"Music Wars"

I have always been from the school of thought that the music of the times is a reflection of those times - the good and the bad in our world.  So, in my mind,  when politicians and preachers call for bans on certain types of music to solve a problem in society, they really are asking to break the mirror so that we all have one less view of what they and us, as a society, have been unable to correct.

Iím also finding that music fans are sometimes a reflection of the times.  We seem to live in a "musical world" that, like society itself, is divided.  Divided like the sections in a music store that separate us into little "countries" of  "pop", "rock", "country" and "rhythm & blues".   Occasionally, new "countries" establish themselves, like "metal" and "rap", and carve out a piece of this musical world for themselves.  This is where musical patriotism begins to take hold among fans forcing them to take a side, when no side really needs to be taken.

It doesnít always seem to be about musical taste.  In any art form people hold different preferences and tastes.  Thatís part of what makes music magical - how different rhythm patterns and lyrics can move people in different ways.  However,  in the music world today, criticism seems to manifest itself in a more aggressive form, with some music fans saying, "My music is the best and everything else sucks."  Some of this attitude can be attributed to the hormonal changes of youth, but when it comes from a thirty plus music fan there has to be something deeper at work. This mentality is found throughout the musical community and, closer to home, throughout the "rants" on the KNAC.COM site.

Having no musical talent myself, I am truly amazed when ANYONE can put notes together and make it into a cohesive work, so I am baffled when people, rather than speak of the virtues of their own personal musical tastes, will run down other styles of music.  However, when placed in the context of the rest of society, then this "musical intolerance" matches the mood of the times, and I shouldnít be surprised.

This "musical intolerance" sometimes goes beyond the music itself.  Hair length and fashion changes are sometimes factors in changing attitudes about an artist.  This coupled with any sort of  progressive changes in that artists musical style and they are suddenly given the scarlet letter "S" for sell out.  In other periods of the rock era, the musical progression of an artist was applauded.  In today's musical climate many fans will not allow an artist to move past their original sound, musical style or genre.  Everyone loses in that kind of restrictive environment.

Ironically, today, the most predominant and most interesting fusion of music  is also the biggest target of the musically intolerant.  The criticism by some of the fusion between rock and rap begs the question:  Are the intentions of the criticism strictly musical?  Obviously, that answer lies in the heart of those critics, but based on the real world racial intolerance by some, both in the white and African-American communities, you do have to wonder if we are once again looking into that mirror.  The real irony of this division is that metal fans and rap fans are generally under attack by the same forces outside the musical community who have no clue about how music can change and empower lives in a positive way.  The combination of these two genres of music, which have already proven to be musically a powerful force, could be an even more powerful political force if they banded together to fight those that would call for the ban of rap and rock music.  The light bulb needs to go off in the minds of music fans that a call for a ban on any type of music only sets the stage to have "their music" banned as well.

© 2000 Mike Stark


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