Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Column: Art / Music / Theatre

Everything you ever loved is hated by someone else

by Dan Golding , February 5, 20131 Comment

Photo credit: Bosc d’Anjou

It was time for a letter to the editor, wrote Lisa Hirsch. The New York Times Magazine had neglected to include any classical musicians in its audio collage of musicians who had died in 2012 (save for Ravi Shankar, and ‘you know he’s there for his pop-music connections,’ wrote Hirsch). Action was required.

The snub was particularly insulting, wrote New Yorker critic Alex Ross, as two giants of the classical world had died that year: Elliot Carter (a composer) and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (a baritone). ‘This annual insult to people who love classical music deserves a protest,’ wrote Ross.

It was almost as bad as when the Grammys gave out their final award for Best Classical Album in 2011. Despite similar protests, the classical music world was told that classical albums would just have to fight it out to be nominated under the broader Album of the Year category in the future – an event that even the most ardent of classical music enthusiasts admitted was never going to happen.

The fervour with which these (and other) events are seized on is revealing. The problem here is not just the New York Times Magazine’s unreasonable exclusion, or the Grammys’ lack of depth. The problem is that the world no longer cares about classical music.

Purportedly dwindling attendance, shrinking press coverage, and unenthusiastic government funding leaves classical music in the unenviable position of – along with its relatives, opera and ballet – being the art form that had it all and lost it. Once the very image of enduring artistic achievement, classical music is now often only invoked as a salve for modern maladies: for stress (Classical Lullabies for Babies) or for stupidity (Beethoven for Babies: Brain Training for Little Ones ).

Yet the defensiveness with which classical music is often engaged with in public is deeply surprising to me. The profoundness of my surprise needs a little context. I am an ardent lover of classical music both old and new – from Thomas Tallis to John Luther Adams – but most of my work is related to videogames.

At first glance, you surely could not pick two forms further apart in terms of perceived legitimacy than classical music and the videogame. One is an institutionalised form, handed down by bewigged white men over centuries. The other is a gauche and unripe medium that still struggles for cultural legitimacy despite being wildly popular.

Yet both are seemingly obsessed with policing their public image. For both the classical world and for videogames, you can find a shared insecurity, a deep-set fear that they are not valued by the wider world. The pattern is shockingly familiar: insular communities that watch for and seize on external criticisms with comment-thread nightmares, sarcastic tweets, and protective essays (I should know: I wrote one such piece on videogames for this very publication).

In both cases, such defensiveness seems to stem from a very personal place, as though individuals feel judged along with their chosen media form. This is the crux of the issue. It is played out every day, and with media forms above and beyond classical music and the videogame. You don’t like the thing that I like, and that makes me mad.

It is a wonder why this idea is so very disturbing. Do we really want everyone to appreciate the same things as us? Of course not: then it would be difficult to convince ourselves that our taste makes us unique. But we seek validation that we are not lesser beings for placing so much on something others might deride or overlook.

The tragic thing about such blind defensiveness is that such opposition is the very stuff of taste. Being forced to justify love for classical music or videogames doesn’t invalidate our choices; it gives us the power of articulation and expression. Hopefully, it also gives us the means of understanding that our identities are not defined by a handful of things that other people have made. Understanding why someone doesn’t like the thing that you like is often the pathway to a far richer understanding of your own appreciation and taste.

It comes down to this: every piece of art you ever loved is hated by someone else. And that’s just terrific.

 

Dan Golding is a Killings columnist, freelance writer and academic interested in videogames, film, music, and most other cultural forms. Find him on Twitter.




  • http://discombobula.blogspot.com Sue

    I am going to tattoo that last paragraph on my forehead.

9864007066_4a196b364d_z

Tim Robertson

Fear, loathing, and the erosion of civil liberties

The hysteria currently being concocted by Australia’s political leaders is a smokescreen for the more serious threat facing everyone – an attack of the very freedoms and values our nation has been built on. Read more »

308982705_be9f94455b_b

Marika Sosnowski

Back inside: Life on the Syrian-Turkish border

In Turkey, less than 50 kilometres from the border, Syrians have chosen their favourite cafes, have opened Aleppine sweet shops and set up stores in the old city. Read more »

Frances Abbott

David Donaldson

Why #whitehousegate matters

A few days after the release of the budget, in which the Coalition government announced it was spreading the burden by increasing university fees, cutting school funding, and cutting welfare for young people comes a story that confirms what many already suspect to be the nature of opportunity: it’s much easier to come by if you’re born into privilege. Read more »

cover_bad_feminist

Nathan Smith

These kinds of girls: The feminist essays of Roxane Gay and Lena Dunham

A galvanising moment is occurring now in popular gender politics and contemporary cultural texts. But unlike the 1990s wave of feminism, which heavily criticised mainstream representations of women in film and television, these new literary works not only accept these representations, but actively generate them. Read more »

9781863956932

Carody Culver

Charmless lives: Helen Garner’s This House of Grief and Erik Jensen’s Acute Misfortune

How do narrative non-fiction writers who dare to dissect the darker aspects of humanity keep their readers engaged, rather than simply horrified? Read more »

KrissyKneen_credit_DarrenJames

Carody Culver

‘As if the top of my head were taken off’: The digital possibilities of poetry

‘When Emily Dickinson says, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,” I can’t help but think she would be stupefied by the possibilities of digital literature.’ Read more »

15115828030_526f79c515_z

Julia Tulloh

The celebrity spokesperson phenomenon

What should we expect celebrity advocates to deliver? Emma Watson is not a full-time activist, but if she inspires young people to take an interest in gender equality, is that not a good thing? Read more »

