Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Let it happen, dude.

71-year-old Martin Bernheimer is up in arms at the diminishing number of music criticism posts in American print news. The bloggers (AC Douglas, Lisa Hirsch, etc.) are equally appalled at his statements that "anyone can blog" and "anyone can impersonate an expert." But aren't they missing the point?

Firstly, Bernheimer fails to correlate his addressed topic with trends that have been happening for decades in our country: arts programs disappearing in public schools, symphonies on their last legs...it's late capitalism, man! It only matters if it makes money! Nothing's gonna change by making self-justifying claims for educated arts criticism. "Essentially, our civilisation is tilting towards anti-authoritarian contests." Yes, Martin--that's right. And there's nothing you can do about it. And it's liberating. People don't want to be told what to think any more. They're turned off by elitism (yes, I meant to use that word). They want a (usually fictional) sense of agency in a world that's moving way too fast for them to comprehend.

In their responses, in which they argue for their own education and cultural authority, the bloggers are doing nothing different than Bernheimer: attempting to perpetuate the sinking role of the critic. Just because music blogs are hot now doesn't mean they won't suffer the same fate as print news some time quite soon. Hirsch does add some relevant insight about the differences between many bloggers and self-proclaimed print music experts:
I cannot say that any of them are in any way "impersonating" experts; the non-pros are perfectly clear about the fact that they're not professionals. I'd really like it if Mr. Bernheimer could point out some people who are impersonating classical music experts or taking jobs away from professional critics. And I hope he'll keep in mind the fact that the blogosphere is more like a salon than like a newspaper: a bunch of people sitting around exchanging opinions with themselves and their readers.
Douglas, however, in an eloquent example of true elitism, writes that the "rise of the rabid equalitarianism and populism that today so malignantly infects our American cultural life" shows up everywhere, "most perniciously in the high arts, a domain in which classical music arguably occupies the highest station."

We all need to just accept that our opinions are no more important than anyone else's.
People still might want to read them, because we take the time to document, and to provide links to other articles of interest.

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