Is It Wrong to Be a Snob? Yes. Yes It Is.

2124
325
Share:

Want to wow friends and acquaintances with your encyclopedic knowledge and artfully formed opinions? Read this instead.

Yesterday afternoon, my esteemed co-editor Dubya sent me an article and suggested, without any other commentary, that I was the perfect person to write about it. If you’ve read his work or had a personal relationship with the man, you may think that Dubya is the nicest man in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you, this image is a facade. Dubya conspired to to completely ruin my day, first by forcing me to read this self-aggrandizing bloat, then by suggesting that I write a reaction.

The piece in question is by a man named A. O. Scott. Scott is a film critic. He has carved out a very comfortable niche as an authority on movies. He knows his shit, and people enjoy reading his opinions. Good on him. Seriously, that’s a pretty sweet gig, and I’m sure he worked very hard to achieve it. I don’t begrudge the man his success, but I do take great umbrage with his piece in last week’s The New York Times, “Film Snob? Is That So Wrong?“.

Though he makes his case for the nobility of snobbery in the world of film criticism, much of Scott’s piece could easily be applied to the realm of music. Film and music, particularly metal, seem analogous. We both have our celebrated trash (Pink Flamingos and Cannibal Corpse), equally loved and loathed indie darlings (the collected works of Wes Anderson and Deafheaven), universally-respected classics (Citizen Kane and Black Sabbath), and weirdo arthouse jumble (The Cremaster Cycle and Todesstoß). Reading Scott’s commentary, you read the words of a man who wants to reclaim the title of “Snob” and argues that there’s nothing wrong with identifying as such.

Scott begins his defense of snobbery with roughly the introduction with which thousands of struggling college students are currently opening their English mid-term papers, “Webster’s Dictionary defines [SUBJECT] as…”. It doesn’t get much better from there. I applaud the playful sensibility with which A.O. Scott, an affluent middle aged man, applies his defense of his own personal taste in the highbrow and lowbrow. Additionally, I find it shocking that the critics of the New York Times, full-time champions of grotesque luxury, don’t advocate for sympathy more often. And while I can empathize with A.O. Scott’s situation as a critic myself, it is my sincerest recommendation that he go get fucked.

“…I find myself lately feeling less like a caricature — a prig in an ascot, a fuddy-duddy with a pipe or any of the other amusing types a Google image search will yield — than like a fossil, the last devotee of an obscure and obsolescent creed, or the only participant in an argument that has long since been settled. It seems to be an article of modern democratic faith that disputing taste is taboo: at best a lapse in manners, at worst an offense against feelings or social order (which sometimes seem to amount to the same thing). Our nation is at present riven by social inequality and polarized by ideology, but the last thing anyone wants to be called is an elitist.”

First, let’s completely abandon the notion that there is any inherent nobility in holding tastes in art that are not consistent with the unwashed masses. Watching an obscure film will not make you a better person. Listening to a critically beloved record will not make you a better friend. Reading an esoteric book will not make you more interesting. All forms of art have a use, whether they be engaging curiosity, diversion, or personal challenge. And if we meet like-minded people, all the better, for we have so many wonderful subjects to discuss. But these movies, these records, these books, they are all things we simply consume. What worth do you derive by proclaiming that your consumption habits are somehow more vociferous and complex than the rest of the world?

Additionally, let’s take a brief moment to address the societal divide that Scott gives all of one sentence of lip service before moving on with his entirely unnecessary attempts to “take back” the word “snob”. As a high-society New Yorker, A. O. Scott may not be cognizant of the fact that Jean-Luc Godard isn’t exactly an option at the multiplexes across this vast country. Similarly, for legions of young metalheads in the Midwest, Kayo Dot will not blare from truck radios. That’s OK. Thanks to the democratization of the Internet, those who have the desire to go deeper, can. Personal taste is not an Us vs. Them existence.

Furthermore, why on Earth would we want to redefine and reclaim the title of “Snob”? Why is it important that we have another acceptable word to use to lord our tastes over another? Why not Enthusiast? Connoisseur? Opinionated Butthole?

“What I’m trying to say is: Yes, fine, I am a snob. I revere the formal achievement of the first and most recent “Mad Max” movies. I sneer at most biopics and costume dramas. I like my pleasures slow and difficult. I would rather watch a mediocre film from South America or Eastern Europe about the sufferings of poor people than a mediocre Hollywood comedy about the inconveniences of the affluent.”

A. O. Scott is an ILE Snob.

I understand that people have regular deadlines to meet, but did any of this need to be said? Why is it so important for A. O. Scott to use an additional word to elevate his own tastes above those of his peers? He’s already well-known and handsomely rewarded by the newspaper of record. Why is he asking for more recognition for his rarefied skills of perception, not just as a Critic, but a respected Snob? Insecurity? If Scott is feeling perhaps a bit insecure about his tastes and his vocation, he has good reason.

A critic is a mostly useless thing. The critic may, in a roundabout way, contribute to the development of art, but his voice should be taken as a helpful waypoint at best, a detrimental nuisance at most common. Statistically speaking, roughly 99.99999985714286% of people are NOT paid to write their criticisms of art for large newspapers. If that .00000014286% of paid critic population were to suddenly vanish from the face of the Earth, the world of art and creativity would be just fine. Musicians would continue to create music. Painters would continue to paint. Performance artists would continue to make their friends and family uncomfortable. And like the turning of the tide, the critic will continue to prattle on and on with the fanatical belief that his or her opinion is somehow better than the rest of us uncultured swine.

If anyone feels insecure in their own Big Important Artistic Tastes, maybe it’s time to practice some self-reflection rather than pointing the finger at the world. Does no one care about the amazing but obscure Danish film you love? Too fucking bad. Does no one want to listen to the demo of your favorite Finnish black metal band? Tough fuckin’ titties. The world don’t care. The world is trying to get through an agonizing work week, and get the kids into a decent school, and maybe try to catch a half hour of television in between remembering to go to the grocery store so it can cook something half-way healthy. World don’t give a shit. At some point, you have to ask yourself why you care so much about forcing your opinions on it. The things you like are not your identity.

“There is a rich tradition, for instance, of film snobbery, or rather of passionate cinephiles being derided as snobs because of their willingness to read subtitles. The film industry does what it can in the autumn months to beckon them back into theaters with promises of “seriousness,” but a true snob will disdain obvious Oscar bait. If, that is, there are any true film snobs left. As subtitled movies grow scarcer on American screens, the traditional signifiers of snobbery grow scarce. Is a film snob someone who name-checks Pedro Costa, Michael Haneke or other international auteurs? Someone who drops the word “auteur” into a discussion of “Mad Max: Fury Road”? A person who admires Kristen Wiig, but only in her serious roles?”

You are not somehow special for holding onto standards of personal preference. You are, however, a tremendous asshole for believing that you alone possess these magical skills of discernment over the rest of the world.

