this game and a Reductor Curse targeting your genitals, I suggest looking the witch or wizard pointing their wand at your junk in the eyes and telling them, “it’s still not as bad as Hogwarts Mystery.”

The Agent’s Lyrical Breakdown of Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good”

So, no sooner did I put out my declaration of disgust for Country music, I found one that seemed to fly in the face of most of my statements.

Luke Bryan’s ” Most People Are Good” isn’t a sad, pity song like most old-school Country nor is it an obnoxiously chipper party anthem that co-ops Rap because it’s too ashamed to be called country. Instead, what we have here is an inspirational ballad meant to lift spirits and keep us soldiering on through hard times because life is worth living – a sentiment that I’ve championed more than a few times here.

So by that logic, you’d think I’d like this song. But, no. There are a lot of lyrics that I have hang-ups with that make my skin crawl. And since I had so much fun destroying Meghan Trainor’s work by applying logic to her lyrics, I thought I could do the same with Luke here to edify while getting some cheap yuks through riffing. So, let’s begin.

“I believe kids oughta stay kids as long as they can…”

You hear that, mom and dad? Luke wants me to move back in with you and sit around the house watching old Looney Tunes shorts and eating Kix cereal.

Look, living life like you’re young is okay to a point, but you’ve got to grow up and forge your own way at some point.

“… Turn off the screen, go climb a tree, get dirt on their hands”

Ah, so that first line just meant that you’re a crotchety old bastard who doesn’t like them new-fangled smarty phones.

You do realize that ‘the screen’ you want me to turn off is the only way most of us even know who the hell you are, right? Traditional radio is being fazed out and almost no one consumes physical media anymore. So maybe you shouldn’t, to reference a better musical talent, “bite the hand that feeds”.

“I believe we gotta forgive and make amends/’Cause nobody gets a second chance to make new old friends”

A noble sentiment and all, but a bit too broad for my comfort levels. I can think of quite a few people I wouldn’t want to rekindle a friendship with; school bullies, egomaniac ex-girlfriends, junkies, ETC. You’ve got to start vetting people a little bit for your own sake.

“I believe in working hard for what you’ve got/Even if it don’t add up to a hell of a lot”

So do I. I’m an old farmer’s kid myself. However, the way you word it here makes it sound like you think we shouldn’t demand better for that hard work. You should always demand better and fair pay for your effort. That’s LITERALLY what this whole “Fight for $15” campaign to raise the minimum wage is all about.

“I believe most people are good/And most mama’s oughta qualify for sainthood”

Firstly, I think Sturgeon’s Law would argue with you on that first point.

Secondly, I love my parents. They’ve always been supportive of me even when I was a genuine scumbag. But speaking of parents in general, they’re just like any other group of people; a few keepers and a WHOLE LOT OF BASTARDS. Just ask the gay kid with the homophobic mom if he thinks she’s saint material. Ask the beaten and bruised girl what she thinks of her alcoholic dad when he abuses her. The idea that parents deserve your respect by default just because they farted you out of/into their orifices is an outdated and toxic one and needs to be buried. Let them earn respect like everyone else.

“I believe most Friday nights look better under neon or stadium lights”

Okay, neon lights CAN be pretty. But so can the stars that the light pollution from your lights blots out. This is just subjective B.S. meant to pander to emotion and doesn’t add anything to your critical commentary on the state of the world. Next line, please.

“I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of”

You know what? I can’t complain about this line. I totally agree with you on this.

Though if I had to nit-pick (which I do for the sake of comedy), your lack of mastery of proper English is starting to wear thin on me.

“I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks”

That may be true, but that doesn’t mean you start slacking off. When you see a problem, you attack it head on – you protest, raise awareness, raise money, organize people, ETC. Letting things fall by the wayside just because, “it’s not a big deal,” is how things BECOME a big deal.

“I believe them streets of gold are worth the work/But I still wanna go even if they were paved in dirt”

Well, scientifically speaking, gold is so heavy for its size and so much softer than standard paving asphalt that the cost of transporting and upkeep would NOT be worth the work. But I get what you’re saying. It’s the same chestnut as before with your “working hard for what you’ve got” line and I stand by my rebuttal.

Also, what’s with you cowboy types and your dirt obsession? I can only imagine that folks like this see pictures of dust bowls and get the most Brobdingnagian erections you’ve ever seen.

“I believe that youth is spent well on the young/’Cause wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun”

Oh yeah. Not knowing how to balance my bank account, wondering how credit cards work, paying people to do my taxes because no one taught me, trying to learn to cook on my own. Every day was just like F***ING DISNEYLAND as a teen.

