When I was younger and far more cynical, I enjoyed an unnecessarily snarky book called “Generation Ecch”, which disassembled nearly all the pop culture of the 80s and 90s with a single harsh thesis: Everything is dumb and all you people are idiots.  One of the things the book actually tried to defend was the idea that John Belushi’s youthful death was somehow better than Dan Aykroyd growing old, gaining weight and making movies that weren’t as good.  It was a pretty horrific thing to opine, not just from the perspective of celebrating loss of life in the name of a better filmography, but from the perspective that aging is somehow itself an unforgivable sin.  20 years ago, it made me uncomfortable, but today it makes me wonder what happened to the young hipsters who wrote that book (and perhaps, on a tiny vicious level, hope they got really fat in their old age…  I may be more mature, but I’m still prone to human failings.)  Still, as absurd as their assertion is and was, it does raise today’s immortal query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) gets weirdly existential about the fate of John Belushi, since I always appreciated his humorous intentions, asking: In your opinion, is it a better fate to burn out or to fade away?


  1. Chris Zuga
    January 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm — Reply

    That’s a question I’ve wrestled with for the last 25 years and I still can’t give you a definite answer.

    • January 16, 2015 at 1:39 pm — Reply

      Yeah, sometimes it gets pretty existential up in here. ;)

  2. Arbor Day
    January 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm — Reply

    Fade away, I’m not one for spectacle.

  3. Van
    January 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm — Reply

    Burn Out… seen to much hardship on families and care givers for those that slowly age and fall apart, physically and mentally bit by bit by bit…

  4. TheWolverine
    January 16, 2015 at 10:33 pm — Reply

    I choose legacy. To pass on the knowledge of all the mistakes it took to make me who I am and hope they learn to carry my torch better than I tried to so the light will never fade.

  5. Doctor Dinosaur
    January 17, 2015 at 5:43 am — Reply

    If “fading away” here means growing old and doing work that doesn’t just get better and better. Then I don’t see what the problem with fading away is?

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.