Thursday, 8 September 2011

Culture mod and pop music linked? I am not sure at all.

My brother - firmly established in singapore and just as well since recent rainless weather is almost certainly where Melbourne will be forever headed - sent me today an article by "Elliott Wave" that aims to show how popular culture is related closely to swinging economic fortunes, based on a 2009 study by USA Today.

The argument is that the angry mood of the late 1970s "punk revolution" reflected the way in which markets were collapsing due to stagflation, and the same with the Bush Senior Era's rap revolution.

On the other side, the "Oh, wow, I feel great and I love everybody" sentiment of the 1960s is seen as reflecting the long boom since World War II. Author Susan C. Walker even extends her idea before rock even existed, arguing that the atonal music of Bartok reflected the downturn from World War I and the Great Depression. To me, that is unlikely; rather atonal music - which is wrongly seen as rebellious I think - may reflect the highly sensual culture found in developed sectors of the Enriched World during the 1920s. "The Waste Land", with hindsight, was a reaction against the materialistic excesses that some saw as philosophically responsible for the colonial struggles crucial for producing World War I. (The same is basically true of, say Patti Smith's decadent mysticism in the late 1970s which combines almost-religious tones with extremely sensual poetry). Another big problem is when they say:

Some darker rock bands even get back together when the mood sours. AC/DC hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2008, and The Sex Pistols returned to the concert circuit after the Dow peaked in 2007.

they fail like so many to recognise how AC/DC and the Sex Pistols were anything but dark. Rather, they were about trying to eliminate all rationale for restrictions on hedonistic pleasure as hand existed in Western culture since Christianity. Their music was celebratory like no other bands before: to the point of celebrating violence. It is more likely that the period between punk and the Bush Senior Era reflects the rise of the Baby Boom Generation and its frequently hedonistic and extremely selfish attitudes. If these have been repressed by commercial radio since the Bush Senior radicals faded, they could come back if later generations are equally selfish and not because of economic factors.

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