So I am at work at the moment, and have been since 5 a.m. Luckily, I haven't had to leave my apartment yet. Ah, the wonders of remote desktop! I am waiting for email from someone approving some work I did. Who knows when the first person will get in and actually approve this? I don't. So while I wait, I shall write a screed. A non-work screed.
I have in my bathroom a copy of Mother Jones from last fall with an article on the blues. The cover blurb is
Has the blues sold its soul for success? And that got me pontificating to myself. See, I don't mind people selling out. And I don't mind the corporatization of music and food and culture. If you want good music that isn't over-produced Britney Spears crap, it's out there. Sure, it's not put out by MCAWarnerEMISony Records. You have to go look for it. It's published by Invisible, or Kill Rock Stars, or any one of a hundred other smaller labels. The stuff that becomes popular is the stuff that appeals at least to a small part of many people. It's the least common denominator. Stuff that is truly great, in my opinion, or your opinion, is less likely to appeal to a great mass of people. Because our tastes are all different.
But the point remains that this music is out there. So are the good movies. And everything else culturally related.
What people are unknowingly complaining about is not that music and movies and whatnot are crap. Sure it sounds like that. What they are complaining about is that no one else agrees with them. Last year when Joey Ramone died, many noted and some complained that the Ramones never achieved popular success. Robbin Crosby of Ratt died the next day. Ratt was denigrated as a musical failure but commercial success. I don't agree. I think Ratt's musical success can be measured by its commercial success. The Ramones musical success can be noted by their influence on other musicians. I note the comparison because of its stark nature. People want their vision of what's good to be measured by everyone else as what's good. And the only widely measurable way to do that is record sales. By that measure Ratt was far better than the Ramones. And Ramones fans dislike that (well, some do).
Why do you (the hypothetical Ramones fan pissed off that Ratt sold more records) care what other people think about your musical taste? Isn't it enough that you like the music and enough other people did that the Ramones made a bunch of records for you and now you get to enjoy them? Nah, what you are doing is combining you love of music with your desire to be part of the crowd, to have validation that what you like is right. Grow up a little. Be comfortable with what you like and stop worrying so much about what's popular.
No matter how big a behemoth the corporate purveyors of culture become, they only create more opportunity for smaller folks to do their work. Not so they can be distributed by the corporate world. Because the bigger they get, the less they can fill in the little nooks and crannies of people's tastes. Leaving those niches open to anyone willing to fill it and work at it. The only downside is that you will have to go to a little independent record store, search out a smaller bookstore, peruse the web for an artist or wander out of the way galleries. You will have to work for what you want. You won't find it at WalMartBordersTimeWarnerWolfgangPuckDisn