Revolutionzing the economics of popular culture?
Here's a little excerpt from a column by music critic Barry Ulanov:
"Itís extraordinary that year after year, decade after decade, the beautifully polished machinery of manufactured spontaneous combustion can be set in motion in our popular culture without any protest, or with no more than the most timid and tentative sort of objection. One cannot help wondering about the broader implications of this procedure. If a whole country can be such a pushover for a song and a dance, what does that suggest about that same nationís political susceptibilities?"
This succintly describes an aspect of the climate of popular music on the radio these days. It also makes what I feel is a solid connection between our apathy about what we're fed on the radio and the apathy of most people to engage in political participation.
Thing is, Ulanov wrote that in 1957. The voice of protest has always been around in popular culture, and it's scary to see how little the arguments have changed over the decades. Makes you wonder whether activists like downhillbattle.org and the groups who preceded them (Ulanov was a big advocate for the economic independence of musicians in the 1950s) have studied the history of previous (failed) attempts to transform the economics of popular culture.
Hey, maybe they have. In fact, I wish them the best of luck. But while the prospect of revolution is always exciting, I'm skeptical about whether it's realistic, or more importantly, whether their vision of completely evading the need for an industry middle man has any possibility of longevity.
Most of all, I'd rather not be reading the same recycled arguments for cultural revolution years down the road.
Posted by matt at January 27, 2004 04:15 PM