Does this screed sound familiar to you? I read Scott’s words and I hear the voice of the metal elitist. We’ve all heard that voice offhandedly denigrating the pleasures we most enjoy, dismissing “lower” forms of art as course and childish, loudly proclaiming that the rest don’t know where it’s REALLY at. How many times have you been browbeaten by some Internet Metal Nerd for ignoring some “underground” scene? It is pure self-aggrandizement. These people are Snobs, and they deserve every bit of condescension that the word entails.

I’m not familiar with much of A. O. Scott’s body of work prior to this piece (truth be told, I’m more of a fan of Armond White‘s signature arch, contrarian views of film). When I want to enjoy the criticism of much more thoughtful writers than myself, I love looking through Roger Ebert’s excellent posthumous collection of film criticism and Mark Prindle’s hilarious and thoughtful musings on music. The latter two writers saw no virtue in being a “snob”. Instead, they wrote with a populist bent that was intended for an audience that valued their lack of pretension.

Though I hardly consider myself a critic, much less a writer, I say this to you from the perspective of a music critic: Let it go. Derision at music preference? Let it go. Sense of worth from the art you consume? Let it go. For most of the world, art is a diversion from the grind of life, jobs, and responsibilities. As music enthusiasts, we should do our best to have clearheaded discussions about the genre. As friends, we should feel comfortable playfully dumping on the tastes of our pals. As people, we should never strive to be a Snob.

Also, video games are not art and should never be afforded consideration as such. Fuck you, Seacrest out.

Agree? Disagree? Am I a pompous asshole? Let’s discuss it in the comments below. Unlike the Times, we’re not too highfalutin to have a democratic chat about it.

(Images VIA, VIA, VIA)

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I have an encyclopedic knowledge and artfully formed opinions but I don’t use them in public. If I did I’d be considered the biggest snob. I try to act like the masses when it comes to my taste in public. Also, my dad is a giant film snob who went to film school before becoming a lawyer. He sounds just like most of those quotes.

  • Vote for Jeb

    The reason I sent that article to Joe is because he and I like to discuss art and art criticism quite a bit. I actually used to be the kind of person who would look down on others for liking pop music. How dare you like something that doesn’t challenge you? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to move away from that and recognize that certain things just won’t appeal to people in the same way.

    I still think there is validity in distinguishing between praiseworthy art and banal art, but I think the way we discuss and criticize it should be in way that discusses the merit of the art itself without disparaging those who enjoy it. I still think pursuing art that challenges you is a worthwhile endeavor, but only if you can learn something or gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty around you. Pursuing artful art purely for elevating your identity is childish.

    Interestingly, I definitely resonate with Joe’s argument when it comes to literature. Do I think Twilight is great fiction that should be held on a pedestal? Absolutely not, but I’m stoked that kids read it and hope that as they mature, they’ll challenge themselves with more difficult and enlightening texts. Just maybe not Joyce. No one needs to read Joyce.

    Also, sorry for the Pallbearer digs 😉

    • Vote for Jeb

      To clarify two things:

      1. When I say “banal art”, I’m directly thinking of art crafted more for consumption and entertainment than thoughtful contemplation. Both have their place!

      2. When I say “elevating your identity”, I mean above those who enjoy different kinds of art. Liking metal doesn’t make me a better person than those who like pop.

    • Max

      “I’m stoked that kids read [Twilight] and hope that as they mature, they’ll challenge themselves with more difficult and enlightening texts. Just maybe not Joyce.”

      I’m stoked that kids listen to Korn and hope that as they mature, they’ll challenge themselves with more difficult and enlightening music. Just maybe not Devin Townsend.

      Since this statistically doesn’t happen all that often (although it DOES, I concur, actually happen), we have to throw that argument out and instead pursue the concession that Twilight/Korn/Big Bang Theory/whatever have some sort of inherent artistic merit that justifies sticking with them – if we don’t want to be seen as snobs.

      On the other hand, since heavy metal has traditionally had such a bad and low-brow reputation among music critics (don’t forget – there was a time when even Led Zeppelin was considered pretty much the same way Limp Bizkit is considered today by critics), I’ve always made the assumption that we metalheads are exempt from any charges of cultural snobbery no matter how arch and judgmental our opinions are within the scene. But that’s just me.

      • Vote for Jeb

        Good point. I tried to flesh that out a bit with my addendum but probably did an insufficient job. Even Low art has some value. Christian touched on this in his review of 1984. I think sometimes I’m quick to be judgmental of things for being purely entertainment, but from an ethical standpoint, people deriving pleasure from harmless entertainment isn’t necessarily wrong, and in fact it could be seen as a good thing of itself, especially if it positively impacts markets and allows jobs and other benefits to flourish. Tentpole action movies may be intellectually barren, but they sure cut a whole lot of paychecks that keeps the industry running and give people something to enjoy.

        • Max

          It’s cool, W – I knew quite well what you were driving at; I was just being a bit mischievous 🙂

          I guess my point is that we need to be careful to avoid the idea that any form of art can be “justified” or legitimized by some sort of association with another, already-legitimized art form. This happens a lot in our culture, and if you think about it, the “gateway drug” argument in music is a very good example of it; but far from the only one.

          For example, when I first got into “non-mainstream” music as a teenager, I developed the peculiar idea that liking a band meant buying all of their back-catalog. So having gotten into Sonic Youth via their great, then-current Goo album, I proceeded to buy things like the years-older Starpower EP.

          It didn’t take long before I learnt how effective a way that was to waste a lot of money. (To put it politely, the Sonic Youth of Starpower is not the Sonic Youth of Goo.)

          I’ve known (and have been one of the) people who buy records because certain bands shared members with other bands they already liked, because earlier bands influenced later bands they already liked, were on the same reputable indie label, had admired friends who liked the band, liked the cover art, and so on.

          NONE of these types of recommendation, I can assure you from experience, are a guarantor that you’ll like a given record; and it’s a really good test of whether your record collection is a compendium of art that moves you or simply – to an extent – as much a vanity project as your partner’s taste in home furnishings.

          Good art needs no excuse. Bad art has no excuse. And “good” vs “bad”, naturally, are defined by nothing more than the consumer’s feelings at the point of exposure. Personally, it seems odd to me that I would be concluding that Limp Bizkit can equal “good” and Sonic Youth can equal “bad”; but if Starpower is going up against Three Dollar Bill Y’all, that’s how it plays out for me – even with all of Sonic Youth’s history and unassailable cred versus Limp Bizkit’s…..well, Limp Bizkit. I certainly don’t think that Three Dollar Bill Y’all is a brilliant record; but it kicks the shit out of Starpower.

          • TL;DR: Max likes Limp Binbiskuit.

          • Max

            Arrrgh! I’m exposed! 🙂

            In my defence, Starpower is a three-song EP with no good songs. Three Dollar Bill Y’all is a full-length album that only requires three good songs to be better than Starpower.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Ha, I think this is a great argument and something I need to consider more. if I’m being honest, i think i projected a bit of myself there because the Avenged Sevenfolds and Mudvaynes are what inevitably led me to the Neuroses and Cult of Lunas.

