First Issue- What is the problem?
Contemporary popular music is one vast cultural problem among many (but it’s a problem of great magnitude due to the scope of its influence). It is a precise indicator of what ails society (if one looks for the correct symptoms).
Personal expression has ceased to be the provenance of the individual and has been transfigured into a commodity which is bought and sold by clothing manufacturers or computer companies. This is exemplified by how virtually impossible it is to find a contemporary musical artist who is doing something of emotional weight or resonance (but it’s far easier to lust over an iPod, an iPad or the new “Call Of Duty” video game).
The newest generations of artists have the age-old fire of expression burning inside them which they desperately need to vent and expose. However, unlike creative people who flourished at other periods in history, these artists don’t have the tools with which to effect this venting.
They don’t know how to look for these tools, let alone, what to look for.
It’s not for lack of trying (or wanting) which has denied new generations their implements and their entree. There simply is no one who is skilled and willing enough to pass the torch on to them.
The fact that popular music has become a disposable, artificial wasteland is only the tip of the cultural iceberg. On the underside of this iceberg is the fall out from the musical freefall (and the long range effects it has on other art forms, education, business, etc).
The degeneration of popular music also underscores the essence of society from a completely different perspective. Our social order does absolutely nothing to reinforce or support any kind of originality or personal expression.
And, this lack of support regarding personal expression falls heaviest on young people. In the present social order, young people are considered less as functioning contributors and more as members of a demographic.
Of course, young people in this society are often raised to believe that they are entitled to greatness, as opposed to having to earn it. However, they require having this put in the proper context so they can experience the payoff they would obtain through earning (as opposed to simply getting).
Young people can only receive this awareness from those who raise and teach them. For that reason alone, children require parents, teachers and mentors. These capacities are commodities which grow scarcer.
Second Issue- What roles have we all played in allowing this debacle to occur?
Events that occur on a large scale are usually a result of the action (or inaction) of many individuals operating in any sort of collusion. As individuals, this means that (in some small way), we have played a role in precipitating the events that involve (or occur around) us.
If I am willing to accept accountability (and personal responsibility) for what happens in my life, how might I also be accountable for what has happened around me?
As I suggested earlier, in order to effect change, to be proactive, one must be willing to acknowledge their role in allowing (or forcing) a situation to degenerate (and thereby, their power in helping the situation to regenerate).
Here, I use myself as an example.
I played a part (however small) in the degeneration of popular music. In the past ten years, I made some poor choices that were based (in part) on bad judgment and an ardent desire for transient, illusory things.
Over that time, I disrespected my own abilities. I gradually turned away from the world and away from being creative. Instead of working, I turned inward.
By forsaking the gifts I possessed and instead, becoming embittered, I deprived the world of my voice in a narcissistic and egocentric manner.
By essentially inviting the world to pass me by (and taking my abilities for granted), I created a small void for others less vigilant to fill.
In my own way, I feel this is my accountability for what has happened in the current debacle. And, as I accept personal responsibility for my actions, I also affirm my power to correct them.
Now, perhaps you can apply similar criteria to your own action or inaction. Take a look at yourself and see how you might have some kind of responsibility or accountability (and therefore, power) in this situation.
Third Issue- What can/ will I do about it?
This very moment is the time to take a stand. It’s time to be seen and to be heard.
I am willing to address these issues, whether or not anyone else is. I’m committing myself to help new artists. Since I feel strongly that there will be no new talent of great substance without assistance from somewhere (or someone), I’m prepared to put my money where my mouth is.
I will do this because I love music. I love art, I love everything about the outward (and inward) expression of human beings.
People have a remarkable capability to generate, communicate and transfer their deepest emotions to others through various means that they’ve essentially fabricated out of thin air.
How magnificent we are: how amazing that we can perform such magic, such alchemy- create such music, such art.
At its beginning, music may primarily have been a mode of communication, perhaps even a means of survival. Then, human beings turned it into an art form.
And suddenly, the art form has soured and gone bad. That’s correct- it’s wrong, the magic has been completely excised.
From communication, to art form, to garbage.
And it is because of this transformation that music has ceased to communicate anything of necessity or value to anyone. I would venture that this is the first time in history such a travesty has befallen humankind.
What kind of a world is this wherein video games are more exciting (and better entertainment value) than music? What kind of world is this wherein an art form which has enabled great civilizations to survive and flourish down through milennia is usurped by transience, valuelessness and flash?
What do you feel? Do you disagree with any of these points? Do you feel as if there is an equitable balance between the insipid, loud, knee-jerk, machined pop music that the world is currently awash in, and music which pours directly out from the soul of an artist (finally coming to rest inside your very being)?
Do you feel that you have in no way contributed to this state of affairs (and therefore, you have neither the power nor the inclination to change anything)?
Do you like things as they are? Are you comfortable, first with music, then culture and finally, your civilization collapsing around you like a house of cards?
Or do you not only agree with this assessment, you feel that I’m missing a boat load of adjectives to describe the problem?
Where do you stand?