Music bigots anonymous
The question on my mind lately has been whether music is the great unifier or the great divider. My conclusion was decidedly inconclusive. It’s both. I know that’s not the verdict you’d like to hear, but it’s true. It should be the great unifier, and often is, but in many social circles, it is used as a means of social elitism.
We define who we are and who we like based on shared musical interests. Myspace lists an area to list favorite bands, and every hipster, emo, thug, frat boy, and bro probably takes special pains to make a comprehensive list that shows how amazingly cool his taste in music is. I know that I’ve thought too much and too hard over what my criteria is for my Myspace music section.
Everyone seems to have very definitive ideas on what music is deemed cool, and seems to believe this opinion is the only true opinion. It is like a religion. Believe one way and you will go to the upper stratosphere of musical coolness, but differentiate, and be banished into the lower depths of the hell of bad taste.
As a practice lately, I’ve tried to release my stranglehold on what “good” music is, most likely because I enjoy several bands that I get crucified for liking. Maybe, though, I finally realized that “scene points” really don’t amount to anything. At least with Camel points or Pepsi points you can get a rad tote bag or something. Scene points just gets you temporary respect from a lot of brats. Again, this may be a defense mechanism since I am one of the unfortunate fans of Fall Out Boy. Admitting that I not only enjoy Fall Out Boy, but listen to them on a regular basis and can sing most of the words (the ones that are comprehensible anyway), is much harder for me than coming out of the bisexual closet. I’m much more comfortable admitting I’m half-homo than that I like that damn band. Telling people that I am technically a “fan” of FOB is probably comparable to being caught by your mother while you are masturbating.
For all my shortcomings in musical coolness, I am obliged to be gracious to others’ “guilty pleasures.” It’s only fair. Still, though, if someone tells me in all seriousness that they love Linkin Park or Nickelback, I can’t hide my look of disgust. What makes these bands so deplorable to most music fans? Is it their commercial success? Is it the generic radio rock sound with the gravelly voice that screams douchebaggery? I don’t know, but I know that I could probably never marry an honest fan of Nickelback, and I’m not sure whether to be ashamed of that fact or not. My attraction to one suitor all but evaporated when he played Stain’d for me and had almost a pious reverence toward them.
Still, I don’t want to focus only on the negative social aspects of music. When I attended the Silverchair concert at the Diamond Ballroom in November, I stood in a group of people I would probably never hang out with otherwise and we all sang along to songs we loved. They have one of the most diverse fanbases around, from the fans of their old grunge albums to the new pop sound they have, but we all seemed to get along quite well.
The fact that most of us depend on music as if it were oxygen also helps unify us, too. We need it in our cars, in our homes; we need to talk about it, see it, play it. We NEED it. Maybe that can help us be more tolerant of others musical tastes. After all, nobody likes a music bigot.