Jason Gross runs through the rockist/poptimist debate on his PopMatters blog. While I am trying very hard to stay out of this debate, he brings up some peripheral points about music writers that I think need some picking apart.
We scribes are the ones who sweat over this and debate it endlessly but many of our readers and the many more people who never read us could care less. It’s not just that they don’t know the terminology, it’s also that, frankly, this just doesn’t matter to them…But again, in the end, we writers live under the semi-delusion that our words will convert the masses or least help the converted entrench what they already believe.
Pretty depressing thoughts. It's just a "semi-delusion," so the glass is half-full, right? The downside to a little us-and-them argument is the revelation of a kind of unbridgable isolation, but the upside is the privilege of disseminating value, the concept of being a teacher and a catalyst. The "them" that refers to those-who-dont-read-music-criticism are still absorbing pop culture, they are still watching TV, they are most certainly on the internet, and probably rifling through Rolling Stone every now and then. Blogs, even these kinds of "flame war" arguments, generate hype, and guess what? People always respond to hype. Always. Information circulates so freely now that yes, it definitely takes a kind of talent to filter out the stuff that matters – but who would I be to criticize discussion? Is there anything worse than ignorance? Items become newsworthy (in print) when enough people fuss about them to warrant reporting. Blogs are just another way of fussing.
We should realize where these discussions really circulate and ultimately then, what they’ll mean for those involved. We’d like to think that we write for people who “get it” and it’s too bad if they can’t dig our debates. Then again, it’s too bad that we don’t think about how we do or don’t connect with a larger readership because of that.
Gross discredits the format of blogs as too informal to be justifiably credible. He is right that writers have to think more proactively about the things that are usually editor's jobs: readership, motivations, messages, etc. Or, maybe Web 2.0 will turn out to be an infant state for whatever comes next, something Pitchfork-esque that is structured similarly to print sources.
This is my favorite line, because I am frequently stating that most music is bad: "As with any genre, some of it will be great…and some of it will suck. "