Jul. 21st, 2006

oneirophrenia: (Nivek!)
You know...I've never had any respect for critics working for music magazines and/or websites. They are, to a one, awful writers, and--even worse--have appallingly bad taste in music. Witness the completely unwarranted fawning Rolling Stone, the godfather of all pointless magazines, always gives any "classic rock survivors" such as--surprise, surprise--the Rolling Stones when they issue yet another album of waaaaaaaay-past-their-prime drivel. Pitchfork Media cannot stop masturbating to the sound of their own voices praising and re-praising everything Radiohead and Thom "If I Whine More I'll Sound More Authentic" Yorke have ever put out. And then, worst of all, there's Blender--the music magazine that honestly has so little conception of just what makes certain types of music good that they actually define the "goodness" of music by its "popularity."

Today I stumbled upon Blender's "50 Worst Artists in Music History" and decided...hell, I'm home from work and I feel cruddy, so I might as well read this tripe and maybe find something to laugh at.

Amazingly enough, the list begins auspiciously with Iron Butterfly in the Number 50 slot. Now, I like the radio edit of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" a lot, but the album version is just too much--and that says a lot, because I'm a total prog-rock madman who seriously gets a raging woodrow when he hears a 25-minute song with fifteen different time-sig changes, bass/drum/guitar/triangle/didgeridoo/etc. solos, and the like. Next up, in 49: Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Here's where I felt my Eyebrow of Consternation begin to inch up a bit. Toad the Wet Sprocket? Despite the fact that my ex Jennifer really liked them, I still have a great modicum of interest in these guys' music. It's nothing special, but it's good American mope-rock in the vein of The Gin Blossoms. OK, on to the next.

Master P, Goo Goo Dolls, The Spin Doctors, Gipsy Kings (their shitty later stuff, not their awesome first album), Mike and the Mechanics...OK, yeah, I can see that. Those bands all fucking suck. But wait. Manowar? Manowar is stonecold METAL! You cannot deny it. Yes, they're cheesy as hell...but that's what they're all about. They're well aware of that.

And then, what do I see? The Doors? Sure...the Doors are heavily overrated, but just judging them by their influence on so many follow-up bands (like Echo & The Bunnymen, for christ's sake), they have to earn a certain amount of props. By this point in the article, I'd begun to wonder just how much of this was pseudo-ironic, as the hipster/pop-idiot crowd that Blender caters to revels in that kind of clumsy "wit". But this wasn't wit at all. These dummies actually mean what they say, apparently.

But then we've got 98 Degrees (fuck you, LaChey), Paul Oakenfold, Live...and Japan. David Sylvian is one of my idols, so Blender earns their second big ol' Fuck You there. But the worst was to come.

Right after Richard Marx...I find Skinny Puppy.

WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWHAT?!

Witness!

29 SKINNY PUPPY
The audience rarely sang along to “Dogshit”

And so it came to pass in the 1980s that two Canadian Kevins changedtheir names to cEvin and Nivek in order to make themselves more interesting, hired a singer named Dwayne (who would die of a heroin overdose) and spent almost a decade making ear-torturing industrial music. The sound of whiny students on drugs sampling Timothy Leary — as scary as Mannheim Steamroller.
Appalling fact On the Head Trauma tour, cEvin sliced open his stomach with broken glass and performed a vivisection. Relax, everyone — he was only pretending.
Worst CD Too Dark Park (Nettwerk, 1990)

Huh? All right, who's the dumb son-of-a-bitch who actually noted in the above piece that Dwayne was hired as a vocalist? This obviously indicates that the moron didn't even bother to look up anything concerning the band before writing the above paragraph.

