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    Music in a Woke Time

    There's something really deep about #metoo, "Cancel Culture," and "wokeness" in general. Among it is what I think is a general rejection of the edgelord culture that burst in to the mainstream in the late 1960s with Woodstock and continued on through Generation X, with grunge, gangsta rap, MTV, Lollapolooza, violent video games and reality television.

    When I was in an Uber car last year, I noticed a driver was playing nothing but instrumental music. This is something I liked growing up but it was atypical. It was the instrumental hip-hop variety - Blockhead, DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, Massive Attack, etc. I asked him why he chose this kind of music and he said that it did not alienate or trigger (another woke term) clients. He added that the lyrics to some hip-hop, which was still his favorite genre, was just "too much."

    There's a radio station up in Seattle, Washington called KIXI. It's an easy listening station. Their tagline is "music as cool now as it was then." The station has been playing "beautiful music" since 1951, but when it was being marketed during the early 2000s, it seemed to appeal to Christian families that wanted something to accompany their right wing talk radio. While listening to it recently, I couldn't help but think that that Uber driver would appreciate it, and indeed I did recommend it to him. 

    All that edgy music from the 60s in to the 2000s, ultimately, was the music of free market capitalism. It was the soundtrack of people fiending in a stripped down system in which you had to hustle and work non-stop if you wanted to survive. If you didn't work, you had to come up with some scheme to get people to throw money at you. 50 Cent encapsulated this the best with his classic 2003 album - Get Rich or Die Trying. That was as close as mainstream rap ever got to a concept album (underground hip-hop did it plenty of times) with the concept being the triumph of a parentless young black boy in a system that literally tried to kill and discard him.

    Wokeism differs from the liberalism of Baby Boomers in that, whereas Boomers deconstructed norms, millenials appear to be seeking to establish new ones. They are not simply going back to what was there before Boomers took on the task of deconstruction (although the rise of the Alt Right and Trumpism certainly represents that) but are establishing new norms and showing that they are serious about these norms by enforcing them.

    The "Marilyn Manson Reckoning," as the New Yorker called it. The accusations against the rock star are fairly hard to deny - he has taken promotional shots wherein he has shown off his swastika tattoos, and fellow goth rocker turned soundtrack composer Trent Reznor disowned him long ago in the 1990s, calling him someone who would "step on anybody's face to succeed and cross any line of decency." Wes Borland, formerly of Limp Bizkit, confirmed that the accusations were true and that Manson is "fucked up."

    Manson's whole aesthetic was being fucked up, and he lasted as long as he did because the Generation X audience loved it. Millenials don't and so he is cancelled. There were plenty of people on the Religious Right who tried bringing down Marilyn Manson, blaming him for the school shootings that occurred in the late 1990s and 2000s, but it was largely liberals like Michael Moore who defended him. His documentary Bowling for Columbine extoled Manson as intelligent and in no way responsible for mass shootings:

     

     

    From Moore's podcast, it seems that he sees himself every bit as part of the woke progressive movement, and Google search results show that Moore has stayed totally silent about accusations leveled at the rock star. Manson's reckoning rejects the notions of Bowling for Columbine though - his accusers are asserting that his music completely represented what Brian Warner (his real name) was like as a person.

    Over the past few years, Manson has also enjoyed a second career in Russia, which has had correlation in time with a rising Alt Right movement that is also seen as having support from elements in that country. (Given that the Columbine shooters were overtly racist and fascinated with terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, it wouldn't be difficult to tag them as early signs of Alt Right extremism.) All that might make Manson's comments about "listening" to the Columbine killers a bit disconcerting 20 years on. 

    Time will tell what culture will come out of wokeism. Some burgeoning pop stars, like Lil Nas X, seem to have just recreated the shock of Marilyn Manson for a whole new audience. However, there may be an audience for a new set of norms.

    Comments

    Not sure Manson has been relevant for GenX in 20+ years.

    And I'd hate to lump him in with other MeToo/cancel controversies, as he pretty well documented nasty indulgent behavior long ago, so it's more a long overdue recognition than a surprise revelation.

    Still, I'd be careful about attributing the same creativity to Lil Nas X quite yet - the modern industry is team efforts and makeovers - even in Manson's heyday quite a lot was personal style, almost totally self-created image, whoever Manson walked over it stole from to create it - he lived the lifestyle, not just set it up for an album and moved on 

    The latest Nas X video is a bit like Dr Parnassus' Imaginarium (Terry Gilliam 20005?) - nicely done, but it's someone else's film aside from the shock jock parts (and the poor was stolen). And frankly, going anal with Satan isn't quite the creative unexpected as say Manson's Marilyn Poppins (which smacks of the children catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - let's tarnish all your Disney memories at once...)



