Could America Just Be That Stupid?
by Iann Robinson
Sometimes, when I?m tired, I step back and look at the raging battle between the underground music scene and the world of Commercial Music and I start asking myself: what are we fighting for? Day in and day out I hear kids bitching about why such and such band isn?t huge, why do video music channels suck so badly, how come Mastodon and Slayer aren?t really played on major radio stations? We like to chalk it up to some grand conspiracy within the walls of MTV and Clear Channel, but what if that?s not it. What if we?re fighting an opponent that?s just too stupid to understand what they?re doing? It might just be that 90% of America is too fucking stupid to appreciate or understand underground music and we?re all just screaming at a wall trying to get them to see it our way? What?s a huge seller in the music world right now? Usher, Britney Spears, Maroon 5? It seems to me– and people like me– that anybody with the propensity for rational thought could see that these ?artists? are cardboard cutouts raised and groomed to sell a music product?not music. For awhile Limp Bizkit was huge, so was Disturbed and Saliva?I mean for fuck?s sake: SALIVA. These bands suck on so many levels it seems to us standing in the corner with the Obituary T-shirts on that they should be laughed at. Instead they?re trumpeted as metal, as something that?s part of the same scene as Slayer and Celtic Frost—BULLSHIT.
Most of the time large scale success is reserved for bands that are just awful. Success may happen on a small level for bands like Lamb Of God, Cradle Of Filth, Shadows Fall and Mastodon but after awhile the raw power and unforgiving music of those bands scare the audience and it?s back to Disturbed shouting ?Oh waah ahh ahh? in front of sixty thousand screaming jocks. Do you really want to be part of what I call ?Ignorant Metal?. Usually it?s surrounded by frat guys hiding in metal t-shirts and their idiot girlfriends who are dressed up in fifties gear and shaking the oh-so-irrelevant ?metal horns?, and yes once Paris Hilton and the guy on The Amazing Race start using the metal horns, they are IRRELEVANT. I sure as hell don?t want that representing me. Some say that the video channels and radio stations have the power to persuade the American masses. If they?d play good music, everybody would be into good music. What if that?s not true, what if trying to get mass-mall-America to buy underground music is like feeding a Grizzly Bear a salad?they don?t know what it is, what to do with it and they sure as hell don?t want it.
I used to hate the bands for making the music but now it seems like they just don?t know any better. Maybe getting angry at Breaking Benjamin or Cold for not being good bands is like getting mad at kids in the Special Olympics for not being professional athletes?it?s just wrong. Some of you might think it?s just the metal scene but look around, this championing of mediocrity seeps into every music genre. Remember when hardcore and punk were scary, brutal and spit in the face of the status quo? Now look at it, it?s a homogenized fashion show with bands that really try to prove that they?re aggressive but it all ends up sounding like hardcore for girls. Why is that? Why didn?t Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Black Flag and so on become huge? Is it a conspiracy or is just that America is too stupid to understand those bands and needs something easily digested and pretty to look at. When Nirvana hit big everybody thought ?Oh, ok, here?s the entrance of great music into the mainstream.? Well, no, that didn?t happen. The Melvins, Sonic Youth, The Pixies and such didn?t get huge?instead it was Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Candlebox. The so called indie scene didn?t get huge with Guided By Voices, Superchunk or Husker Du. That scene didn?t get big until bands like The Strokes, White Stripes and Interpol came along with their re-hashed retro sound and polished good looks.
It seems like popular culture in America is just too shallow to appreciate the music that might actually make a difference so why try and force the issue? Look at Europe, Japan and South America. So many bands go there and play to huge crowds, with fans that go apeshit when they arrive. Bands can play two thousand seaters to stadiums in those places and then they come back here and play to 500 people ?why is that? Don?t get me wrong, I love America, I just think we?re wasting a lot of energy trying break down walls that are better left up. Fuck ?em, let them have the bad hardcore, nu-metal, shitty indie and the rest of the paper thin bands that try to front like they matter. Keep the underground music world within itself, let it grow naturally, don?t be cliquish?let anybody come in who wants to but if they want to leave, show ?em the door. My whole point is that why fight to be part of an American landscape that doesn?t want us around and are too stupid to understand what we?re doing anyway. I don?t really want popular acceptance that much?do you?
"Thirsty and Miserable" is Iann Robinson’s very own column here at Metal Sludge! Whenever he feels like it, Iann will write about whatever it is that’s on his mind. Much like us, Iann is never one to mince words or hide his feelings, so he’s a welcome addition to our Sludge Family!
To check out Iann’s band, you can visit www.punyhuman.com.