        • Óðinn

          It’s all relative. Full disclosure, I’m a part of the problem. Like many people who work in the film industry, I got into the industry because I love the art of it. I love a good script, proper character, development, great acting, and beautiful cinematography. But to pay the bills, I’ve worked on, and professionally promoted, many films that I personally find to be mindless commercialized entertainment. We can’t always chose the projects we get to do. They are not all passion projects.

          But mindless “shoot ’em up” films aren’t in any danger of losing an audience. More thoughtful films often go unnoticed. I just wish people would, in general, look for more thoughtful entertainment. Our profit-driven system almost ensures the perpetuation of one kind of entertainment only, while pushing out alternative narratives. Further to that, the general public tends to deride anyone who dares to like anything that appears to be too intellectual.

      • Max, do you think metal is still a very limited genre (based on traits, characteristics and structures)?

        You final paragraph made me think about how in more academic or even opinion ‘snob’ spaces of music in general, metal is always refered briefly and only certain bands (mostly the traditional ones). What I feel is that metal isn’t yet a ‘certified’ genre by most of academia and general opinion.

        • Vote for Jeb

          i think certain band’s have transcended into academic esteem (Meshuggah, for example, was featured in a highbrow music criticism magazine that usually discussed classical and art music), but I think most of the world still views it as dumb screamo music for neanderthals.

          • I think that current state of metal “journalism” isn’t helping to turn off those barriers.

            Complimenting Max final paragraph, to me, opinions on the inner circle of metal have passed from the phase of “brainless drunks” into “annoying kids pretending being intelligents”. I’m not taking merits of the bands fighting the good for the recognition of their art and the work of people like us that cover monthly the news and the releases.

            But, really, to me, reading other blogs and e-zines it makes me realize that people in the metal inner circle pretends and implies too much on the quality of the releases, quickly judge and exalts things at the same time.

            I don’t know and I don’t want to being judgemental and say that it’s good or bad, it’s only how I feel it.

        • Max

          Interesting question. Basically yes – I DO think metal is still a very limited genre. All genres have limitations; that’s why they’re genres. More specifically, there are things metal “has” to do to qualify as metal: be riff-based via use of distorted guitars, be loud and dynamically narrow, tend to toward the histrionic, etc, etc. (and before I get cut down by everybody here: yes, I’m sure you can dredge up examples of noteworthy metal bands that somehow do none of those things!).

          That said, I’ve always regarded metal as unmistakably progressive, which it can be by any definition of that term. And I think being progressive is a good thing, but not a vindication for what is otherwise a stylistically quite narrow type of music.

          Because narrow music needs no vindication. I’ve come to believe that “narrowness” in art, or singular purpose, is actually one of the most powerful aesthetics any art can employ. Heavy metal is not good music because it delivers everything that music can deliver. No style of music can. It’s good because what it DOES deliver, it delivers so well that for awhile, you forget that you want or need any other type of music.

          (I could flesh this all out a lot more understandably if I wasn’t eating breakfast. Hope I’m making sense!)

          As to metal not yet being an academically “certified” genre: You’re right, although the situation has improved in the last 15 years or so – assuming metal needs that sort of validation (and we did quite well without it for the decades prior.) At any rate, we’ve got a long way to catch up to the “certification” of the Velvet Underground or Bob fucking Dylan. That guy must have had more PhDs written about his lyrics than the total of his actual lyrics by now. If you want critical snobbery, there it is.

    • Óðinn

      Let me preface this by saying that I’m not defending “snobbery.” And I do respect both Joes’s and W’s opinions. But there is nothing wrong with having a taste for art that is avant-garde or alternative…..

      I don’t want to dig too deep into this topic today. I’ve actually done a fair amount of writing about film this week already, and I’m a bit tired today. I will say that we should be weary about perpetuating anti-intellectualism. There seems to be a trend, at least in America, to dislike those with thoughtful and intelligent points of view, and to prop up those uniformed opinions who just speak from their gut. Ultimately, this impedes our progress as a society, when we always tend to follow the least informed among us. Knowing Hollywood films as I do, I understand that they tend to be very formulaic and tend to reinforce dominant ideologies, like patriarchal capitalism, through entertainment. I’m not saying that “Joe Six Pack” can’t enjoy his favorite Michael Bay film, he can. But there needs to be room for alternative points of view. It’s actually very difficult for alternate voices to be heard in cinema. Media can help enact social change though. In fact, the presence of gay and lesbian voices in avant-garde and underground cinema eventually filtered up through the media, amd brought films and TV shows about gay and lesbian to mainstream audiences. And this led to wider acceptance of gay and lesbian people. From studying communication theory, I can honestly say that we are actually represented by the products we consume, whether we want to admit or not. They are not the entirety of our being, they do tend to speak about us when others see us and judge who we are. The entire luxury car segment of the market is based on our need for a certain image for example. I remember a time when it was considered a positive attribute to be intelligent and educated. Even if we live in Ronald Reagan’s neoliberal world, and that may no longer be the case. While it can be quite cathartic to deride those with tastes we find obscure or too intellectual, would our hatred not be put to better use fighting those who actually actively damage the middle class and hard working families. There are economic elites in our country who don’t want you to vote, don’t want you to get ahead, and don’t want you or your children to go to university. They’d prefer that most of us remain ignorant. I’m far more offended by that kind of elitism than the kind that does me no harm if I don’t allow it.

      • I’m not trying to deride anyone’s taste at all. As much as I like brainless entertainment, I’m a terrible fucking nerd that enjoys avant-garde art. My beef with A. O. Scott (and his ilk), is that there is anything inherently *better* about being the kind of person that engages with obscure art.

        • Óðinn

          Yeah, I don’t think it makes you “better” either. I don’t think he needs to look down on anyone. I am a proponent of bettering yourself through education though. And I encourage people to learn as much as they can about whatever subject or topic interests them personally. There is value to understanding film on deeper level for those who choose to do so.

  • Mvthvr Shvbvbv 8

    …..

    • Oh that’s good shit.

    • RJA

      that pose fits dubya’s face perfectly – well done.

      • Óðinn

        Totally.

    • Óðinn

      Haha, I like this, Mother Shabubu. “Likin’ the wrong band, that’s a lockerin’.”

  • KJM, Doom Hunter General
  • Dagon

    Your words remind me of a recent episode. The same way having unique or rare tastes do not make you a better person, neither does playing in a band, having a certain job or whatever you feel self-important about. You are not automatically right because you have “credentials”.

    I know A LOT of people who feel like they’re the shit because they are doctors or in med school. Way more than I’d like to, and those are the worst types. FOH with that bullshit.

    • Vote for Jeb

      Man, that attitude is so prevalent in medicine. i think it’s worse than academia. I think the money and prestige of being a doctor attracts those types.

      • Dagon

        It does. Also doesn’t help that a lot of people seek medicine because they have doctors in the family, and that perpetuates a culture of assholery among them.

        If I ever act like that please put me in check. Please.

  • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan2

    But is ok. We all cant be sexy like him but, we can be adults who have no lives and are probably sitting in there mom’s basement right now on the internet making stupid remarks a child would make. That is also ok.

    -Aggie Herndon, 2 weeks ago

  • Guacamole Jim

    With music, even if I don’t like it, I try to understand what it is about it that others enjoy. Not liking things doesn’t make you a snob, behaving like the things you like are the only things worth listening to? That makes you a snob. Joe, you’ve nailed this critique. Fuck this dude, listen to what you like, don’t limit yourself because snobs think it’s not good enough.

    • Dagon

      Bottom line is we should just chill and enjoy the music amirite? Why are you guys fighting anyway?

      • Guacamole Jim

        Dammit, I can’t hide from you!

        • Dagon

          I’m right behind you

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Unless it’s Deafheaven. Or power metal.

      • Guacamole Jim

        Real talk: I like Deafheaven. Fuck power metal doe.

        • Óðinn

          I’m not a snob. Buy yeah, fuck power metal. It’s some seriously low-brow shit. Power Metal is the NASCAR of Metal. 😉

  • I feel ashamed to be part of this snobs club. Stop being so pretentious and dissecting and over-analyze everything!

    **FLUSH ALL THE POSEURS DOWN THE FILTHIEST AND GRITTIEST POCETA DEL INFIERNO**

  • Hubert

    Great article Joe, and I agree with almost everything. I do disagree with the notion that film/music/games/whatever critics are not really necessary and that the industry’s would be fine without them. Critics can be and are often annoying, but they are definitely necessary. I can’t really explain why I think that but that’s just what my brain say’s.

    I do think that the important critics of today and the future are not the guys in newspapers but the ones with youtube channels and blogs. Plenty of people make a living talking about entertainment without being connected to anything other then their fans and their platforms and that’s great and I’d like to see more of that especially for music.

    • I do agree with you. Reasonable and insightful critics do exist. The existence of high paid critics for stuffy newspapers (***COUGH AYO STEVE COUGH***) is pretty absurd in this day and age. Fire that chump and spend his salary on hiring someone that can keep your stupid print company in business.

      • Stanley

        Critics are important both as curators and taste makers. If it wasn’t for the Toilet, I’d have to sift through piles upon piles of drivel and who has the time for that. Oh, I guess you guys do!

        • Óðinn

          Sure. Critics that you generally agree with can provide an important service, filtering choices to consumers. I can agree with that.

  • I don’t like a lot of what you guys like musically and you probably don’t like a lot of what I like musically. Whatever, big deal. I’m not much of a philosopher so I’ll just enjoy my records over some beer and you can do the same with your records over whatever refreshments you prefer.

  • KJM, Tremendous Asshole
  • Bert Banana

    TLDR; Go back to your locker, Joe

    • U CAN’T MAKE ME

      • Bert Banana

        My surgically attached banana-hands and monkey wrench will

        • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

          I will not calm down until cocaine enters my system!!!!

          • Bert Banana

            THE CUP! THE CUP HAS THE DRUGS!

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Filled with magic!

          • Bert Banana: Interesting, interesting. Tell me this: have you read King Kong?

            Frylock: Uh, no.

            Bert Banana: You have, okay, and you believe that don’t you? But before you answer me, I just…uh… you know what? Go ahead and pour me a little bit of a full glass of that rum.

          • Bert Banana

            Tammy: Bert! Remember how hard you used to hit me?

            Me: As hard as I could, as long as I could. Frankly, all the hitting drained me. I had to go to the hospital for have my hands replaced. I was too high! To out of my mind to know I ruined my hands hitting her.

          • I will not calm down until cocaine enters my system!

          • Bert Banana

            I will not calm down until cocaine enters your system!

          • Son of a… dammit!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I will not calm down until cocaine leaves my system!

        • How bout you go ahead and pour me a little full glass of that rum.

          • Bert Banana

            I’m not going to drink from the u-trap…only an animal would do something like that.

        • BANANA-BANANA-TERRACOTA!!!

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            TERRACOTA-PIE!!

            Loved that album when it first came out, haven’t listened to it in years.

  • First: Video games ARE art. 100%
    Second: We already know A. O. Scott is a nerd because he’s one of those intials-for-name pinky-out, opera-glasses types.

  • Waynecro

    Outstanding article, Joe. Thanks for the great, funny, and thought-provoking read. I’m an editor, and the only introduction I fucking hate more than “Webster’s Dictionary defines [SUBJECT] as…” is “Wikipedia defines [SUBJECT] as…” I have thrown writers down the stairs for that one.

    • HA! I would bet his editor burst a blood vessel when he/she read it.

      • Waynecro

        He or she should have thrown the motherfucker down some stairs–for multiple reasons. Nothing makes a shitty writer think twice about shitty writing like the looming threat of being cast down a bunch of cold, metal stairs in a dingy stairwell.

        • Vote for Jeb

          Joe and I need to start threatening more stair-throwing.

          • Our stair-throwing is *top-notch*

          • Vote for Jeb

            One stair per extra space. Two stairs per extraneous ellipsis. Three stairs per missing clause between independent colons. One flight per top notch or dat bass.

          • Herr Schmitty
          • Waynecro

            I can confirm that this is a very effective editorial tool. Also effective: Threatening to start fires whenever authors dangle their modifiers.

          • I always wanted to start a fire with the same pages I’m editing.

            Sadly, I only edit in digital 🙁

            Someday, someday…

          • Waynecro

            You could always throw a flaming computer monitor.

          • Waynecro

            Dude, I have to try that at my office. I could wear a different animal costume every Friday. Fuck casual Friday; it would be enraged-editor-in-an-animal-costume-destroys-your-keyboard-for-shitty-writing-and-pees-on-your-desk Friday.

          • What’s a dangling modifier? Sounds sexy. I forget English.

          • Waynecro

            There’s nothing sexy about danglers. The name is highly misleading but still very fun to say.

          • Okay but still, seriously, WHAT ARE DANGLING MODIFIERS? Not that I’m going to stop employing them if in fact I currently do.

          • Waynecro

            The simplest explanation I can provide comes from The Careful Writer by Theodore M. Bernstein: “The fault in all danglers is the failure to put modifiers in close contact with the elements they are supposed to modify.” Here’s an example of a dangler in action: “Stumbling across the pit in a drunken rage, the unsuspecting girl in heels was knocked the fuck over by the aging biker.” The construction of the sentence makes it seem as though the girl in heels was “stumbling across the pit in a drunken rage,” when the old biker was the one doing all the stumbling. Placement, man. It’s everything.

          • Okay yeah that’s a pretty blaring fuck-up on the writer’s part, but I’m sure I’m guilty of it in less blaring instances. I write more or less constantly but know almost nothing about the technicalities and rules.
            <———————-Major Fucking Hack

          • Waynecro

            Yeah, that’s definitely a blatant dangler. Danglers can be pretty subtle sometimes, though. Were it not for editors, people would be dangling all over one another and never even know it. It’d be a fucking jungle gym of danglers, man. Chaos.

