Posts Tagged ‘melrose place’

The Virus of Mediocrity

March 11, 2011

To comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable – Cesar A Cruz

There exists a conflict of idealized peaks in the world of art. Take a moment to chew on the following:

What you don’t read  (or watch, listen to, etc) matters as much as what you do read.

If you are like me, you think the above pretty much the case, that exposure to the lesser arts can only make you dumber, less interesting, corrupted, and soft. Many think that danger doesn’t exist, that one can move freely and without consequence between doses of  Goosebumps and Gore Vidal.

Imagine you are charged with picking one of two extremes for a high school student. In the first, the student is exposed to nothing but the lowest common denominator from the world of arts. Popular young adult situation comedies, top 40 radio hits, and mass market fiction. Their high school career spent ignorant of anything but what is easily digestible and then forgotten. In the other extreme is challenging literature, film, and music, all of which serve to enhance the students understanding and appreciation for the human experience. Your pick.

Now, those extremes are unrealistic and unfair, and it is obvious that one cannot spend 100% of their time in either the intellectually stimulating ivory tower, or caked in Pizza Pop residue and plopped in front of Melrose Place. However, if you accept that one extreme is preferable over the other (or even a more moderate version of the above scenario that nonetheless emphasizes one approach) then you must acknowledge that it matters what we watch/read/listen to.

However, the above is almost beside the point. The question at hand is whether anyone can be worse off for what art (or craft) they have been exposed to, not for what they have missed. Can the brilliantly erudite aficionado of the complete works of the artistic greats be somehow damaged for attending a Coldplay concert? I will argue he can.

Coldplay are catchy. They are also nauseatingly sentimental, two dimensional, obvious, uninspired, and totally lacking in anything  substantive. The fact that adults listen to this worthless and altogether trite dredge is a tragedy, but they are catchy. Catchy isn’t a problem, and nor is it easy. Many a band attempted little more than to compose a single head-bobber and failed. But Coldplay’s catchyness is the musical equivalent of thinly veiled propaganda serving as a vehicle for  shallow poetry and cynical contrivance.

But here I was not six months ago walking along and idly muttering a melody “Look at the stars, Look how they shine for you…” They got me. Stuck in my peon brain is this tired dreck. It took no conscious effort to summon the lyrics and melody – they are with me forever, potentially inserting themselves into whatever other endeavor I attempt, musical or no, and maybe even without my knowledge.

No artist exists in a vacuum is obvious to everyone. What might not be so obvious, is that maybe they should do their best to do just that.

Robin Lindsay



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