What do you call a Lawyer moonlighting as a Dentist?
Attorney at jaw! Can you imagine? Tres absurd!
You wouldn’t want a lawyer pulling teeth, would you? So why would anyone want music writing from a sports blog? Or music writing from a gossip blog? Or music writing from a men’s style blog? Or vice versa, vice versa, and vice versa.
Well, apparently that’s exactly what Keith-Anyone-Internet-User wants because that sort of feeble cross-pollination is saturating the already soused blogosphere one (already dubious) bastion of specifically aimed commentary at a time.
Let’s backtrack: they aren’t the first, or even the most egregious offenders, but GQ is currently in the eye of this particular iteration of Hurricane Trendy. As reported by Advertising Age (Ad Age, Adage, get it? It’s like the FedEx arrow): “the men’s fashion title that Anthony Bourdain called a magazine ‘about picking socks,’ is introducing a music section to its website.”
This is not in and of itself terrible. GQ is nominally a lifestyle magazine and music is part of most desirable lifestyles. It would shock no one if equivalent publications like the icecreamist or Esquire added dedicated music sections, so why not GQ? They often cover musicians and make recommendations anyways so it makes sense, right?
But it’s the manner in which they went about the announcement that illustrates the larger issue and the magazine’s enormous misunderstanding of the ever steeper and more slippery slope said larger issue is simultaneously lubricating and increasing the gradient of.
“‘This is not a channel for music nerds,’ said Howard Mittman, GQ’s VP-publisher.”
So basically, here’s a question: Pitchfork too esoteric for you with their fawning praise of legitimate mainstream successes like D’Angelo, Kanye West and Wilco? Well! GQ’s got you covered, my dude!
Nothing is just “for… nerds” anymore. Everything is accessible, streamlined and recycled ad nauseum. It sucks, but it’s not like the readers of GQ were complaining about Grizzly Bear being “a little too difficult” or Pitchfork’s fan-base (whatever that looks like now) wasn’t into Drake. Everything is within everyone’s reach now.
The sad thing is that this is a brazen descent by a publication venerable enough to stay above the fray into the zeitgeist’s waterlogged basement apartment. Why not keep on plugging correspondents into the ridiculous tours of self-caricaturing artists and maybe add a Spotify playlist or two to mollify those left out in the cold by Wondering Sound’s hinterlandic taste?
If every site becomes a one-stop shop, then:
1. The source material becomes even more obscured, which is terrible and makes for surface-level understanding, which in turn dilutes any kind of criticism or conversation about something, which leads to
2. No one really being an expert, and then
3. Whatever underground or counter culture is left is absorbed into the hack milieu to become grossly impersonal, ruin the excitement of discovery (which is basically dead at this point anyways), and bring the people who care ever closer in ability to experience to the people who don’t.
Have you ever had a conversation about something you’re well versed in and care about only to have it ruined by your interlocutor because they just don’t really get it, but think they do?
It sucks. It erodes obscurity; it eats away at the sense of something being special and having personal, difficult-to-parse, intrinsic significance. You wouldn’t ask a casual observer to describe the intricacies of a crime scene, so why would you want some guy who “mostly just listens to stuff while he’s studying/working out/at festivals” to be front row next to you seeing a band that’s been, for better or worse, intimately entwined with your life for a decade? It’s the same reason “fair weather fan” is a pejorative.
When you have Bill Simmons making weak sports-to-movies analogies, or some Gawker subsidiary applying crushing layers of false narrative to a Taylor Swift album while keeping descriptions of what’s actually been recorded to a bare minimum, you set a terrifying standard for what cultural conversations ought to consist of. Not everyone needs to be some distorted spread-umbrella amalgam of all things topical. Not everyone should! If you want to read about music, read a music publication; want to read about sports? A sports publication is for you, etc, etc, etc.
Everything may be accessible and streamlined and easy to read half-assed analysis of, but that doesn’t make the nuances any more digestible to the marginally invested; it just makes them believe there’s nothing to digest beyond some middleman’s limp take on the progressive political ramifications of El-P instructing his oh so many detractors to “run naked backwards through a field of dicks.” The corners of specified knowledge are shrinking by the minute. There’s just an oozing, regurgitated amoeba of cultural signifiers giving people a false sense of knowledge and taste, and, as any enthusiast would agree, we’re worse off for it.
But, I mean, who cares, right? Maybe that Lawyer just didn’t feel like graduating dental school because it wasn’t that important to him. Which is, of course, the problem.