          • I suspect I dangle all over myself all day long, oblivious, blissful, free. (An editor would throw me down an elevator shaft.)

          • Waynecro

            Dangle away, my dude. I promise not to gripe about it.

          • (No, seriously, I really do need an editor. Big time. But that would imply that I have the balls to attempt to publish. Which I clearly do not.)

          • Waynecro

            Well, if you do decide to publish and need an editor, let me know. I could at least give you some tips or steer you in the right direction.

          • I will bear this in mind. Thank you, Wayne-crow (which is how I read your alias every time I see it for some reason). In fact, fuck it, let’s just say that I would very much like to publish and have been lying through my teeth for the past eleven minutes, so any advice on “first steps” would be heavenly, just heavenly.

          • Waynecro

            I fucking wish my name were Wayne. That would make my handle so much more clever. I had a necrotic pancreas from pancreatitis, and all I got was this stupid Disqus handle. Anyway, I’m just an editor, so I can’t help much with the business side of publishing (I’ve been trying to pitch a cartoon and have had no success so far). I imagine that having a strong manuscript is pretty important, though, and I’d be happy to read some samples or answer a few editorial questions–that sort of thing.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Why don’t you just dangle people off of balconies?

    • JAJAJAJAJAJA!

      I feel your pain.

    • Óðinn

      “Tell me how Webster’s Dictionary defines a compound fracture when you get to the bottom of the stairs motherfucker!”

      • Waynecro

        So much win there, dude.

  • I always get a bit defensive when opinions and/or articles like this, and I personally am not a huge fan of it. I don’t even have a good reason, but I am going to try to explain my mindset below. I think you did do an excellent job of presenting it though! I don’t think it’s wrong (or right), but I have a few issues.

    1) Video games can be art GO DIE >:(

    2) “The things you like are not your identity.” This statement invalidates millions of people, and I think it’s incorrect and irrelevant in this context.

    3) The concept of a snob: I KIND OF side with the NYT article. Obviously not so pompous, I like your idea of being an “enthusiast” over being a snob. However, the point of both your articles isn’t which noun we use to describe yourself, but more with the attitude of being a person who actively and intently pursues entertainment art.

    If I understood you correctly, most of your argument boils down to “art is subjective, don’t be a dick, everyone is equal.” I agree with that. What concerns me about a statement like this, however, is that as soon as some people hear that, they will no longer challenge themselves musically (or artistically or whatever.)

    I love constructive heavy metal elitism. (Constructive meaning it isn’t used to tear other’s personal tastes down) I love the firmly held conviction that elitism uses to maintain the traditional styles of genres as well as explore potentially missed albums (obvious Timeghoul name drop). I love actively searching for and finding albums by bands that I think sound cool, then discovering what genre it falls under by listening or researching online, then deeply and thoroughly exploring the genre and its history.

    I don’t love putting down new things simply because they are new, even if that does typically line up with my personal taste. I don’t love hating on a person’s taste in music simply because they don’t know bands that I think are better. I do it with friends, sure, because I hope by this point you all realize I don’t think of you all as posers who should only listen to power metal or die by my steel. (EDIT: LIES, I THINK YOU ARE ALL POSERS WHO NEED TO LISTEN TO MORE POWER METAL OR DIE BY MY STEEL.)

    I see it over and over again where someone who is into the more recent or trendy (not derogatory here) bands knows absolutely nothing about the bands that helped forge the genre. It literally happened today in a conversation with a friend who had never heard of Bolt Thrower, but was excited to see Cattle Decapitation/Cannibal Corpse. The elitist part of me wants to tear these bands down for being “generic” or “clones” or “hipster metal” or “trendy” or whatever other elitist diss people like to use, but why? Who cares? What has this person done wrong? Am I mad because he enjoys death metal bands that MY favorite death metal band influenced, but doesn’t know the influence? Am I mad because he hasn’t put years worth of effort into digging up every dumb obscure death metal band ever and listening to all their albums like I have? Even if I was mad about any of these things, what right do I have to be mad? Why do I care?

    I think it comes down to the fact that I care a ton and other people don’t care as much as me, and I care that they don’t care as much as me, and I wish they would even though that’s not logical or fair.

    I have no idea if I made sense at all during this rant, hopefully at least one of you can identify or resonate with something in this.

    • I’m just going to throw this out there as an honest question:
      Does it actually matter who forged the genre? Is it taking anything away from your friend’s enjoyment of Cattle Decap that he’s never heard Bolt Thrower? Common sense in the world of metal is: Of course it matters. Common sense in the rest of the world: Eh, prob not dude.

      • That’s my point. I know it doesn’t really matter who likes what or who did what first. I typically tend to drift to whoever did it first, and feel like other people SHOULD, but i recognize that what I think is not what other people think, nor is it what they should do

        I spent 50 minutes trying to put this thought together into a coherent, readable thing, and still don’t think I did well.

      • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

        It matters for historical accuracy. Otherwise? Meh. Life’s too short. Have fun.

      • tigeraid

        But does it not matter in other hobbies? I feel like if you enjoy current RPGs, you should have a taste of the glorious past of RPGs. If you enjoy Pillars of Eternity, try Planescape: Torment. If you enjoy Metal Gear Solid V, try Metal Gear Solid. If you enjoy [insert generic Call of Duty bullshit shooter], you should try Half-Life. Same goes for enjoying old cars and understanding their history while being enthusiastic about modern performance cars.

        It’s not that the older stuff is better, it’s that you grasp the experience so much more FULLY if you experience it.

        I might just be an old curmudgeon, though (at the age of 35.)

    • Vote for Jeb

      I get where you’re coming from, and I even echoed some of these arguments with my own (that I hope people would challenge themselves to explore new art), but I don’t think the argument that “older=better” holds much water. Just because a band influence others doesn’t necessarily make that band better. There are loads of older bands that are well-respected that I don’t think personally make art of the same caliber, creativity, and construction as newer bands in the same vein.

      • I don’t think I was trying to argue that in this comment

        • Vote for Jeb

          I guess I was addressing this part: ” I typically tend to drift to whoever did it first, and feel like other people SHOULD”

          • I posted that in response to a comment below, not in my original comment 😉

          • Vote for Jeb

            I know, but you said as much in the original too.

          • My point wasn’t that older is better, but more that I love elitism for helping me to have a very concrete understanding of traditional genres and their histories, as well as for constantly challenging me to know more than everybody else

          • Vote for Jeb

            But isn’t that basically saying, “I know old bands and that makes my taste more valid than yours!”?

            I think the axe cuts the other way too and allows you to see how far things have come compared to their progenitors. You could argue either way, and I think you’re missing it if you do.

          • I wrote a big long post but it was getting rambly and nonsensical.

            To sum up what I was trying to say, I think the more bands you know, listen to, the more experience you have with the genre. Obviously on the internet, it is impossible to verify that “oh, Randall Thor has listened to 1,034 death metal albums and W has only listened to 900, therefore his opinion is probably more trustworthy.” Even with Last.FM tracking my listens, I VERY often play music in the background and don’t really have a full idea of what went on in that album. Because we can’t tell, we have to talk and treat each other with respect (HA) until we can all get an idea of who knows the most about what.