Clara and Doctor

Julia Tulloh

Doctor Who’s gender dynamics: a mid-season evaluation

In some ways, Peter Capaldi was a problematic choice for the newest regeneration of Doctor Who. How on earth were the producers going to pull off a successful friendship between a middle-aged man and a twenty-something woman, without it seeming at best patriarchal and at worst creepy? Read more »

blue-ombr-speckle-liner

Julia Tulloh

From the outside in: the beauty vlogger phenomenon

A current cohort of beauty bloggers are helping to break down distinctions between internal and external expressions of self in ways that allow them to generate new ideas of beauty on their own terms, rather than according to society’s expectations of what women (or men) should look like. Read more »

Whiplash-Damien-Chazelle

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Whiplash: bloody fingers and broken drumsticks

Whiplash is one of the year’s most exciting and electrically charged films. Admittedly, that’s a large claim to make for a little movie about a New York music student, his abrasive teacher, and a whole lot of banging and yelling in band practice. Read more »

Gone-Girl-Ben-Affleck-Rosamund-Pike-Entertainment-Weekly-cover

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Marital Crises: Gone Girl and Force Majeure

You can share your body, your bed, your bank account, and even your toothbrush, with another human being. But each mind contains a private world that can never be fully understood or examined, let alone shared with another. Read more »

theskeletontwins1

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Suicide, Laughter and The Skeleton Twins

Even the best parents can inflict some form of lifelong damage upon their children. But when parents are outright mad, bad or dangerous – or in the case of the funny, bittersweet comic drama The Skeleton Twins, so depressed they commit suicide – the damage can feel impossible to bear, even decades down the track. Read more »

IMG_4309

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Patrons and gamemakers in the shadow of Gamergate

There is a lot to unpack about Gamergate, and a great deal more that isn’t at all worth taking seriously, but what the patronage pseudo-controversy has drawn attention to is the fact that there are potentially huge issues with moving to a model of monetary transactions in which our payments are increasingly networked and ‘social’. Read more »

ST_Ello_600

Connor Tomas O'Brien

The Rise of the High-Minded Startup

Ello’s manifesto is the key to understanding its relative success, and how it has managed to sign up hundreds of thousands of users despite offering a wafer-thin feature set. Read more »

6289302147_38e8035680_z

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Jacqui Lambie and the limits of Remix Culture

The combination of Google Image Search, Photoshop, and Facebook is a powerful one, providing web users with the ability to seek out swaths of copyrighted visual material, rip and manipulate these pictures so the original source is obscured, then share the freshly “remixed” images to a broad audience with no real fear of legal action. Read more »

9780062211194

Danielle Binks

Nepotism, bullying and stalking: When online reviews go bad

The tangible power author Kathleen Hale wields, evinced by her numerous connections and Guardian platform, enabled her continued harassment of her book’s 1-star reviewer. The vocal support and defence put forward by Hale’s influential friends and family appears to be a case of privilege feeding narcissism. Read more »

nonaandme

Danielle Binks

Race, growing up and Nona and Me

Nona & Me beautifully explores female friendship amid cultural and political upheaval. It’s a tender portrayal of two girls who have so much in common, but are worlds apart. Read more »

7183815590_de3f64bca6_z

Danielle Binks

‘YA-bashing’: sexism meets elitism

Another month, another critic who doesn’t read YA literature but still feels superior enough to dictate to those who do. And with this latest instalment of ‘YA bashing’ comes critique of the critics – as many start pointing to a patriarchal undercurrent that runs beneath such articles that claim young adult and children’s fiction is unworthy. Read more »

augie-march-havens-dumb-300x194

Sean Watson

Literal metaphors: Augie March’s Havens Dumb

Havens Dumb, Augie March’s first studio album in six years, opens with an uncharacteristically forthright song about the anxieties of fatherhood. Over a fifteen-year career, lead singer-songwriter Glenn Richards has developed a distinctive lyrical style grounded in visual evocation. Biography rarely seeps through, and when it does, … Read more »

PEREZ_3©yann_morrison-546x364

Chad Parkhill

The not-so-universal language of mankind

Music is, demonstrably, not the universal language of mankind: if that were the case I could make myself understood in Paris’s cafés and boulangeries by carrying around an iPod full of songs titled ‘A Coffee, Please’ or ‘A Baguette With Duck Rillettes To Go, Thanks’. Read more »

homepage_large.9419e472

Chad Parkhill

The music of exhaustion

The War on Drugs new album Lost in the Dream is the startling sound of exhaustion – both a personal exhaustion and a broader cultural exhaustion – transformed into art that is thrillingly and paradoxically vital. Read more »

thecode_main-620x349

Stephanie Van Schilt

An obligation to be kind? Australian TV critics and The Code

When Margaret Pomeranz recently spoke out about the obligation of local film critics to support the Australian film industry, she generated an interesting conversation in the critical community. Are critics who discuss the small screen in the public sphere obligated to be critically kind in their local coverage? Read more »

bojack-horseman-exclusive-trailer-debut_bghe

Stephanie Van Schilt

Jerks, antiheroes and failed adulthood in You’re The Worst and BoJack Horseman

In addition to both being really funny, two new US comedies – You’re The Worst and BoJack Horseman – speak to a widely-held fear about what, exactly, constitutes ‘adulthood’. Read more »

images

Stephanie Van Schilt

How To Talk Australians and the rise of web series

How To Talk Australians has deservedly garnered widespread praise both locally and internationally. With close to two million views worldwide, it could be deemed our first truly successful locally-produced web series. Read more »