Sure. There are plenty of people who don't like Skinny Puppy--and that's their prerogative. And they have every right to, ahem, write anything they want about their dislike of said band--but what truly annoys me about this article in Blender, and about this same kind of tripe found in various other music mags/webzines, is that it's not critical at all. When a critic gives something a bad review, it's because said critic finds something in the music lacking, distasteful, or incomprehensible...but that critic will often at least be able to know something about the music and/or group he's lambasting in order to point out specifically why that music is bad. For instance, I can easily tell you to avoid buying Radio 4's new album, Enemies Like This, because it's total shit. But what does that mean? What gives me cause--and warrant--to say that? Well...I'm an avid post-punk/New Wave junkie who can rattle off the release dates of every single one of Gary Numan's albums and I've listened to so much New Wave music that I can at least be able to tell you particulars of what makes that album so bad. Example: their previous album, Stealing of a Nation was an amazingly fun, if somewhat cliched, New Wave dance album that featured a beautiful, traditional-New-Wave mix of synths and guitars, the bass being especially prominent and funky in straight-up awesome Gang-of-Four fashion. The new album, though, is nothing but stripped-down, synthless, and very, very basic indie rock that sounds like Weezer trying to be The Clash. Radio 4 have lost every bit of individuality they had and now sound just like She Wants Revenge...which will get 'em played in every Hot Topic, sure, but sure doesn't give a New Wave maniac like myself much to be proud of.

If I were to compile a "50 Worst Artists" collection--and believe me, I could--I'd at least give a handful of interesting and well-thought-out reasons for what those artists are on my list. Only in a handful of cases have the Blender staff done this in their list--and only when the reasons for putting an artist on the list are absolutely apparent. For example: Milli Vanilli, whose lipsynching fiasco and subsequent revelation of "vocal fraud" lost them their Grammy. OF COURSE someone like that is going to be on the list, and OF COURSE the reason is going to be listed!

But don't insult my intelligence and the intelligence of people who actually know something about music in all its diverse forms by merely pointing at an artist, giving a few random facts about them (some of which are obviously wrong), and then--in essence--crowing: "HA! HA! We're Blender and because we work for a MAGAZINE that highschool kids read to learn what is cool we have just PWNED J00!"

That's the literary equivalent of me standing on a soapbox in front of a college and laughing at all the kids walking by wearing H.I.M. t-shirts. (Which I wouldn't do, 'cause I like H.I.M. a lot.) It's not constructive criticism, and it's not even properly destructive--it neither points out fixable flaws or digs its bloody fingernails beneath fatal flaws and flays a useless artist in public. It's just wasted breath.

Or wasted words.

At least have some respect for the dullards you're savaging and spend a little time thinking about exactly why they suck so much.
oneirophrenia: (Mr. Rogers)
Congress to blow $750 million to promote marriage and "better fathers">

Could it ever possibly occurr to these braindead religious idiots that perhaps marriages fail because our society as a whole has grown beyond the need for marriage? Cultural institutions change over time, and marriage is nothing more than a vestigial organ left over from a time in which it WAS a useful practice to determine and legitimize inheritance and maintain family records. Marriage is technically useless in today's cultural and legal milieux...but yet, thanks to the fact that we're still in the period of transition during which we're slowly waking up to the fact, church-bound morons still proclaim that marriage is the It Thing and dumbass laypeople still believe it to be true. So what happens? They get married, believing that the myth of Eternal Love will keep them together forever, despite the overwhelming evidence that that myth is about as valid as the Micmac Creation Narrative...and then what happens? The marriage inevitably falls apart. Because rather than exploring and developing a true commitment between caring partners, we have people being pressured by vestigial social standards into idiotic legal contracts to falsely "legitimize" a child's birth or perpetuate an exploded myth.

And now Congress is wasting 3/4 of a BILLION dollars on propping up this already-collapsed edifice? That's like spending money to rebuild the World Trade Center from the chunks of rubble scraped off of Ground Zero! A futile, wasteful, and simply stupid cause.

There is one tiny shred of nobility in this program, but it's completely swamped in ridiculous Christian rhetoric:

Supporters say that if the government can get more low-income parents to tie the knot and help them work through the rough spots that inevitably occur, then those families are less likely to need federal assistance in later years.


