March 14, 2010

Aural crap = moral crap

Should certain forms and formats of music and musical expression be banned, not because of their non-conformism to the accepted western forms of music, nor because they are are mere sounds or noise, but because they are akin to illegal drug taking and induce immoral behaviour?
That's the question that vexes Roger Scruton in a lengthy article for The American (the house organ of the American Enterprise Institute).
His answer behoves his epithet as Margaret Thatcher's favourite philosopher: if young people like their music which old people cannot stand or bear to listen to, then it automatically follows that the young are wrong, stupid, self-indulgent, and worse, prone to addiction and immoral behaviour, by insisting on producing, listening to, dancing to and singing along with their generational music.
So there. The western classical canon stands supreme and no amount of political correctness or moral relativism is going to stop him from dissing any form of popular music.
He is bemused by the fact that since the last century "pop music" (a generic term that he uses that encompasses jazz, Elvis, boy bands and death metal - go figure that one out) has been in the ascendancy as the favourite cultural expression of contemporary generations. Worse, even politicians now want to hang out with pop stars and write legislation with them in mind (wot? gay civil unions?) - it must have been the sight of Blair hanging with Bono that made him apopleptic (it made me vomit too, but for entirely different reasons).

But another thought-provoking article I came across (thank you, Arts & Letter Daily) should induce the final heart attack in Scruton The Crouton: the British state and its law enforcement agencies have been using masterpieces of the Western musical canon such as Mozart to drive away youths from venues where they tend to hang out such as shopping malls, bus stops and other public places. Quite rightly the author berates Britain for turning a whole generation against superb classical music, Clockwork Orange-style.
And it's not only music they use. Irritating noise of certain frequencies that only young people are able to hear clearly is flooding public places too.
Until they will find out that you can dance to any noise, even police or alarm sirens.

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