Monday, November 12, 2012

Music or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nickelback

I'm kinda kidding about the last part of the title but I'll get to that. First off, that's a picture of Rick Ross wearing a chain of Rick Ross wearing a chain of Rick Ross. That is some next level excessism and would be a cautionary tale for materialism in modern hip-hop if we didn't already go through a phase where putting diamonds in your teeth was totally a real thing. But what I actually wanted to talk about was music as a whole and try to articulate the way that I feel about it. This is just me putting me thoughts down so it's likely not to make sense but bear with me...

In my younger and more vulnerable years I was a naive little shit who thought he knew everything about music. Turns out, I really didn't. I don't really know what the point was when music stopped being just something I listened to and turned into kinda a big part of my life; maybe if I did I'd have a better idea of why I thought that I knew better than everyone else. It may stem from the fact that all of my knowledge was self-taught. My parents never really listened to American music, and never really assimilated into American pop culture at all, so I was forced to learn everything on my own. Looking at myself now, I may have gone a little overboard in that respect.

But that doesn't really answer the question at hand: Who was I to make judgment on things that other people listen to? I guess it was that false sense of superiority I got in 10th grade when I thought listening to The White Stripes made me the coolest person on the planet. What I've come to realize is that it doesn't matter because nobody cares. You could be a fucking connoisseur of post avant-garde indie rock but no one will care because it's not something that people talk about. Opinions don't really mean anything, and should only really be used to judge yourself, not other people. But I didn't know that.

There's a strange cultural understanding where people think it's OK to belittle other people's interests because of an innate human desire for competitiveness, even when the opportunity for it isn't there. I like A, you like B. A is better than B so therefore I am better than you. Not only is this a logical fallacy but it also makes you an asshole. Of course I'll admit, I've been guilty of this in the past and probably will be again sometime in the future but that doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that it's wrong. I think a big part of the problem is that people tend to feel the need to have an opinion on everything, even when they aren't the least bit informed on it. Now there are subconscious ways for human beings to make judgments on almost anything: things work or they don't work, food tastes good or it doesn't, etc. But these judgments exist for personal use only. Without the underlying details to articulate what the problems really are, they're meaningless in the cultural landscape. In the context of music, most people (myself included) don't know all of the details to really make effective judgments on what's good to anyone but ourselves.

All criticism should really act as a form of conversation anyway, which is why you should never let anyone really get away with saying something unconstructive. When someone says "Man Nickelback/Creed really suck", why leave it at that? Well most people can't articulate their visceral responses to music and that's fine, but hating a form of media for the sake of hating it isn't really productive, there's always something to learn from even the most poorly executed music.

The wonderful thing about living in today's society is that if we don't like something, we can merely turn it off and there's always something else we can turn on. It says something about us when we're willing to bear something we don't like just for the sake of saying we don't like it. Weird. But for now, I think I'd like to stay away from the whole awesome/sucks cultural dynamic and embrace things as they come. With arms wide open.*

*I totally didn't write this blog post around that awesome Creed punchline at the end, though that's totally something I would do.

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