            Why do you think I go to Tyree about grindcore? Because that dude talks about grindcore bands all the time and listens to it/knows it well. People know I love power metal and can come to me, Link, MSD, and a few other people because they know we love that genre and know a lot about it. None of us are better than anyone else because we know dumb bands in dumb metal genres, but our opinions are trustworthy because we have demonstrated that we are knowledgeable of those genres.

            THE KEY with elitist opinions is that you share them in a constructive way so that we can create a rising tide of friendly, knowledgeable metal heads

          • Vote for Jeb

            I think I can get behind this.

          • I like this more.

            I like you more.

          • Vote for Jeb

            By the way, I’m about to step out, so if I don’t respond, know that I <3 u.

          • yeah took me forever to come up with a decent comment

      • I respect old and newer shit. But, I think people that are into the newer stuff whether it’s death metal, black metal, thrash and so on, should be encouraged to study the influences of the bands they enjoy. I’ve talked to people that like a current metal bands and they have no idea about the influences of the band they like. Take War Master for example, I’ve talked to someone on here (Won’t say who) that liked that band but had no clue that they were a massive Bolt Thrower worship band. Even the band name is a Bolt Thrower song. Then again that’s just the massive metal nerd in me.

        • Vote for Jeb

          Oh, I totally think people should know the old stuff if they’re inspired by it. I just think new music is just as valid and important as old though.

          • Agreed!!!

          • I agree with that, 30 years from now there are going to be grumpy 30 year olds defending Cattle Decapitation from all these new young posers who only listen to cyberdeath bands

          • Bert Banana

            What’s wrong with cyberdeath, huh? You wanna go?

          • you fucking posers don’t even know who The Faceless are

          • Bert Banana

            The Faceless are trash!

            …although Brandon is cool beans. I remember him when he was touring with Cynic

          • Wait are we still pretending it’s 30 years in the future or not?

          • Bert Banana

            We were pretending?

            Ironically, I’m a 30 year old who defends Cattle Decapitation now

          • Oh. Well in that case, you poser, you don’t even know who Convulse is

          • Bert Banana

            Back in the locker you go.

          • Fine.

            But remember.

            You can’t ban me forever.

            I won’t stay in this locker.

            You will listen to power metal before I die

          • Bert Banana

            I will be nice and give you a CD Player and 4 cds to listen to in your locker

          • 1) Fritz Reinger & Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Scheherazade”
            2) Dragonland – Under the Grey Banner
            3) Riot – Thundersteel
            4) Fleet Foxes – self-titled

          • Bert Banana

            Ummm no…it doesn’t work like that. I chose the cds.

            1) Limp Bizkit – Gold Cobra
            2) Megadeth – Rust in Piece
            3) Metallica – Master of Puppets
            4) a CD-R with no label on it

          • at least you gave two (possibly 3) great albums

          • Bert Banana

            Randell opens Rust in Piece only to find that someone replaced it with Super Collider. Then opens Master of Puppets only to find it’s just missing. The blank CD-R is a Reggaeton mixtape where all the MP3s are at 96 Kbits.

          • tigeraid
          • Óðinn

            But do you know about their side project, Puhelinkoppi?

          • Max

            It is the future. It’s 2015. Most of my favourite sci-fi flicks are set before now. Even Star Wars was “A Long Time Ago…”

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Even Blade Runner is only 4 years away(so to speak).

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Where’s my flying skateboard?

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Where’s my new life on the off-world colonies?

          • Max

            Where’s my HAL-9000 and my obsidian monolith in the backyard, for that matter?

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Why is there still only one Sun?

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            What do you mean ‘atmosphere’?

          • Jajajaja!! I remember those old cartoons from Looney Tunes in which they despicted 2010 with spaceships and shit.

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Stoner Tech.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I would love that so much. A combination of Master of Reality and the technical ease of prog is the nest thing ever.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Which is . . . I guess most good postmetal bands

          • Bert Banana

            Blackened Technical Funeral Doom Grind is the future…in the future

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            《Grumpy 30 year old

          • Grumpy 26 year old as of yesterday. LIFE’S ALL DOWN HILL FROM HERE

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            LIFES ALL DOWNHILL FROM BIRTH

          • Bert Banana

            LIFES ALL UPHILL FROM DEATH

          • happy late birthday!

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Jimmy have I mentioned to you I am rewatching The Wire? I’m almost done with the third season.

          • Third season is so damn good.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            So damn good. Crazy good.

          • i’m on four, i got de-railed. s3 is good, but i’m the oddball who loved s2

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I loved s2 by the end of it the first time and then loved it my second time through. I was scared during the first few episodes the first I watched it.

          • yeah there’s a whole new cast of characters from the first season and it takes a while to see how they integrate with the plot. zeke was so charmingly annoying

          • Bert Banana

            Season 2 is much better the second time around

          • Óðinn

            Season 2 is my favorite season.

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            I’m on the 5th. I keep falling asleep

          • CyberneticOrganism

            STAY CYBERDEATH

          • Ted Nü-Djent ™

            This conversation sounds familiar

        • NAME IT, SO WE CAN LAUGH AT HIS/HER EXPENSE.

        • sweetooth0

          Man County Medical Examiners rule, but fuck those hacks in Carcass!

          • Bert Banana

            Eh…I’m more partial to General Surgery but fuck Carcass…those hacks

          • YEAH!

        • xengineofdeathx

          I don’t think it’s unreasonable to feel like that though, people have to understand their roots so to speak.

      • Óðinn

        Yeah, there was lot of garbage Metal in the 1980s. I wouldn’t tell anyone to respect Winger, Enuff Z’Nuff, or Kix just because they are old. Their music sucks.

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          Reb Beach is an amazing guitarist though! I also like Kix!

    • Randy, games can be art, but sadly, you can count with the fingers of your poser slayer hand which one are.

      Also, I can resonate with your stance, even when I know being elitist=sucks. But, yeah, since I don’t talk too much with metalheads in real life I always felt bad when people around me only care about fucking reggaeton and things I feel as crappy. On the inside of the metal circle, I think elitism is bad too, but that “constructive elitism” in metal probably made the global scene like we had it right now.

      TL;DR: Max likes Limp Bizkit and I will continue thinking that Venezuelans in general have bad tastes.

      • This is a really, really good comment.

        • I don’t remember what I was trying to say, jajajaja.

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            huehuehue

      • Max

        I’m never living this one down, am I?

