Antirockists have never had the slightest actual interest in the people they call "rockists" or in the phenomena they call "rockism." So the conversation has been about defeating phantom enemies rather than about understanding the world.** This makes antirockists frustrating but it doesn't always make them boring, since their beating up on "rockism" is an attempt to use a crowbar or pole vault to get out from under something — even if they won't figure out what it is in themselves and their world they're trying to surmount.
This is what I wrote. I do urge you to click the two Rules Of The Game columns I link down at the bottom of my third comment. Might help your wheelbarrow gain traction.
Frank Kogan Posting to say "Hi" to a bunch of friends I've been mostly out of touch with, though given what I'm going to say you might have wished I'd stayed silent. Also posting so that I can keep seeing this thread as it or if it continues to unwind. (I'm only seeing it 'cause my one and only Facebook friend posted on it, and via Facebook's algorithm or something it'll disappear from my view shortly if I don't. I'm trying to not really be on Facebook so don't try to friend me, or feel offended if I don't friend you back.)*Ann's thread-starting post went, "I'm overwhelmed by the hyperbole surrounding Lemonade, yet I do think Beyonce might be the one to have finally and fully defeated rockism." I downloaded the whole thread and can email it to you if you'd rather read it that way, with the "See More"s clicked and the nested threads expanded. Or you can click the link. As I said, that the thread is stupid and floundering doesn't necessarily make it boring.
I'm somewhat dismayed that there are only a few names on here I DON'T recognize. I don't know if I've run into Eric Johnson before, but from what he's written on this thread I'd like to read more of him now. (Doesn't mean I wouldn't want to read more of the rest of you, too.)
Like RJ I think the term "rockist" is hopeless, but contra that, I doubt that this thread would have gotten much attention if Ann had used another term. Anyway, if we're stuck with it, I'll say this:
I'm more rockist than I am antirockist, and I strongly doubt that Beyoncé has finally and fully defeated me, okay? And what I mean is that I think a lot of life, culture, social systems, etc. are phony, false, dishonest, corrupt, boring, etc. even or especially on their own terms. Intentionally or no on the performers' part, a lot of '60s music had embedded in its ideals (and by association in its sound) that it was stepping outside or around or at least putting itself at odds with the boredom and the corruption, and implicit in this was the worldview or suspicion or feeling or fear that anyone including me, including you could be and probably was contaminated by the lameness, corruption, etc. A lot of the music was full of posturing in its claim to this worldview and these ideals, but that's not the point. Almost all attempts at musical "authenticity" in the last 50 years draw on this sort of worldview and these ideals. amd tjat
Like · Reply · May 8 at 10:51am
Frank Kogan ...And they draw a lot of their strength from this (as argument if not as music, anyway). Anyway, you can say, sputteringly, "But... but... rockism is when people say that only rock embodies these ideals," or something, but (1) I doubt that anyone says this,*** and (2) if you don't like it when rock makes such claims, or rock fans make such claims, why is it okay for YOU to make such claims on behalf of nonrock, or yourselves? (Assuming that you do.) Anyway, I think these ideals — authenticity ideals — and this worldview are basically right, at least a lot of the time I think so, and I think you think they are too. And it seems arbitrary and wrong to say, "Well, when stupid people do this with bad results it's rockism, but when WE do it in opposition to these stupid people it's antirockism." Antirockism is just rockism with a few of the words changed.
("Authenticity" is almost as hopeless a term as "rockism" is, but it, or something like it, "real," for instance, is essential, at least as an adjective, "authentic.")
Anyway, I've learned nothing new from this thread so far, and I've said nothing I haven't said before (and better elsewhere). I think you all are capable of way better, and I don't get the praise for a discourse where no one learns anything or changes in the course of the conversation. Yes, Chuck, I sound like a broken record, don't I? —But Ann, how could you NOT know that Chuck and Simon R. and John D. etc. weren't going to show up and say what they did? And why didn't you take their ideas into account when you made your initial post?
Like · Reply · May 8 at 11:14am
Frank Kogan I think I had too many canceling negatives in that final sentence (but anyway, how could you not KNOW they were going to say what they said, and how come you didn't anticipate their ideas in advance?).
My laziness: I haven't heard LEMONADE yet. I like Beyoncé but haven't gotten around to her in years. Is there something new and unexpected on the record? (Not that "new" and "unexpected" mean "good"; they are kind of rock ideals, though, the delivering-us-from-days-of-old thing, and are more likely to get my attention than their opposites.)
