At the gym this morning, the speakers that used to blare hits from the nineties by a nostalgic coach (imagine lifting weights with Zombie in the background) is today tuned to Simple Plan’s full discography, from their first hits such as the lovelorn Addicted to You and Perfect, previously an anthem about unmet parental expectations now elevated as a classic videoke staple. Then there’s Crazy, which arguably is peak-Simple Plan: “Diet pills, surgery / Photoshopped pictures in magazines / telling them how they should be / it doesn’t make sense to me.” As someone who grew up listening to their songs, Simple Plan’s songs epitomized angst and despondency typical of youngsters like me who tune in to MTV or Campus Radio WLS FM on my way to school. Out of all their songs, Crazy was the most trenchant: a rant about eveyrthing that’s wrong with the world, clothed in pop rock. Crazy is an inquiry of a wide-eyed kid about social inequalities, fame obsession, unrealistic beauty standards and parental expectations. (Good Charlotte’s We Believe, from the same era, was the song’s optimistic cousin.)
Little did we know that things would only get worse with social media, vapes and deepfakes. On the same day, at a restaurant I overheard a group of parents shrugging and sighing as they talk about their kids’ problems: a father likened a time when he wrested away the device from his child as painful, as if he was wresting away his child’s freedom; a concerned mother related mentioned that her seven year-old had to make a trip to a psychiatrist due to bullying at school. The rising awareness on mental health among the youth is not an overreaction (as how boomers dismiss it) but a symptom of everything that is twisted about growing up in this day and age. While Crazy had no ambition to become a chronicle of the youth’s anxiety and disillusionment, if I think about it now as a parent, it did just that.