      • Bert Banana

        Reggaeton is latin american epidemic. My mom pumps that stuff in the car. The music is vile and offensive

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Video game snobs are the absolute lowest form of snob life

        • Bert Banana

          There’s really only one game worth playing and it’s this

          https://youtu.be/Xew7EoiNkWY

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Big fan of futanari

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            (facepalm)

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Lol

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            7.5 mg Vics are on the lunch menu for tomorrow.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Perhaps a burger tomorrow for lunch. Scotch and . . . I donno for dinner. I baked fish and had vodka/columbian gold for dinner tonight

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Nathan’s franks and Purple Diesel is tonight’s Dinner.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            I could go for some brightleaf chili dogs, but damn, i gotta go to a dif store to get em

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Goddamnit.

          • Bert Banana

            Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Snob

          • Bert Banana

            Wait…wouldn’t that make you the snob for being a fan of obscure pornography?

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Only Blazblue is real

        • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

          GET NO-SCOPED!!!!

    • Boss the Ross

      That was an excellent write up.
      Hail, brother of metal!

    • sweetooth0

      I’m not sure I see Bolt Thrower as an influence on Cannibal Corpse who started only a year or so later, and to my ears plays a different style of death metal, but good comment nonetheless.

      • The bands I named are largely irrelevant to my argument

    • Stockhausen

      Well said, I agree. Except on power metal stuff.

      • How would you prefer your smiting? Or would you just prefer I steal your shoes again?

    • tigeraid

      tl;dr you have the firm belief that those who enjoy metal music should understand its history and origins. I can get behind that.

      • Why weren’t you on my shoulder when I was writing this?

  • Nice job, Joe. This right here is good content.

    (Wonder how long it’ll take for some new writer at MI to post the same exact thing now?)

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Yeah, this is very well written and presented.

    • Óðinn

      I’m guessing it will be only minutes before MI’s readers fill the comments section with racism, as per usual.

      • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

        Minutes?

        • Óðinn

          Seconds.

          • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

            Nanoseconds.

  • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

    What a snobbish article

  • Vote for Jeb

    I think it is worth noting this in regard to my comments with Randall. I think some of my thinking is rooted in academia. We hold groundbreaking science in high esteem, but we are constantly pushed to outdo those works. You need to know them, but knowing them is only good so far as it enables you to surpass themm

    • Everyone knows mixing the greatest bits of the old with the greatest bits of the new makes the best albums. Gorguts did this well, Deathspell Omega kills at this, and a few others I am brain farting on dominate this field

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Ironically those are two of the biggest bands cited as influences in skronk and dissonant black metal, and those two genres are so in vogue right now.

        • In vogue on the toilet, most of my Charlotte friends have never heard of either of those bands

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            You also hang out with punks, two rivers (joking)

            Naught but one of my friends knows Dragonland (because i exposed him), and us true metallers are the most scoffed at. This is despite our bands are just as pure, if not moreso

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            It might be safer to say “on the internet”, as bigger sites than this one cover a lot of dissonant black and death metal regularly.

  • tl;dr: GET OVER YOURSELF. JOIN THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS. TAKE BACK THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION FROM THE BOURGEOIS. SUFFER TOTAL EGO DEATH.

  • dr.derelict

    This was fantastic. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but it’s some compelling shit.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    *applauds snobbily*
    Good show, chap. Quite good indeed.

  • Boss the Ross

    I really don’t know any actual metalheads, so when I talk music with people I get crazy looks, and come of sounding kind of pompous/hipsterish/snobbish.
    It sucks, but I will never give up the metal!

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I don’t either. I’m a giant snob when it comes to the music I like though. I dont really talk about it in public though

      • Same.
        “What kind of music do you like?”
        “I listen to mostly underground metal type stuff.”
        “Oh yeah like who?”
        “No one you’ve heard of, sorry.”
        “Try me.”
        “No thanks.”
        “But seriously, come on, who?”
        “Just leave it alone, man.”
        “Name one band.”
        “Deafheaven.”
        “…”
        “…”

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          My girlfriend’s older brother asked me what bands I liked and I was like “there’s this band Pyrrhon and Yellow Eyes and stuff like that”

          “so nothing I’ve ever heard of probably”

          “yup”

          • Wow, at least he admitted defeat early on. At least once a month I have this dreaded non-conversation with people and I’m not trying to be rude or snobbish but it’s just getting old and there’s nothing in it for me or my interlocutor. A lost cause. “Abandon all hope, ye who intend to ask me about my musical tastes.”

          • more beer

            That is the correct answer.

        • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

          Snob

          • Yup. DARWINIAN EVOLUTION AND/OR GENETIC DRIFT MADE ME THIS WAY.

          • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

            Jeebus made you this way, and he made you make this comment, now go shoot up a school or something! Atheist!

      • Boss the Ross

        I try not to talk about it in public either, but my overall enthusiasm towards music, particularly metal, just can’t contain itself sometimes.

    • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

      Most of my metalhead friends have moved elsewhere, and almost none of them go to shows anymore.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        When it comes to people I know that like music they’re all into either Beyonce or stuff like FFDP.

        • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

          All my friends like worthwhile music, just not always Metal.

          • Boss the Ross

            If it is not metal, it is not music.

            In all seriousness though, i definitely relate to that. I have plenty of good conversations concerning many genres of music with friends, but, as is the case, never metal.

      • Boss the Ross

        An unfortunate truth.

    • Max

      One of the even weirder things that occasionally happens to me when one of the norms asks about my musical taste is when I answer “metal” or something and they actually DO cite a band for clarification, but it’s some really semi-obscure band that nobody within the scene is actually a huge fan of and you’re thinking: How the fuck do you even know that band exists, let alone nominate them as an example?”

      For instance, many years ago I told a very nice, very non-metal girl a few years younger than me that I liked heavy metal when she asked the question, and her follow-up question was: “Oh, like Lawnmower Deth?”

      Like, how the fuck did she EVER come up with them of all bands? All I’ve ever heard of Lawnmower Deth is “Satan’s Trampoline” and “Kids in America”; but I had to say yes simply to reward the sheer improbability of this person actually knowing who they were.

      • Boss the Ross

        Excellent! I feel you man, it’s always weird when someone can pull that out of nowhere.

      • Boss the Ross

        Can I upvote you again for Muad’Dib?

        • Max

          I sense your validation, bro!

    • *doesn’t know any actual metalheads
      *was in Manowar
      mind = blown

      • Boss the Ross

        Triumph! You win sir.

  • VIDEO GAMES NOT ART???
    Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft.
    Fuckin snob.

    • (I totally don’t think video games can be art and am a huge fucking snob.)

      • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

        This a little incredulous.

        • You’re incredulous, or I am? Or both?

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Bloodborne may not have been a work of art, but it was pretty artistic. From Software makes games for snobs I think.

        • I retract my blanket statement. There was this sidescrolling game in all black and white with an eerie ambient soundtrack, it was all about solving puzzles and giant spiders and shit. Limbo? I forget. I sucked at it but it was very clearly artful.

  • I suspect that some people are more butthurt by Scott’s persona than the content of his article. Which are not mutually exclusive, but still.

  • Phoenix of the House Tendies

    So what I’m getting from this is: Everyone should listen to more thrash.

  • more beer

    The answer is know

  • Vladimir Poutine

    “World don’t give a shit. At some point, you have to ask yourself why you care so much about forcing your opinions on it. The things you like are not your identity.”