So...in essence, what these supporters are saying is this: Get the darkies and the white trash to pool their incomes by marrying each other so they won't need to be on welfare. A typical Republican response. Now, weening people off of federal assistance is a good thing--I'm a firm believer in each person having to stand on his or her own two feet...to a degree. But take one look at my county of residence, good ol' Fayette County PA, and you'll see that for every three people milking the welfare system for "laziness money", there are one or two who truly need it. I've an ex-student who is a single mother, for instance. She got married in her late twenties because she believed in the myth of Eternal Love, and had a child...after which, her worthless husband began slapping her--and her daughter--around like they were his property. She immediately divorced his useless ass and, luckily, got full custody of the young'un. She has a degree in finance, and works three part-time jobs because that's all she can get. There just aren't any jobs in this shithole county. In order to help her get food for her daughter, she gets food stamps or whatever they're called now. Well, hell, now! say the Republicans: if she would've strengthened her marriage to John the Wife Beater and just stuck with it, she wouldn't need the grub-stubs because she'd be a member of a "stable family unit" that could earn enough to keep her off the government tit.

Way to go, folks. On the one hand, you fuckers are talking about the sanctity of marriage and the need for "healthy, stable, married relationships" as if it's still some kind of blessed Hebrew sacrament...and yet...in the wording above, doesn't it sound a lot like you're equating marriage with economics primarily? Get the poor people married so they can help each other out and not live their lives on federal aid.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

This is just another Bush Administration splurge in the name of populist religion-mongering. Yes, children who grow up in stable households are more healthy, less prone to social problems, and so forth--social psychologists, philosophers, and everyday parents like mine have known this for centuries. But what, precisely, defines a "stable household"? I know PLENTY of single mothers' whose lives may be tough, but they sure as hell provide a perfectly comfortable, loving, and educational environment for their children--and their children are, concommitantly, perfectly well-adjusted future citizens. I know PLENTY of couples who have children but are not legally married, and their households are the same. In fact, I know quite a few formerly-married couples who have since split but continue to raise their children in separate, but stable, environments!

However, I know of only three marriages which are stable and comfortable enough to provide a decent environment for children. Most of the people I know who are married are abysmally miserable. And they frequently take it out on their children.

So, Mr. Bush and the Republican Party...how does spending money on mentoring programs and the like for marriage really make things better? Marriage is irrelevant. IRRELEVANT. Little more than a vermiform appendix kept around for legal and traditional reasons. I have no problem with people getting married if they want to, for whatever reasons--misguided though they usually are: if two people want to make that official, paper-certified committment, they're more than free to do so. And many of them will make a perfectly good go of it, too. But let's not confuse the issue here. Marriage does not necessarily lead to stable homes. There are societal issues rooted a lot deeper than some calcified tradition. Why not spend money on educating children in personal responsibility? Why not spend the money on highschool sexual education programs that aim to destroy rampant teenage misconceptions of birth control and the consequences of having a child you are not prepared to take care of? Why not spend the money on investigating welfare fraud so that more of the cash being sucked up by the terminally lazy can be directed to those who legitimately need it?

Oh, wait. Can't do that. Baby Jesus would frown on anything that supports "immoral" lifestyles and encourages kids to have sex and being homosexual and probably read Harry Potter books, too.
oneirophrenia: (Contemplative Doctor)
I'm all for gay marriage. I mean...if anyone wants to go through the routine, they have the right to do so.

But check it out:

The lesbian couple whose landmark lawsuit helped Massachusetts become the only state in America where same-sex couples can marry legally have split up, a spokeswoman said Friday.

They have not filed for divorce, but it's clear the "marriage" is over. So be it. At least they realize that marriage is NOT the be-all-and-end-all of existence. A spokewoman for the separated couple notes that they are "amicably living apart" and "[a]s always their number one priority is raising their daughter."

OK, the marriage is done. But I don't see much in those above statements to believe that the separation has in any way created a toxic of difficult environment for the child involved. Both partners are still committed to raising her properly...so, in the end, the marriage itself seems pretty redundant, doesn't it?
oneirophrenia: (Dracula 1)
just say no.

I thought for a minute the article was going to be about some doof luring women to his apartment with promises of making them immortal, only to end up munching on their boobies or something...but no--the truth is a LOT more pathetic.

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