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PaulEdwardWagemann

Rockism: Good or Bad?

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Rockism took quite a beating last year and the year before, but since then the tides have begun to change. At first many of the old guard Rockists sat watching and did nothing as Rockism got smeared. A few tried feebly to defend Rockism, but more recently a new approach has been taken. Since Kurt Cobain redefined mainstream Rock in the early 90's it has become in vouge to incorporate his vision into Rockism. This means no more racism, sexism, homo-phobia and it also means that Indieism is good and Corporate Rock is bad...

Please share you thoughts about this ongoing debate and the future of Rockism...

Here are some links to some of the more highly profiled articles against Rockism from the last year:

http://rocknerd.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/02/0 010252&mode=thread&tid=2

http://www.seattleweekly.com/music/0518/05050 4_music_smallmouth.html

http://www.rhino.com/rzine/storykeeper.lasso? storyID=715

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockism

Edited by Guest

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To be honest , I've never even heard of this school of thought before you mentioned it , and, thus , couldn't even offer a lame one .

The links I provide kindof go over some of the basics. Rockism was a term first used in the 80s as a way of putting music into context in order to define quality in music. Certain tennants were recognized, but Kurt CObain sorta knocked down many of these tennants and since then there has been a new school of Rockism. This new school is above some of the things that were kindof accepted in the old school. For instance sexism, homophobia, racism(arguably), self-indulgance, etc. Perhaps most importantly the new school embraced the DIY spirit of the punks so that any band that is corporate rock sucks and any band that is Indie is good.

The problem is that a lot of the new school ways have put the emphasis on image. They also seem more uptight (some are a bit posuerish) and not as much fun. Often musically alot of new bands copy a lot from the old school bands, but one of the biggest criticism of the new school is that the vocals seem whiney and overall the bands dont have as much of the 'fun' spirit...

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There are still plenty of bands around that could be considered "authentic" (whatever that means). It's a huge mistake to only look at mainstream groups - they're mainstream because they have the "machine" behind them. People are so quick to bash music today, but are nowhere near quick enough in seeking out something that's beyond the radio dial.

I don't find "Rockism" to be a very valid movement, or whatever it is. To me "authenticity" is impossible to prove or establish in a field that essentially has no rules to begin with. Pro Tools is used by every mainstream pop person, so the technology is considered a liability. Does that not mean that anybody who has recorded an album since the days of analog tape isn't legit? By that thinking, anyone who didn't record their album on a phonograph cylinder should also be condemned. Or what about anyone who ever plugged in an amplifier?

I'm sure rockism has some validity that I'm not seeing, but I don't particular agree with the sentiment behind it. Personally, I can get beyond image, content, technique, etc., as long as the end product is worthy.

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I'm sure rockism has some validity that I'm not seeing, but I don't particular agree with the sentiment behind it. Personally, I can get beyond image, content, technique, etc., as long as the end product is worthy.

But certainly content, technique, influences, etc all go into the making of the 'product', right? So why not examine those things? That's what Rockism is essentially about. If the music is of high quality, then try and understand why it is of high quality. And if the music is crap, then try and figure out that as well...

Edited by Guest

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I have no problem with someone wanting to examine why something is good or not good. This particular outlook seems a bit elitist to me, and I am a gigantic snob. It seems to display a tendency to dismiss something based on trivial things. I could care less about instrumentation or recording medium, much less image - again, if the music is good. If the only thing a song has going for it is a bazouki, the latest version of Pro Tools and a half-naked singer (or a dude with makeup and spiked hair) then I couldn't care less about it. I'm not defending or opposing technology; I'm only saying that it is of little consequence to me.

This quote, from the Wikipedia link to your blog, is a big part of why I don't agree with Rockism:

"Here were an entire army of bands doing Rock pretty much the way it was supposed to be done."

According to personal opinion, maybe. There is no official rulebook for how to be a rock band. It's all subjective. If I like it, great for me. You may hate it, or vice versa. I can sit here and try to explain to why I think a song is good, but that's not going to necessarily affect your personal perception of it. Just don't tell me that you don't like it because "that's not the way they used to do it." I can only see that as a copout.

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I have no problem with someone wanting to examine why something is good or not good. This particular outlook seems a bit elitist to me, and I am a gigantic snob.

I'm not an elitist, but it seems to me that it is only human nature to be inquisitive about why you like something or to have a curiouslity as to why you find something to be of high quality...

This quote, from the Wikipedia link to your blog, is a big part of why I don't agree with Rockism:

"Here were an entire army of bands doing Rock pretty much the way it was supposed to be done."

According to personal opinion, maybe. There is no official rulebook for how to be a rock band. It's all subjective. If I like it, great for me. You may hate it, or vice versa.

Right, when I wrote that statement it wasn't my personal opinion that grunge music was the way Rock was supposed to be made. It was more of away of describing the consensus of how Rock critics saw Grunge. Fromthe way I wrote it, I can see why you would think that to be my opinion. I should probablly rewrite that to be honest.

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Sorry, Paul - I didn't mean that being inquisitive was elitist. I just constructed that paragraph horribly. :)

By "this particular outlook" I meant rockism on the whole.

I see what you mean. One of the big criticisms of Rockism is exactly what you brought up. People think Rockism is telling them how Rock (or music in general) should be made as if Rockism is a theory on how to make quality music. But IMO what Rockism really is is just a method of putting music that has already been made into context and evaluating it on those merits.

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I would think listening to be the single most important part.

Understanding what you're hearing is great, but it also ruins a bit of the magic.

Very succinctly put, Das.

Example: Angelique Kidjo and her music defy pigeon-holing or definitive genre reading, I cannot understand any of her non-English lyrics at all, but thank God, she sings to my deeper heart and I am the better for it.

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