    Well said. IME things just tend to be more enjoyable when people try to get along or at least not to fuck with each other; aesthetic pursuits are no exception, or at least shouldn’t be. I spent way too much time in philosophy classes arguing with folks for no goddamn reason whatsoever.

    • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

      You would have to pay me to attend college for a degree in Philosophy.

      • Agreed.

      • Vladimir Poutine

        Philosophy has earned most of its bad rep, that’s for sure. Still, it was a fun time, made me a little better at logic, and most importantly helped me make some connections that turned out to yield me a career I like. But the first and third considerations could be true of any discipline, so … yeah, philosophy is usually not the wisest (ha!) course of study.

  • Max

    If we’re gonna talk mainstream critics and cultural snobbery, musicwise the one who I utterly loathe the most is Robert Christgau of the Village Voice. I really, really hate him.

    It’s not that he thinks heavy metal is dumb. For somebody of his baby-boomer generation (not to mention his job description), he’s fairly typical in that he prefers soul, folk and Bruce Springsteen to metal. That doesn’t bother me. It’s one thing to simply not like a style of music.

    What bothers me is that his dismissals are totally unprofessional. Reading his bite-sized reviews of records makes you wonder exactly how much anybody could get out of it whether the review was favourable or not. And for someone who freely concedes that they don’t “get” heavy metal, you have to wonder:

    1) Why labels even bother sending him their metal records.

    2) Why he bothers reviewing them.

    3) What a favourable metal review from Robert Christgau actually portends for that record to people (ie: metalheads) who would potentially be favourably disposed toward it. If Robert Christgau likes your metal record, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    This is a guy, bear in mind, who gave Metallica’s black album literally zero out of ten; as in “a record that has absolutely no redeeming artistic value whatsoever.”

    The black album is not my favourite Metallica album, nor is my Metallica my favourite metal band. And I concede that the record’s hefty (and ongoing to this day) sales figures shouldn’t necessarily have any bearing on critical opinion. But zero out of ten? REALLY? For a record which even at the time seemed significant? ABSOLUTELY zero? That goes beyond the realm of critical snobbery right into the realm of professional malpractice. And that, to me, is a way worse brand of cultural snobbery than that which is to be found within heavy metal itself.

    I’ve heard some bad records. “No redeeming artistic value whatsover”, to me, means a record where not only are all the songs boring or annoying, but where the instruments are out of tune, the playing is woeful, the production obscures the artistic intent, the lyric sheet is full of spelling mistakes, the cover art sucks, etc. Whatever anybody might say about Metallica’s black album, it’s none of those things. It’s not even close to being that bad, no matter what your personal tastes.

    And it’s not the only time he’s done that to metal records which later held up as being culturally significant – at least to people who actually know what the fuck they’re talking about when it comes to metal. I would not pay that fucking guy a cent to write reviews, and if he gave my band a good one I’d be worried.

    • KJM, Tremendous Asshole

      Lester Bangs = most overrated music “journalist” ever

      • Max

        Very much so, although he at least wasn’t as dismissive of heavy metal as most of his peers.

        Having read a fair bit of that Golden Era of Rock critical fare, I don’t think any of them were much good, really.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I like his review of Astral Weeks though. Besides that he’s overrated. I do like VU but not because of him.

  • Óðinn

    A.O. Scott is not better than anyone in general. He is better qualified to speak about film than most. That is his job.

    • Chef Poopypanty’s Fart Soup

      He’s certainly more qualified than Peter Travers (Rolling Stone’s movie critic), who is pretty much bought off by the studios. The fact that he praises Michael Bay every time he squeezes out yet another hulking steamer is proof of that. Any critic who says “white knuckle thrill ride”, “edge of your seat”, “You’ll stand up and cheer” (really has any fucking audience done that?! I’ve worked at theaters, and never saw that happen even once. I’d have to wonder the level of stupidity of anyone who applauds a movie screen) and “feel good movie of the year” to me makes me avoid the film altogether.

      • Óðinn

        I’ve been to films that have had standing ovations, usually at film festivals. The only film I’ve ever been to that had what I would consider an actual spontaneous heart-felt stand ovation was Bowling for Columbine. Everybody just got up and began clapping and cheering at the end of the film.

        • Poopypantys Studmuffin General

          I don’t know which one is worse between the two Michaels!

          • Óðinn

            I do.

  • Stockhausen

    More like Ayyyy lmAO Scott.

    But srs, this was a really great piece of writing, Joe. I tend to agree with Randall’s sentiments on this topic, and I find myself somewhere in the middle of your side and Scott’s. I will NEVER be that much of a douche, but I feel that legitimate arguments can be made in some cases to say that certain music is higher quality than others. That doesn’t need to have any bearing on personal taste or legitimacy of opinions, though.

  • Chef Poopypanty’s Fart Soup

    I treat music about the same as I do food: trying it, keeping an open mind about it, and finding it’s pros and cons. Some things are just inherent truth, though, like the fact that Babymetal is superior to Deafheaven.

  • JamesGrimm

    Yeeaahhhhh, Art in any form should exist for no other reason than to elevate the
    Consciousness and the shear joy of existence of humanity as a whole. It should transcend to some kind of nobility.Critiquing art has always existed and will always exist whether people like you or my self like/not like(exist) any art to any degree. Thats fine your all emotionally distant and analytical to your approach of life and the things that accompany it, but some of us think there is something more, and if not, then we are going to force the point. The art trumps the artist and the consumer I you, us, do not matter.The elevation and continuation of the “art” is all that matters.Since people suck( biologically,spiritually, mentally) Maybe it will make us better in the long run. If we try…

  • xengineofdeathx

    I think video games are definitely art, but fucking Kotaku man. Most of the time they’re fine, but there is always some pretentious dork who writes for them, spewing digital vomit and fucking it all up. You hit the nail on the fucking head though man, art is too subjective to have an ego about your taste. And people should not take themselves so goddamn seriously all the time.

    • Fuck, yes.

      This is accurate.

      • xengineofdeathx

        Thanks brohammer!

  • OldMetalHead

    You pretty much had me until “Video games are not art”. Fucking troll 😛

  • Guppusmaximus

    “What worth do you derive by proclaiming that your consumption habits are somehow more vociferous and complex than the rest of the world?”

    While I agree that arrogantly proclaiming such holds no real value, I’d still suggest in voicing your opinion only because the arts have become a lowest common denominator festival on a mainstream scale. Honestly, I think that is why you guys started this site because the other one, that should not be mentioned, has become a TMZ affiliate for the most part.

    • and the commenters here are more friendly!

      • Based Pingu

        The commenters here are pieces of shit. Especially that one Finnish guy. Fucking hate that guy!

        • you’re the only person who talks about @nordlingritesovkarhu:disqus like that

          • Based Pingu

            What are you talking about? He ain’t Finnish. He is a piece of shit, tho.

        • Guppusmaximus

          Hmmm…That escalated quickly.