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Friday, January 06, 2006
OK, let's just knock down this bullshit idea once and for all:

Only one full-fledged star tried that in 2005: Kanye West, whose second album, "Late Registration," exulted in his own success without settling into formula. The album expanded his musical sources, found comedy and sorrow, and raised questions about temptations and responsibilities amid the boasts. He even acted like a star by daring to make a controversial statement - "George Bush doesn't care about black people" - on live television. Mr. West's year was a rare show of the old pop ambition - the kind that's validated by album sales and radio play, that pleases a mass audience but doesn't kowtow to it.

It's going to be harder to maintain that kind of large-scale public dialogue in a culture of atomized individual preferences. Independent companies, small and large, are claiming an ever larger part of the music market, bypassing radio to apply the old do-it-yourself strategies of touring and noncommercial media, and the newer ones of file-sharing and word-of-blog.
How many goddamn times do we have to see something posted on every single goddamn website you care to click on before we stop saying that an "atomized" media (right, like individual consumption preferences weren't atomized before) aggregates to pretty much the same thing as a mass media when it wants to, that if lots of people like something they don't all have to see it on TV at the same time, they can e-mail it to each other? Do we have to mention the fact that the mass media still exists and that a lot of what gets aggregated on the web comes from the mass media? Do we have to remind everyone that ambition is almost never something based in reality and pretty much always goes unfulfilled?

In other words, please let's stop saying that the multiplication and formalization of subcultures is going to kill mass culture, because they're two sides of the same damn coin. Thanks.