The words of the song by Joan Jett came to mind when I read this email from
Richard Koch, author of the 80/20 Principle:
IT’S ONLY ROCK & ROLL – BUT I LIKE IT
And now for something completely different. Does pop music – and popular culture generally – herald the end of Western civilization?
One man who believes it might do is the admirable Jonah Goldberg, whose Suicide of the West I have already reviewed favorably. In one chapter of this book – Pop Culture Politics – he says some truly intriguing things. He quotes Victor Hugo, who said “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words, and that which cannot remain silent.” He could well have also quoted Plato – “A change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard to all our fortunes. For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling the most fundamental political and social conventions.”
Can this really be true?
“Popular culture,” Jonah says, “gives us the clearest widow into the romantic dimension that we all live in.” This is not a compliment.
“My claim,” he goes on, “is not so much that there are elements of romanticism in rock and roll, but that rock and roll is romanticism” – which for Jonah is a bad thing. He gives a list of the key themes of rock and roll and other popular music – “defy authority and throw off the chains, true love, damn the consequences, nostalgia for an imagined better past, the superiority of youth, contempt for selling out, alienation, paganism and pantheism, and, like an umbrella over it all, the supremacy of personal feelings above all else.”
“Rock and roll fancies itself as outside ‘the system.’ It claims a higher or truer authority based on feelings that, like the poets of earlier generations, defy the tyranny of the slide rule and the calculator … Nowhere is the romantic mixture of pantheism, primitivism, and the primacy of feelings more evident than in rock’s appeal to inner authority and authenticity … Nor is it a coincidence that rock appeals most directly to adolescents. Your teenage years are the time when the civilized order and your inner primitive are most at war.”
“It is also no coincidence that the post-World War II era of peace, prosperity, and conformity largely created the idea of the teenager. The buttoned-down 1950s gave adolescents something to rebel against. Similarly, the peace and prosperity of the post-Cold War world created the adolescent forty-year-old. The comfort of prosperity leads, in Schumpeterian fashion, to a cultural backlash against the established order and bourgeois values.”
Jonah then goes on to consider hit movies. Movies such as The Exorcist, The Godfather, The Stepford Wives, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest all had this in common – “The idea that contemporary life was out of balance and off-kilter, inauthentic, or oppressive, and that elites and the system were broken, corrupt, or inadequate to the task of making life right.”
The glorification of violence, he says, is also a huge problem....Read the full Article Here.
There's a good, positive twist towards the end........
Nowadays I often wake up to the words of Sixteen Tons by Tenessee Ernie Ford
You load 16 tons and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't you call me, 'cos I can't go,
I owe my soul to the company store........
Instead of: Oh! What a Beautiful Morning - by Joel Mcrea
Oh! What a beautiful morning,
Oh! What a beautiful day,
I've got a beautiful feeling,
Everything's going my way......
That always make me feel a lot better. How about you?