While this post was inspired by the stupid hate surrounding Lorde’s most recent album, it applies to all music and all artists.
We live in a world that loves to paint things in black and white. It’s easier that way because sometimes we’re too dumb or too busy or too arrogant to recognize nuances on complex issues in our ever-changing society. For the sake of brevity and exhaustion regarding our headache-inducing political climate, I will refrain from specific examples. We know what they are.
However, in the last five to ten years, I have seen this polarization seep into the arts. Something is either really good or it sucks. Love it or hate it. And I feel the shift has become more hypercritical rather than hyper-praiseworthy. Although admittedly, the hyper-praiseworthy gets old as well.
The most obnoxious bandwagon everyone has been hopping on, however, is that of hate, the hypercritical. It’s cool to hate. It’s the in thing to hate. They’ve taken the cliche that everyone’s a critic and taken it to an extreme. I sound a billion years old right now, but you know I’m right.
All of it stems from one thing: expectations not meeting reality. It steams from the fact that something turned out to be different than you expected or wanted it to be and for whatever reason, it is now labeled as trash or a dumpster fire, all because it did live up to your dumb expectations.
The negativity found online, especially concerning entertainment and the arts, whether it be tv, movies, or music, is exhausting. If you don’t like something, if something didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, get over it. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s trash. The artist doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing. To believe that all artists create for the benefit of the consumer is naive and arrogant all at the same time. Get over yourself and grow up. Sure, artists are grateful when they have an audience but also so many would continue to create whatever it is they create simply out of their love for creating. They do it in spite of what people think, not because of it. A true artist derives their purpose not from the audience’s reception of their art but from the act of creating itself. Any praise or positive reception is a byproduct of a process and not the end goal.
I am not only a pretty big music nerd, but I also listen to quite a few sports podcasts. There’s this one podcaster that told a story about how he learned not to heckle at sporting events. He was at a game in college at his small school, and their team won. Afterward, they were walking away and one of the players on the opposing team was getting carted away one of those motorized carts. As the player passed by, the podcaster started talking trash, and the player responded with a simple comeback: “Play a sport.” He didn't yell it. He just said it. The podcaster talked about how that cut him to the core, and made him realize that he had absolutely no right to talk trash to this guy. It's like that infamous Teddy Roosevelt quote, "The Man in the Arena," that rise and grind social media loves to constantly quote. The credit belongs to the person who is willing to put in the work.
I feel the same way about criticizing an album, an artist, or a song. You want to complain, but you’re not going out and putting everything on the line to make music, so shut up.
When an album comes out, so many people feel like they have so many things to say, myself included. And unless your name is Train and you’re releasing a song derived from one of the most basic melodies known to man, I will probably stay silent if I don't like it. That’s just personal preference because I believe the entertainment industry has gotten too incredibly negative.
Like imagine if every time someone brought up your name in conversation multiple people automatically, without being asked, just said, “Yeah I really liked Jamie until they were like 25. After that, everything they did was trash.” Well guess what! No one likes Jamie’s because all Jamie’s suck! (No matter how you spell it.)
Now, this is most likely to be more true for any given person (especially a Jamie) than it is for an artist but we, for the most part, have found a way as a society not to say something like that every time a normal person's name is mentioned, and the world still just keeps spinning.
The point I'm trying to drive home here is that it’s okay to have opinions not everyone shares. You shouldn’t be ostracized for not liking something, but you also shouldn’t be ostracized for liking something either. You should only be ostracized if you’re truly a piece of shit. Liking or not liking an album or a tv show or a movie shouldn’t be grounds for making fun of someone whether they’re the artist or whether they’re just someone with an opinion. Except for Pitchfork. Screw those guys.
It’s ok to like something others don’t. It’s okay to like something that’s incredibly popular. But if you don’t like something, it’s also okay to just shut the fuck up about it. Stop being so goddamn pretentious and fucking enjoy something or let someone else enjoy something for once. Jesus Christ, people. Just leave people alone about what they like or dislike and let’s be a little fucking kinder about things that matter less. While we're at it, just a little kinder in general. I realize the irony in this last paragraph.
So, come here often?