Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spurgeon’s General Warning: Don’t Be a Dick

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 8:30 AM

He sounds fun
  • He sounds fun
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people, armed with smug self-righteousness and an Internet connection, take to their online soapboxes and denounce the sheeple who deign to participate in some mass pop-cultural event because HAVE YOU HEARD OF SYRIA??? Congratulations, you have read the news. I’m not saying you can’t care about the world. I’m not saying you have to Lord Byron it and run off for some freedom fighting.

I’m just asking you to seriously think about your argument.

Oh, I want to ask exactly how many hours these people have spent volunteering at soup kitchens vs. hours spent watching pornography, but I’m trying to be more mature with my counterpoints, so I’ll just ask: Have they followed this thought through to its logical conclusion? If so, it can really mean only one thing: They believe that no one should create, and no one should enjoy another person’s creativity, as long as there are horrors in the world. Which, if earth stays on trend, will be forever.

Millions of Chinese people starved to death during the release of these popular films
  • Millions of Chinese people starved to death during the release of these popular films

“But!” I can hear my imaginary opponent saying, “Not all creativity is created equal!” Well, that’s a value judgment, and a hard one to navigate responsibly. Obviously there is good stuff and bad stuff. Shitty shows and great shows. Crappy books and worthy books. But really, if you’re choosing to consume media rather than better the world at any given moment, does it really matter what kind of media you’re consuming? Those folks at the nursing home are still going to be lonely even though you’ve chosen to stay home and read Hamlet instead of Flowers in the Attic.

The popularity of “Sugar, Sugar” coincided with ongoing violations of African-American civil rights. Coincidence?

It’s OK to have opinions and preferences, but you have to be fair about it. Literary fiction is not inherently superior to genre fiction. Drama is not more important than comedy just because it’s “serious.” And oh, lordy, youth culture. My colleague Seth Graves touched on this yesterday: It’s easy (and fun!) to denigrate youth culture, because it’s for children and children are dumb. But today’s children are no dumber than you were at their age, and no dumber than your parents, and no dumber than your grandparents. Frank Sinatra, bubblegum pop, basically the entire concept of hip-hop and, like it or not, dubstep, are all equally reprehensible as long as you’re the generation that’s just a little too old for it. The relative respectability of any art form is grandfathered in — that is, an art form becomes respectable because your grandpa tells you it is.

Sonic Youth had the audacity to release an album the same year the Bosnian War began

So. Pointing out the fact that atrocities exist in the middle of a pop culture event doesn't make you smarter, better or more informed than anyone else. It’s entirely possible to be an empathetic, educated person who also likes disco. And man, this is a further argument for another day, but do they imagine that people living in war zones or stuck in abusive households or victims or assorted crimes don't care about pop culture at all? We all contain multitudes.

Don’t be a dick.

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