Seriously though, this line pisses me off more than any of the others. This whole “ignorance is bliss” bulls*** needs to stop.

“I believe if you just go by the nightly news/Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose”

Well, sure, if your only news sources are angry d-bags on either side of the political spectrum like Fox or Young Turks. That’s why I have #GoodNewsFriday on my Twitter and Facebook pages. You’ve got to spice it up. Get your news from a variety of sources.

“I believe that days go slow and years go fast/And every breath’s a gift, the first one to the last”

And more emotional pandering. Not the best way to end your song, sir.


Okay, I rag on the lyrics here. But I don’t honestly think Luke is as shallow as I’ve made him out to be here. As it turns out, this kind of sappy, feel-good music is just really easy to make fun of.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bryan, happy music that acts like it has all the answers just doesn’t make for good art to me. Combine that with the slow, edgeless tone, and you have a song that fails on just about every level to engage me.

Ah, this was fun. Remind me to do this again sometime.

Why The Agent Dislikes (Modern) Country Music

Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow enbies: everything wrong with modern Country music in a single image.
Source: Best Top 10

So, I may have gone on record more than a few times voicing my displeasure with the state of the genre of music we know as Country. Most of that is due to my boss’ insistence on playing a Country music station at work EVERY. SINGLE. GODDAMN. DAY.

Now, I realize that a lot of people can be VERY sensitive when something they love gets criticized. And you know what? I totally get it. When you love a particular art form enough, any attack on it can feel like an attack on you personally. It’s the main reason why we nerds get into such heated debates about our passions (that and debate is fun and healthy).

But I don’t like feeling like I’m just singling people out with malicious intent. If I ridicule something you love, it’s because I’ve found something questionable or objectionable about it that ruins my ability to enjoy it; not because I think you are an inferior person for enjoying it. So, let’s discuss my rationale for why Country music repulses me so.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that it’s mostly the turn that modern Country has taken – not Country as a whole – that perturbs me. Granted, I have issues with Classic Country as well, but that’s mostly an unfortunate byproduct of my upbringing. My parents raised me on Classic Rock and Hair Metal. When your life’s soundtrack consists of Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Kiss, everything else seems soft and unengaging.

But, even then, I’m still neutral to Classic Country at most times. Compared to the stuff we get today though, the likes of John Denver and Johnny Cash may as well be Freddie Mercury to my ears. Being assaulted with today’s Country has had the effect of allowing me to reassess those old-timey tracks with a more favorable ear.

Really, my disdain for modern Country comes from what seems to be its two largest modern sub-genres; Bro-Country and Country Rap (AKA; Hick Hop).

The problem that I have with these classes of music is two-fold. Firstly, the subject matter never seems to change. This was a (slightly less prevalent) problem in Classic Country as well with its performers working on the unchanging theme of, “my life sucks, but I’ll get by with enough booze.”

In today’s country scene, they dial that up to eleven. Nearly every song I hear coming over that radio is about A) glorifying alcoholism, B) Objectifying women, or C) turning to alcoholism to cope with the loss of an objectified woman. So not only is it infuriatingly repetitive, it repeats an equally infuriating theme. When the modern country station I have to listen to needs to sneak in pop tracks that are over 10 years old to spice it up, you know the genre is getting stale.

Secondly, the thing that Bro-Country and Country Rap have in common is the reliance on Rap-style production and themes. And as much as I loathe the word “cultural appropriation,” I can’t shake the feeling that it may be at play here.

To be clear, not all of these artists are apeing Rap to keep their careers afloat because it’s just how pop music sounds today. Hell, you can even make a legitimate case that Rap and Country have a common cousin in Talking Blues. Plus, with Rap dominating the sound of Pop Music and with Country being the number one radio format, the two were bound to come together eventually.

However, Rap is a lot more than just a style of music. It’s one of the “4 pillars” of Hip Hop. Rap, along with DJing, Break Dancing, and Graffiti, form the basis of an entire culture of artistic expression that defined life for countless people that, while not possessing great monetary wealth, were rich in history and pride. To take that for yourself for no other reason other than, “because the kids like it,” is kind of disrespectful – especially when you boil it down to a couple of tired and problematic tropes.

So, in conclusion, modern country is a tired, old, cliche-ridden genre that shamelessly rips off other, more popular genres without understanding the societal weight of the art form it’s attempting to emulate and it really needs to take a few steps back to reassess its current position in life before I start considering it good art.

And while I’m ragging on music genres, all of the above applies to Contemporary Christian as well (saved me writing a future article there).