I finally got around to reading that NY Times article on poptimism that everyone is so incensed about. Unsurprisingly, I was not all that incensed. But this bit made me laugh.
Yes. Imagine a world where people are called “snobs” for not paying enough attention to YA lit. Imagine a world where George R. R. Martin gets a front-page review in the New York Times, Stephen King is unironically compared to Dickens, and questioning the literary merit of Harry Potter inspires a fucking riot.
Imagine a world where it might seem that 99% of all film discussion is aimed at the Marvel franchise. Imagine a world where Disney is so fetishized that people produce roughly fifty-nine “Disney Princesses as [perfume bottles/Game of Thrones characters/extreme skateboarders/notable labor advocates throughout history]” pieces per day, without Disney paying them to do so. Imagine that world.
Imagine — if you can wrap your mind around such a ridiculous and unlikely scenario — a world where a click-based economy leads to “it sold a lot, therefore it’s good” being regarded as a legitimate critical stance in regard to all art forms, just because you, too, are only “good” so far as you can get lots of people to read you.
Just. Imagine. It.
Reading the article quoted supra and thinking about it a bit made me recollect a thing I read by Chris Ott, on his ask.fm homespot:
This is because the only music the press talks about is “new” music, rather than “good” music - there’s no suggestion that maybe a record isn’t worth evaluating at all, that it’s just something some people did. People who like music tell other people who like music what music they like. That is the only legitimate referendum.
So it’s not so much about disliking new music as not believing it is inherently worth comment, yet seeing it used to prop up lifestyle advertising and fuel the content furnaces of our many web concerns. That cheats old music of its due and gives unfair advantages to lesser, unproven new acts.
The reverse was true in the past - we wanted to dislodge dinosaur bands and get newer music on the radio and in the magazines. But the Internet/information economy is in control of who you hear/about and when, and they need to create constantly “new” spectacles for you, lest their coverage appear tired and their trusted status erode.
A few things:
- Pop is now.
- Pop is wrapped up with identity politics.
- Pop is youth-oriented.
- Pop is popular.
What wouldn’t the wheels of capitalism jizz all over in their pants about the above? (And it would be jizz… #patriarchy.) Just like voting for Obama in 2008, in a vacuum pop seems to have this almost ironically grave import - but in practice it’s just the same old shit, different day. (Guantanamo, Bush tax cuts, deportations, war on terror, global imperialism, NSA, leadership failure, economic failure, environmental failure, etc.)
Like all things that are sort of bigger than any one or two things you can hold in mind at once, pop has a shitload of stuff going on that you can seize upon and say, “Yeah…. but!” Go ahead! I’m listening to the Sky Ferreira album, which I bought with my own god damn grownup money from iTunes! It’s just important, I think, to those, especially — not to sound too solicitous, over it, and better than you — for the younger and more susceptible to being inflamed, to keep a level head about your idols and figure out how they’re screwing you behind your back (whether they want to or not). Because they are. Anything that’s popular is.