Continuing my laziness: I didn't click the links to reread the Sanneh or the Wolk. I like 'em both as writers but thought each of those pieces was dumb (recognizing that for some people those pieces may have introduced them to a subject they'd known nothing about). Yeah, my memory may be wrong and ungenerous. But, if you think their arguments are good, don't just link the arguments. State the arguments. Arguing by links is a drag.
That said, here are a couple of old pieces of mine, not about rockism but about antirockism, and about why I'm not — that's n-o-t — an antirockist. I'm sure I'm being insufferable, but I really think you need not only to read them but to master what's in them. (Not that I can claim a lot originality. It's basically Romanticism 101.)
But if your time is short, I recommend the second one more than the first, and the second half of the second one more than the first half:
The Rules Of The Game No. 31: Rockism And Antirockism Rise From The Dead
The Rules Of The Game No. 32: Where The Real Wild Things Are
Like · Reply · May 8 at 11:42am
Frank Kogan Maybe to clarify things: the most interesting statement in this thread is this from Eric W.: "the white male counterculture went out of its way to transcommodify and coopt the role of outsider, rebel, disruptor." Now I think there's a lot that's strong and a lot that's wrong about that statement, much worth exploring; but for the purposes of this thread the point to make is that the statement is totally, overwhelmingly, MASSIVELY rockist. I'd point to it as embodying the essence of rockism. Now, I'm using "rockist" as a descriptive here, not a pejorative. But the fact that I'm seeing a statement as obviously, screamingly rockist, whereas Eric, who made the statement, thinks he's being antirockist, just underlines RJ's point: we shouldn't use the words "rockist" and "rockism." They're a barrier to thought. They encompass too much and end up vacuous.
What I find prototypically and stereotypically rockist in Eric's statement is that it calls out a phenomenon (the "counterculture") for being phony and white and pandering and commercial in relation to truer phenomena that are the real deal, more genuinely out and rebellious and disruptive (and possibly darker skinned, as well). This basically IS the rockist argument against pop, though in Eric's case the type of pop that's getting called out as fake is called "rock." That there's some merit in Eric's statement just underlines that there's some merit in the rockist distrust of pop, too. —Contra Chuck and Simon, I don't think that "if rockism means anything it's This is a Significant Piece of Work by One Of The Most Important Artists of Our Time." Rockism is about who's real and who's fake, and who's got integrity and who's been compromised. That's why rockist statements keep recurring and have cultural force, because people feel compromised.
I'm not claiming, by the way, that people who make the sort of statements that jump out at me as "rockist" are evidencing some sort of ideological commitment and thought-out critique. It's usually just people spouting off, having some preference and reaching into the culture for words supporting the preference, words that feel strong and true when you say them even if they contradict what you said 10 minutes ago and are going to say 10 minutes later.
Like · Reply · May 12 at 12:58am
Frank Kogan One thing I find extremely problematic in Eric's statement is that it seems to conflate "outsider" and "disruptor." Then again, that's one thing that's problematic about a lot of rock and pop and disco (etc.) too. It's something people like Bob Dylan found problematic about themselves, I'm sure.
Like · Reply · May 12 at 1:09am
I'm trying not to really be on Facebook. I joined Facebook and friended Tina LaConte (who's now dropped me or cut herself loose) so that she could give me an invite to the Campus Restaurant Revisited community (the Campus Restaurant was the freak hangout across from my high school). I friended David Cooper Moore because that was the only way he could get me onto Turntable FM, which no longer exists. Besides Dave and CRR, the only things that ever appear on my Facebook feed are Montgomery Gentry and the Kinks, whom I'd listed in my music interests. (But how come Tymee and T-ara and Ashlee never show up?) Ann's thread came into sight when Dave posted on it.
**Btw. I don't think that this is a tradeoff you have to make. You can both defeat an enemy and understand her. In fact the latter ought to help you do the former. But my rockwrite/musicwrite world's failure to even try to understand just highlights my contention that it's pretty thoroughly capitulated to what I've been calling the "hallway," to the need to position oneself in relation to other people at the expense of understanding the world. (Again, that shouldn't be a tradeoff. Doing one well ought to make you better at the other.)
***Says that only rock embodies these ideals, that is.