January 21, 2014

ELIOT | Radio Static Holds the Key to André 3000′s Diatribe

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By CHRISTO ELIOT

There’s a lot of pride in the year of the monkey: I share a birth year with Miley Cyrus. It was a leap year, and much like this semester, it began on a Wednesday. Being born in 1992 also puts me right in the middle of Generation Y. That makes me a millennial –– or an entitled punk kid, depending on who you ask. Somehow, despite all of our generation’s contributions to the world, like hashtags and hipsters, there are still a few flaws I see among my contemporaries –– a big one being apathy.

Altanta-based rap group, OutKast, released their sophomore album ATLiens in August 1996. In the title song of the album, André 3000 told his fans to “throw your hands in the air” and to “wave them like you just don’t care.” Unfortunately, I don’t think most people demonstrate the type of carefree attitude the group was hoping for. Rather than being apathetic toward others’ opinions about you and your uncoordinated arm waving, the apathy I tend to see is characterized by a lack of passion for anything. That is to say, there seems to be a lot less caring and maybe even less arm waving.

Who’s to say what’s responsible for the decline in passion? Is it the death of space exploration? Probably. It could also be the fact that we read less, watch more television, have easy access to most of the information we could ever want and the fact that two Big Macs cost only four dollars at McDonald’s right now (a deal so good in the calories-per-dollar department that it should probably be illegal). Regardless, people don’t care.

I wasn’t really made aware of this apathy until I drove my father’s car while at home last month. Made in 2003, the car has an AM and FM radio. If our planet ever faced alien invaders, I’m convinced the first people to form a militia to fight back would be the callers on sports and political talk radio. They are modern day minutemen. There may be some loud talking heads on television (I’m look at you and your big head, Jay Leno), but the beauty of talk radio callers is that they are us. Anyone can call and shout on the radio.

Is what the radio callers say always based in truth or logical? Absolutely not. But it’s refreshing to hear some guy with a questionable degree of education through the static on the radio shouting, “Peyton Manning is God’s gift to football and may reveal himself as the Second Coming of Christ during the Super Bowl halftime show” and that “Tom Brady is soft because he is sponsored by Ugg.” They are spirited and passionate. They loudly shout their often incoherent banter and don’t care. They are the individuals who would make André 3000 proud. That is admirable enough to not change the dial.

This is not, however, a Dead Poet’s Society “seize the day” kind of message. I’ll let you all watch that movie on your own time and get the message from the much more charismatic Robin Williams. Winter break was a fine time to be apathetic: My three main activities were sleeping, watching movies and showering without flip-flops –– three things I don’t really get to do during the semester. But apathy is too easy when the semester begins to fall into that same type of rut. And showering without flip-flops is a hazard to your health in basically every shower I’ve encountered so far at Cornell.

I encourage everyone to try and look at Cornell the same way you looked at it as an incoming freshmen or visiting senior in high school. Remember how Willard Straight was a beautiful stone building with unlimited possibilities and not just the home of the disappointing Russian Food Night at Okenshields. Remember how you thought the parties would be more like they were in Animal House and there would be less Settlers of Catan involved.

Maybe you have the same New Year’s resolution I do, and you are hoping for less FIFA and Wings Over Ithaca orders. Remember this semester that Cornell is a place that has enough resources to let you follow basically any passion you have. And you’re a member of the chosen people of Generation Y, so you know you deserve it.

Christo Eliot is a junior in the College of Engineering. He may be reached at celiot@cornellsun.com. The Tale of the Dingo at Midnight appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.