So many articles about Pitchfork these days. There’s so much hype about how everyone loves to hate the website that I feel like it’s already become passe to love to hate the site. Everyone loves a success story, especially one that people constantly argue about. I guess in the world of music writing it’s a goldmine, then.
And when will we get articles about online influence without Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, MySpace, and Pitchfork like a holy trinity? If a moevement has poster children, does that mean that it hasn’t become mainstream yet, or does it mean that it’s already assimilated? I am not sure.
What I do know is that Ryan Schreiber, Pitchfork founder and indie glam superstar slacker, has a tricky relationship with editorial. On the one hand, he makes an absolutely excellent point in this City Pages article: “The last thing that I would want to do is dumb it down. It’s not dumb enough is not a valid argument. More and more, criticism is not about criticism; it’s about making comparisons. If you like this band, you might like this. To me, that’s not what criticism ever was.” Rock on Ryan, I’ve been preaching the very same doctrine. But on the other hand, he shirks editorial responsibility over his freelancers, and as the head of a publication, that’s just plain irresponsible. “I trust the writers to their opinions and to their own style and presentation,” he states. What the article calls “chronically unedited [and] overly florid” writing comes off to the reader as laziness, or at least it does to me.
Clearly Pitchfork has a reputation and a perspective. And perhaps part of their schtick is to prioritize creative freedom. Having not written for Pitchfork, I wouldn’t know how they stand up to other publications and other editor’s pens. But here’s the thing. Lester Bangs is a blessing and a curse, because everyone wants to write like him and virtually no one can pull it off. It seems like Pitchfork is trying to cultivate that I’ll-write-whatever-I-feel-like-writing aesthetic that Bangs is famous for. I lost my patience for them months ago though, so I couldn’t even tell you if they are hitting the mark at all. Does that make me unqualified to even critique? Maybe. Also, maybe I would like the site better if they reviewed more music that I actually think is good!