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CRITIQUE WILL EAT ITSELF
or,
Celine Dion as the Turkey Twizzler of Pop


Simon Reynolds writes the best history/summation of the rockism debate you will ever read. If that doesn't mean anything to you: a lot of critics (who we can call "popists", or "anti-rockists", but "popists" is nicely redolent of other, older cultural wars) have been championing pop music previously considered disposable and unworthy of ink. It's a two-pronged argument: first, pop is better than you think. Second, what's wrong with disposable? I may not agree with Reynolds's take on anti-rockism, but he gives context and reveals structure, and writes fearlessly.

My summary of the popists above ignores an underlying ideological orientation many of them share. As Reynolds points out, it's populism with roots in the whole cultural and critical studies program with strong ties to Marxism. As such, it considers value and quality in music as social constructions (although not to the entire exclusion of talent etc.)

Now that's an important point. But carried too far (again paraphrasing Reynolds) it leads to an endless self-interrogation about why you like or dislike a particular piece of music that is fatal to the love of music. So we're reduced to banalities: it's an important impulse, but it shouldn't be your whole world-view. Balance is all.

Reynolds does this all better than I do. We've made the same points, but this kind of writing is performance more than anything else, a series of gestures that evokes a certain emotional response, and he's more graceful.


last timestamped: 16:31:56 09-Jun-2006
in categories:Music

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