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Monday, October 13, 2003
I'm not sure that I need to say anything else about the below-mentioned response aside from the fact that it unironically quotes Chuck Palahniuk's extremely ironic Fight Club--"You are not your fucking khakis."--a quote which itself rings true to the highly problematic Adbusters aesthetic. But hey, why stop there? Why not point out this section:

And I also refuse to accept the notion that someone rocking out to "Mr. Roboto" in their car with a big shit-eating grin on their face is an actual experiencing of art. It's the equivalent of laughing at retarded people falling down. It rises out of a certain innate cruelty within the human condition -- pretending that stupid things are really clever because it's funny.

..and wonder if he really means to imply that a) Styx are actually retarded, not just untalented musicians; b) hearing "Mr. Roboto" is embarrassing; c) playing "Mr. Roboto" is physically painful, like falling down; d) dancing=cruelty; e) Styx can see you every time you dance; and f) are mad at you for doing so. (Especially interesting to me because it mirrors a discussion on wallace-l of late--start there and keep going, "SecondFate" being the main instigator--which claimed, somewhat more convincingly, that making jokes about real people's deaths is cruel. That was stupid, but, amazingly, less stupid than the idea of dancing=cruelty.)

There's this:

Of course, Doughty is smarter than most of the people writing pop music. So am I, for that matter. So is my garbage man.

...which makes me wonder if this guy knows anything at all. The implication--that most people are smarter than the people writing pop music--is just dumb. Athletes, OK; true or not, I could understand the claim that most people are smarter than athletes. Their profession mainly involves their bodies. But writing music is solely a mental activity. You can't be too stupid if you're doing that, and for sure "most of the people writing pop music" are pretty smart. It doesn't take a whole lot of either research or logic to figure this one out. But, then again, we do tend to think that the people who have different tastes from us have to be stupider than us, don't we?

Oh, and there's this...

What this attitude has led to, in my opinion, is a musical climate in which nobody bothers to be serious, except the people who aren't very good at it, like Britney Spears. All the indie kids are so caught up in perfecting the art of the ironic pop song because most of them seem really afraid to put it out there, to actually go "Yeah, I wrote this song, and yeah, I fucking mean it." The ones that do -- the Dashboard Confessionals school of lacrymosa-pop -- are just stupid and awful.

What country are you living in, dude? Have you not seen the hordes of earnest Godspeed imitators? The legions of serious laptop diddlers? The mountains of spazzy noise-coreans? Some of indie rock, maybe the most visible part, like "irony" (although you appear to mean less "irony" and more "retro"), but as far as I can see at least as many, if not more, are wanky experimental kids. And even a lot of the retro people are pretty damn serious about it. The Strokes rarely crack a smile. Interpol made a career out of being po-faced. They all mean it, man. They just mean it in different ways. You just seem to be pining for a emo band you can play for your friends without being embarrassed.

And, finally, there's this, which I'm quoting in full.

Cheap irony is why most music is such shit right now. Even the good stuff is remarkably self-similar -- your Sigur Róses and your Ladytrons and your Lali Punas and your Postal Services. There are some good roads being taken in ambient-pop and electroclash, but the good stuff tends to go unnoticed by the vast herds of clone children with their ironic t-shirts and their hideous haircuts. They may own (), but they're not listening to it on a regular basis...because they can't process what it's supposed to do for them. It's like being color blind.

I stood at the back of the Sigur Rós show and was almost literally moved to tears by what I was witnessing. The kids around me were chatting with each other, having drinks, babbling on about each others' clothes. They couldn't see what I was seeing. I felt sorry for them...but part of me, the angry part, wanted to grab them by the back of the neck like a kitten and push them to the front of the stage. Do you understand what you're hearing here? Does it have any emotional impact on you? Clearly you bought the tickets for the fucking show; did you only do so because your friends were gonna go, and you wouldn't look cool if you didn't go as well? You fucking pigs.

Of course, I could be wrong. Jónsi Birgisson might just want to be a coked-out rock star. He might just be ironically riffing on old Brian Eno albums and Björk outtakes. Lali Puna might just be really wanting to make Giorgio Moroder dance music for the Kids™.

But I don't think so. I think they mean what they're saying. And that's why most American audiences -- raised on Ritalin, incapable of anything like true emotion, just aggressiveness and hysteria -- don't get this music. They want disco. They want cool, not warm. They don't think, can't think, so their idea of intellectual music is Weezer. They want to destroy their sweaters. This is what passes for smart rock.

Sweet Jesus, man, you're subjecting us to this because people talked during a goddamn Sigur Ros concert? Because they interrupted your fucking crying? Could you please spare us, or at the very least realize, like the rest of us, that your music fandom is vaguely ridiculous at times, and when you're feeling sorry for and angry at the people that aren't crying at a Scandinavian slowcore show, that's the kind of thing I'm talking about. (Oh, and you've got an anti-irony rant going and throw in Ladytron? Huh?)

Do I even need to say that this is more AUR bullshit? Well, let's just come right out with it: you are not a cultural rebel, dude. There are many, many, many others like you, who like the same music you do, who like to think they're being intellectual whilst consuming pop music. The ignorant masses are neither repressing you nor "the music." "The music" is fine. Everyone is still free to make whatever they want, and by and large, most people do. Just because the Strokes are on MTV doesn't mean you can't put on One Mile North (who I love, incidentally) and leave the rest of us alone. Because you know what? We can all think, despite your claims to the contrary. And just because someone likes Weezer doesn't mean they don't like Jim O'Rourke in just as sincere a way. Just because they don't have the same musical tastes as you doesn't mean they're stupid. And just because you can't find emotion in disco doesn't mean there's none there.