Fair-weather trends - a rant

Fair-weather trends

a long, disorganized and somewhat self-serving rant by Kevin Clow

Recently, while chatting with someone on the internet, I was confronted with an observation that felt a lot like an accusation. Even though Iím 25, he compared me to himself when he was a teenager, rejecting anything popular only because itís popular. I think this was mostly due to me mentioning that I like Sarah McLachlanís first 2 albums more than her recent works, and observing that some of her new stuff sounds more "commercial". Now, this opinion really has nothing to do with actual commercial success, and everything to do with pure sound, but I can see how it could be misinterpreted. Quite often, I have to step back and look at what I like and what Iím into, and make sure Iím being sincere. While itís true I try to avoid anything "mainstream", I donít let somethingís popularity or lack thereof dictate whether or not I like it. For example, much of the underground music world (the real alternative, as opposed to what the radio calls alternative) rejects Marilyn Manson, partly because of his commercial success and popularity. I personally like the music. Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails are among my favorites. However, I despise such acts as Hanson and Backstreet Boys, not just because of their popularity, but mostly because of their annoying songs and videos. Itís the same regurgitated crap that the likes of Tiffany and New Kids on the Block gave us 10-15 years ago. You may have noticed that I said "not just because of their popularity", suggesting that it is a factor. What I mean is, it disgusts me how much money and fame these pretty boys get. It disgusts me, but it doesnít surprise me. In fact, knowing how easy it is for them to get

it makes me resent them even more. This doesnít just apply to music, though. Beliefs, attitudes and life styles also seem to have certain rules tagged onto them as well. Much of Christianity wonít accept me because Iím an anarchist, and much of anarchism shuns me because Iím Christian. Because religion in general, but especially Christianity, is thought of as oppressive, naive and corrupt, just mentioning Iím a Christian is enough reason for some people to think of me as some brainwashed blind sheep. They tell me that a Christian anarchist is a contradiction in terms. I completely disagree. Iíve heard Jesus referred to as "the original hippie", and I tend to agree. He constantly question authority, befriended social outcasts, and made pompous religious leaders look like the asses that they were. Maybe if more anarchists would look at this side of Jesusí life, rather than the cartoon character many churches have turned Him into, theyíd have a different view. He was more of an anarchist than most people I know.

I guess Iím having one of those moments where I have a lot of things to say, but they donít all go together, so Iíll try to connect that last paragraph with the initial point I was trying to make; I believe what I believe because I believe it. Not because itís popular or unpopular. And before you decide to nit-pick things Iíve said and call me a hypocrite, understand this: everyoneís a hypocrite, and anyone who says they arenít is the worst kind of hypocrite. Iím against animal testing, but Iím not a vegetarian, and I know thereís a certain hypocrisy in that, but at least I admit it. I wanna go back to the music thing, but Iím too lazy to segue right now. Iím a big fan of They Might Be Giants. Theyíve had a few hits (Donít Letís Start, Birdhouse in Your Soul, Istanbul not Constantinople), but theyíve never been "the next big thing". Recently They released Severe Tire Damage, a mostly live album. The first single and video is "Dr. Worm", and there has been some interesting discussions lately on the internet. A lot of fans are saying "call your local radio stations and request Dr. Worm, make it a hit!", but some are up in arms, arguing that if TMBG become a hit, the fan base will suddenly be flooded with poseurs. While Iím tempted to take that position, I think itís important to look at what "alternative culture" really means. Alternative isnít just a matter of rejecting popular culture (if this were true, the Amish would be alternative). Alternative is about liking what you want to like, and believing what you feel is right. Sure, alternative things becoming mainstream can be annoying, but if we tell someone "youíre not alternative because you listen to Matchbox 20", then we become the cliques that we originally rebelled against. The only truly alternative people are those who donít think of themselves as better than anyone who dresses differently than they do, and listens to different music than them. If you decide someone sucks because they like a top 40 band, or because they still wear plaid grunge-wear, then youíre not alternative, youíre elitist.

Well, I guess thatís all I have to say, and Iím too tired (and, again, too lazy) to come up with a neat & tidy closing statement, except to say donít let anyone else tell you what to like or dislike, and donít put anyone down for what they like to believe.


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