    Lumping grunge into "the edgelord culture that burst in to the mainstream in the late 1960s with Woodstock and continued on through Generation X, with grunge, gangsta rap, MTV, Lollapolooza, violent video games and reality television" is a huge mistake.

    Grunge (as represented by the original bands - Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, The Gits, etc.) was extremely socially conscious, feminist, and so on - and at a time where being all those things was less of a cultural norm, and so more likely to have grave consequences on one's career and wellbeing. Grunge's also rooted in punk as a philosophy - Cobain and Vedder are known to have publicly and enthusiastically promoted Fugazi, Soundgarden was into the MC5 and Ramones, and so on.

    The woke culture owes a huge debt to the grunge movement. Watch the "Hype!" documentary, check out riot grrrl, look at L7, Hole, Sleater-Kinney, The Gits, Sonic Youth, Veruca Salt, then we can discuss whether grunge deserves the condescension.


    Very good point - I'd add one of my favs, Betty Blowtorch, but also Kim Deal with Pixies/her own group w sis The Breeders , and Patti Smith's Radio Ethiopia was some kind of proto-grunge (+follow-on PJ Harvey). (Cozy, aka Cozy Fanny Tutti's role in Throbbing Gristle/Industrial music also noted). Bad Brains was a brilliant black thrash band. Per your point, people seemed to be accepted - gnarly and amped up in whatever form was the name of the game. Henry Rollins/Black Flag was also quite progressive, same with Jello Biafra/Dead Kennedys, Zack/Rage Against the Machine, too many figures to name. I knew a rather grunge girl who arranged concerts, knew all the bands, knew when to be tough, when normal/laid back & fun, great bit of enthusiastic energy. The culture surround all these bands and scenes are as important as the acts themselves.

    (btw, if you register, don't have to wait for me to approve posts, but no big deal)


    helpful big picture cultural comment, thank you!


    Detroit 1970 - the revolution will be televized

    https://youtu.be/0VR-K9XXjsQ


    A lot of popular music that seemed progressive 20 or 30 years ago has ended up being perceived very different now. It's not just Marilyn Manson - Morrissey has quite a different reputation now than he did even ten years ago.

    Also, I didn't have time to add this in to what I wrote but Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, has evolved in to a soundtrack composer. His contemporary solo music is also somewhere between M83 and new wave, every bit as brilliant as he was in the 1990s but free of that level of angst and rage.

     

     


    Trent Reznor,Mankfilm soundtrack


     

    Yeah, but my point is that grunge is as progressive now as it was 25 years ago (with the odd exception, see Billy Corgan's MAGA fascination).

    Here's another link supporting that theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Alive#CD_and_contributions

    Then there's the No WTO Combo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_No_WTO_Combo

    Eddie Vedder and Howard Zinn: http://www.feelnumb.com/2011/05/06/eddie-vedder-tribute-to-howard-zinn-o...

    And on, and on...


    I left off Hanna/Bikini Kill earlier just cuz (aside from a Sonic Youth video, Bull in the Heather) i don't know her, but up she pops again.


    "Aw shit on it" - girls in punk
    (special kudos to Jordan, The Slits & Chrissie Hynde)
    https://youtu.be/1NLMU_xCCUA


     


    So, as long as we are talking about music, there is this: 


    Great commercial. ICYMI, he doesn't even need such talented input, he's already the strong frontrunner. That could change, of course, but I don't think so, unless some scandal fucks him up. It's one of those years of extreme frustration with the Dem machine pols, and he's the obvious alternative (Whether he's capable or not, that doesn't matter, when New Yorkers are this desperate, they'll risk that! It's like: what not? nothing else has worked.)


    When Yang first debuted on the national stage, he got called a "white nationalist" by some - and actual white nationalists like Richard Spencer expressed support for him. It looks like that hasn't gone away as he has run for mayor of NY:


    The Dem machine, as personified by the current mayor's wife, and extremely controversial new schools chancellor, do CRT lock stock and barrel, are like CRT poster children. New Yorkers as a whole will tolerate that for a cycle, while rolling their eyes, then it gets to the point where they can't stand it anymore and elect a Bloomberg or Giuliani. It's way past time for one of those mayoral race smackdowns, especially since the majority now loathes DeBlasio and can't wait to see his backside.

    So these kind of attacks on Yang are a feature, not a bug. winkWhile not discouraging elite liberals who know that's bullshit, it draws in like, Staten Islanders who go hmmm, interesting.


    Here's The Wokest worrying that buying too many clothes at thrift stores for resale profit is unethical. Capitalism = criminal intent, even if it's good for the planet, just don't think it at all.


    there's always the outliers:


    I really wish I never had to hear that song again, whether by pre-teenyboppers or the original.


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