May 16, 2004



I am getting the picture now: The new idea for Playlist at The New York Times is to find some rockist cracker and let him loose, because Rock Is Back (no, wait, that's too dumb-sounding, we don't actually want to embrace all of rock); White People Are Back (no, that's racist, we know that's bad); Funny, Self-Deprecating People Are Back (no--that's too stuffy, like the old Times); Rock Is Back! Right, that's it, everyone will know what we mean. That albumoriffic system of meaning and blindness is "back," contrary to empirical data and a quick spin of your radio radio dial, but so what? Let's watch Stephen Merritt swing a scythe through the fields of popular music with a blindfold on. Huh! Seven "great" new pop records and not a person of color involved in a single one. That's one magical, coincidence-prone scythe you got there, Stephen. It's just his taste, man. It doesn't mean anything. They had Usher in there a few weeks ago. Lighten up.

You could unpack the idea of Morrissey as the "best lyricist in rock" or the castrati fantasy or the differential treatment of people using electronic instruments. You could go back to the New York interview and note how eager Merritt is to dismiss Beyoncé, OutKast, Britney and Justin, not just as singers and songwriters but as bearers of meaning. That's a bias. Two women, three people of color and one white artist openly in love with black American music. That's who he's biased against. You could say there's no pattern here and that taste indicates nothing more than individual psychology. You would then, hopefully, let me get a taste of whatever has made you so HIGH. Immediate action steps? Get that fucking chihuahua away from me, NOW.

Posted by Sasha at May 16, 2004 11:47 AM | TrackBack