Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.
It happens all the time. You’re typing a message to someone on Facebook, and then some random word in your message happens to look kind of like someone’s name, activating Facebook’s auto-tagging feature. And then, before you know it, an innocent attempt to tell your aunt, “My hemorrhoids are acting up again” becomes “My hemorrhoids are acting up Against Me!” and all of a sudden, a transgendered punk band knows you tell your aunt about your hemorrhoids, and everyone else is thinking you have some sort of paranoid political agenda against your butt problems.
We’ve all been there.
And now you can rejoice, because there’s an entire Tumblr called Love, Grampa and Grandmaster Flash, so named because every time your grandmother tries to send you a message on Facebook, she keeps tagging a hip-hop legend who she’s never heard of. Why grandmothers feel the need to sign their Facebook posts at all when you can clearly see their names above them remains a mystery, but it continues to be no small source of amusement, as they repeatedly associate themselves with a pioneering DJ who inexplicably talks about himself as if he’s a pro chess player.
However, the fact that Facebook is currently crawling with posts that read “Dearest grandson, I heard you like music, but I couldn’t find any of those cassette things at Kmart. Sorry. Love, Grandmaster Flash” isn’t the best part. Nor is the fact that so many of the grandmas in question have actually taken to Flash’s page to post apologies for accidentally dragging the inventor of backspin and scratching into their tawdry family affairs. The best part is how enthusiastically DJ Flash himself has embraced the phenomenon.
In order to promote his new album, the Grandmaster is running the #FlashASelfie campaign, inviting fans to post selfies with their grandmothers for a chance to win a copy of The Grandmaster Flash Collection. The result, just like all of the original posts from grandmothers, has been pretty adorable, as people get together to celebrate their families and shill for free music albums from a 56-year-old man who still calls himself by a superhero name.
It’s a reminder of one of the best, if most intangible, things the Web has done for pop music—it’s restored it to a place where it can bring generations together instead of driving them apart, even if your grandma still hasn’t heard of the rap DJ who’s almost as old as she is. Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, the record industry’s bread and butter was producing records designed to sell to kids by pissing their parents off, leading to the rise of genres like “gangsta” rap, which took a style of music that had grown up in community (under the tutelage of performers like the Flash) and marketed it to misanthropes. Throughout the ’90s, your choice in music was determined less by what you liked and more by the sort of people you wanted to annoy.
Things have changed now, though. Thanks to the Internet, we’re never more than a few clicks away from even the weirdest, most foreign music out there. Buy it because it will offend your parents and other people who are different from you just doesn’t hold the same marketing weight it used to, when your parents can learn about the artist instantaneously from their computer—or when the artist in question can reach out directly to your grandmother.
So, you heard it here first: Grandmaster Flash approves of your right to have a grandmother, and your grandmother is probably okay with the existence of Grandmaster Flash (he seems like a nice guy). The era of music that once again builds up families and communities is upon us. And you can thank God’s providence and old-school hip-hop.