With Friends like These…
Jerry Lucky Commentary July 2012
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2012 All Rights Reserved
I never cease to be amazed at how progressive rock “fans” love to pick-apart their favorite genre of
music. I’m reminded of the phrase: “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” Every-so-often I
will visit one of the many forums to see what’s being discussed and I never fail to find a fair bit of
what I would describe as “superiority talk.” By that I mean people who think they know more than
someone else and are more than happy to share their superior knowledge with the rest of us.
These sites are loaded with passive-aggressive individuals chomping at the bit to stand on a soap-box and shout to others their superior knowledge. Many times the discussion threads will start out innocently enough, but in short order there will inevitably be the jibes; sometimes in jest many times not.
Now I don’t know who these people are because they typically hide behind their internet user names. It’s amazing how emboldened some people become when they present themselves anonymously. I like a good debate as much as the next guy, but for the most part I find forums are too easy to take off-topic and in the process lose the threads original intent.
I’ve been to a number of marketing seminars that have attempted to explain our fascination with social media and the best overall explanation for its popularity is summed up in a word – conversation. We all have the ability to join in a conversation much as we would around the dinner table, and just like at any dinner party there will always be the know-it-all-uncle or the condescending-aunt and sometimes the mean-mouthed-brother-in-law. Well these same people never fail to show up on the forum sites.
For some people they like to tackle lyrics versus no lyrics…which typically devolves into a shot or two at bad lyrics. These would-be “poet laureates” know everything that was going on in the mind of the song writer and certainly feel justified in criticizing their efforts. You know what they say, don’t you? Them that do, do, them that can’t criticize.
For others it’s about trying to classify certain bands or music into an infinite number of sub-genres, within sub genres. This is just mind-boggling to me how we continue to create new and inventive ways of slotting bands into a new descriptive box.
For another group it’s about comparing lyricists…good ones and bad ones…although as I said earlier it’s hard to get into someone’s head if they’re not actually part of the discussion. It would make for a more meaningful debate if these kinds of discussions were to take place with the artists themselves rather than “behind their backs” so to speak.
For a select few the production or the use of drum machines is always a problem…these of course are the people who are competent studio technicians who know that the disc or the music was never meant to sound that way so clearly there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
I suppose these kinds of debates have been going on since time immemorial, but I do feel that the internet has certainly supercharged the process by giving everyone a voice and more than that, the feeling they should use it. Sometimes the discussion just gets mean-spirited as some of the participants seem to have more than one axe to grind.
But here’s the thing; it doesn’t have to be this way. There are some car modeling forums that I go to that are not a bit like the music forums. Instead the discussion at those forums is civil, polite and perhaps more than anything encouraging.
A therapist might suggest the some progressive rock fans seem to be insecure about their passion. That was hinted at about me after one reviewer read my progressive rock apologetic commentary. I think they used the phrase – “thou dost protest too much.” And maybe they were right? Perhaps I slipped into the dark-side by taking that route.
My own personal experience is that discussion forums work best when they are monitored. The discussion is always best served when there is someone there to make sure everyone is civil and stays on topic. Of course the monitor needs to take their role seriously and be prepared to kick an individual away from the discussion when they a) go off topic or b) lower the tone of the discussion. I say this because I think for the most part people start discussion threads with a sincere desire to hear what others have to say on it. What they don’t want are the condescending, know-it-alls coming in and spoiling for a fight.
Which leads me back to my original point. Why do we feel the need to pick-apart the music we all enjoy? Just because you don’t like one sub-genre as much as the next, or because you don’t like some aspect of a person’s work is no reason to start bad-mouthing it as if you were the final arbiter in the discussion. If you want to bring people into a discussion remember that the old axiom – “You get more flies with honey than vinegar” holds true in this case as well.
At least that’s what I think.