Friday, May 16, 2008

The wisdom of Johnny Rotten, part 1

On the big Rock acts of the 60's:

They came out of the ever-so-generous-and-love-everyone sixties and soon turned into the f***ing greedy, shifty little businessmen doing their utmost to stifle the opposition. The lot of them deserved the name dinosaur - too big, too pompous, elaborate, enormous, enormous amounts of equipment, only playing very large auditoriums or open air festivals. Music became as remote from the general public as you could possibly get. They became like little royal families unto themselves. They carted themselves around the country, waving to us occasionally. They bought immense houses, joined the stockbrokers belt and sent their kids to -private schools! See? The system! They became it. [John Lydon, No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, p. 196.]

Perhaps the younger readers in the audience (is audience the right word for blog readers?) cannot envision the generation of which he speaks. We do not seem to have the rock royalty that we used to. Still, is the criticism fair? Did they become the system?


Josh said...

We do not seem to have the rock royalty that we used to.

Absolutely we did/do! It simply took a digital revolution to expose them. Metallica was loved for their fierce style and outside status among outcasts and metalhead. In the beginning, Metallica represented the outsiders view (re: the Kill em' All Album).

However, over time their popularity and egos began to grow. They went from playing garages to arenas. Soon enough they were untouchable.

At the same time, many people still loved Metallica. Their success seemed deserved - unlike other pop acts who were clearly manufactured to capitalize on a genre.

However, once the people who loved them and their music began to obtain their music through Napster Metallica turned on their fans! They were one of the first to come out against Napster and against their own fans for obtaining their music without giving them money.

Whereas many viewed Napster as battling against a rather corrupt Recording Industry that had been gouging fans and suppressing alternative forms of music (a fact that is just now coming to light several years later), Metallica viewed it as threat to their finanical bottom line. Instead of siding with the fans, they sided with Napster (the system, if you will.)

They even sued Napster (and by default their fans)! Publicly Metallica said, "There are many kids out there today that do not respect the fact that artists work long and hard to put out albums. They take quality music for granted and they don't fully realize that even though a musician may be popular and on the radio, doesn't necessarily mean that they are full of money." Of course, Metallica was loaded with cash! They became the pompous, bloated, dinosaurs of our era.

That is why I hate Metallica.

Josh said...


Instead of siding with the fans, they sided with the recording industry (the system, if you will.)

Hanno said...

I love the line about "waving to us occasionally."

Josh said...

I must say that not only musicians evolved into the shifty little businessmen doing their utmost to stifle the opposition. Academics are just as much to blame for this trend.

In my opinion, the lot of them deserved the name dinosaur. Take Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, for example. You can read his book review under "Current Philosophical Conversation - Can U Read Kant?"

According to the review:

Mr. Bauerlein presents a wealth of data to show that young people, with the aid of digital media, are intensely focusing on themselves, their peers and the present moment. YouTube and MySpace, he says, are revealingly named: These and other top Web destinations are "peer to peer" environments in the sense that their juvenile users have populated them with predictably juvenile content. The sites where students spend most of their time "harden adolescent styles and thoughts, amplifying the discourse of the lunchroom and keg party, not spreading the works of the Old Masters.

He eulogizes New York's City College in the mid-20th century, a book-centered, debate-fostering place where a generation of intellectuals rejected the "sovereignty of youth" in favor of the concerted study of canonical texts and big ideas."

Since when did the "Old Masters" have a monopoly on intellectual discourse?! His thesis is an echo of Andrew Keen's book "Cult of the Amateur."

What is tucked beneath this fear is academic elitism: The internet is full of childish banter. Books and universities are where the intellecutal conversations take place. Please.

Why can't the concerted study of canonical texts and big ideas take place in "peer to peer" enviornments?

Truth is, Mr. Bauerlein, the the youth of today are much brighter than you give them credit for and they don't need you to interpret the big ideas for them.

Hanno said...

Current dinos are not quite the same. Back then, you had the big bands, the Who, Led Zep, The Stones, etc. putting out an album a year, touring every year, etc.

Its the reason for the Clash's "If you been playing for years, we already heard your song," not to mention, in the classic outside-becomes-industry:

"n every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock n roll
Grabs the mike to tell us
hell die before hes sold
But I believe in this-
and its been tested by research
That he who f**ks nuns
will later join the church"

Part is unfair (I think new stuff was produced by those bands up until the mid 70's, where upon they all cratered), but that part of the critique seems right on the money. Metallica may fit the bill, but Metallica does not dominate the airways and concert arenas like the Huge bands of the 70's.

Rob said...
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