Back when I was a kid, Blogs were called 'imaginary friends' and were only slightly more pathetic.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Arts AND Entertainment, why some liberals are wrong about music

First in what I hope to be a series of 'liberal on liberal' hate crimes, because picking on the 'Credit Jesus first' crowd has gotten way too easy.

I recently saw a repeat of a show on PBS called 'Speaking Freely'. The interviewee this particular episode was Janeane Garafolo, and while I have a great deal of respect for Janeane and think she's genuinely smart and funny, I thought she was dead wrong on the issue of music.

One of the things she discussed at great length was how awful the music industry is, and how pre-packaged pop stars who don't write or perform their own material are jammed down the country's throat by awful radio stations creating an awful class of people who only know crap like Creed and Britney. Janeane admitted that her particular taste was for 'indie-rock' but acknowledged that there are other equally good forms of music out there that aren't pop, like classical and jazz etc. At one point, she matter-of-factly stated that "people want good music and will listen to it, but record companies do everything they can to hide it from them and cram their pre-packaged stuff down their throats instead".

The problem I have with this diatribe is that the solution for the problem stated would be to seize all pop radio stations and force them to play indie-rock or jazz or whatever, and the assumption then is that all those poor plebians shackled to their cubicles would hear the first few guitar chords of the new 'Wilco' album and their chains would magically fall off and the world would run out and destroy all things poisoned by commerce. For some reason, I think that's bullshit.

Not only would a world with only indie-rock, jazz and classical music be intensely boring, but the idea that you can eliminate class when it comes to arts and entertainment is hogwash. Let's assume Janeane's master plan works, and millions of kids dressed in flannel toss every KISS-FM and Z-100 into the ocean. What then? Well, first off, you'd have to rename 'Indie-rock' because it would have 100 million listeners. Then people like me and people like Janeane Garafolo would desperately search out the most 'non-indie-rock' music possible, so as not to be associated with the Olive Garden-eating rabble that now listens to indie music. Then, when the cool people are all listening to 'hardcore shoegaze Peruvian pan-flute' or whatever, we'll call the masses 'idiots' for letting record companies jam mainstream crap like Yo La Tengo down their throats. And the cycle continues.

Arguments like these annoy me because they play right into conservative right-wing stereotypes of liberals as snobby intelligencia that wants to dictate how you entertain yourself. Art is good, art is great, but you have to acknowledge that entertainment exists 'outside' of art for most people. If some guy in Scottsdale, Arizona wants to listen to Staind or P.O.D., it's possible he's heard the new Postal Service and doesn't feel like thinking that much at the moment.



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