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Related: disco sucks movement - rock music - white music

Only by killing disco could rock affirm its threatened masculinity and restore the holy dyad of cold brew and undemanding sex partners. Disco bashing became a major preoccupation in 1977. At the moment when Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54 achieved zeitgeist status, rock rediscovered a rage it had been lacking since the '60s, but this time the enemy was a culture with "plastic" and "mindless" (read effeminate) musical tastes. Examined in light of the ensuing political backlash, it's clear that the slogan of this movement--"Disco Sucks!"--was the first cry of the angry white male. --Peter Braunstein, http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/9826/braunstein.php [June 1998]


Rockism is an ideology of popular music criticism, originating in the British music press in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

The fundamental tenet of rockism is that some forms of popular music, and some musical artists, are more authentic than others. More specifically, authentic popular music fits the rock and roll paradigm; it is made using the basic rock instrumentation of guitars, bass guitars and drums, and fits the structures of a rock and roll song. Rockism is suspicious of the use of technology, from synthesizers to ProTools-style computer-based production systems. Rockism places value on the idea of the composer and performer as auteur; authentic music is composed as a sincere form of self-expression, and usually performed by those who composed it. This is as opposed to the notion of manufactured "pop" music, created in assembly line fashion by teams of hired producers and technicians and performed by pop stars who have little input into the creative process, designed to appeal to a mass market and make profits rather than express authentic sentiments.

Rockism is a primitivist ideology; a subtext of rockism is that, at one time in history, they "got music right", and that since then has been a decline. Critics of rockism assert that this vaunted "golden age" of pure, authentic music is a myth, and that popular music never was entirely free of the interference of commercialism, marketing and commodification.

Some critics of rockism have alleged that it is a racist, sexist and/or homophobic ideology, in that the artists it privileges with the label of authenticity are predominantly heterosexual white males; the genres of music attacked by rockist criticism as less authentic than rock have included many black musical genres (hip-hop, R&B), genres associated with the gay community (disco, house) and pop music, where female performers such as Madonna (often charged by rockist critics with inauthenticity and trading on image over substance) have often found success.

Design critic and indie pop musician Nick Currie compared Rockism to the art movement of Stuckism, which held (among other things) that artists who do not paint are not artists. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockism [Apr 2005]

Momus on rockism

Re: rockism?

I didn't coin the term 'rockism'. It came up in the writings of critics like Paul Morley and Simon Reynolds in the UK music press in the 80s. 'Rockism' is a conservative and Romantic ideology of authenticity encountered in rock and pop music. Here are some of the core tenets:

rock music should be bass, drums, guitars
it's about artists and songs, not about production
a good artist is 'keepin' it real'
some artists are more 'real' than others
good songs are timeless
at some point in the past they 'got music right'
music has value to the extent that it's one person emoting sincerely
although the real is very important, the real is today absent (metaphysics)

Other artforms have their own forms of rockism. In art, Stuckists believe that art should be representational, that painting is more 'real' than video, etc etc. Check their manifesto, which begins 'Stuckism is the quest for authenticity' and continues through 'artists who don't paint aren't artists' to 'painting creates worlds within worlds, giving access to the unseen psychological realities that we inhabit' (the metaphysical bit).

More on rockism:




--Momus via http://www.livejournal.com/users/imomus/58927.html [Nov 2004]

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