Monday, November 23, 2009

You can't judge art!

A blogger recently blogged about how much they liked a certain song (MBD's Moshiach). I left one of those comments that say "I'm only leaving this comment to subscribe to comments from other people who actually have something intelligent to say but I'm not so gauche as to do it with the word 'subscribing' so I came up with something inane to take its place" though not necessarily in those words. Be that as it may (and it may well be), about thirteen seconds after I left that comment I was dishing up a bowl of chili when it hit me like a bolt of bricks (not the chili, that was safely in my bowl). "Someone actually admitted to liking Jewish music!" I thought, "I should've written something sarcastic about someone actually admitting to liking Jewish music!"

Because really, it's sick. People hate Jewish music. They think it's ridiculous, it's cheesy, it's pathetic. You know what? I think your poetry stinks. No, sorry, I didn't mean to say that. What I meant to say was that I could really care less what you think. Do I go around criticizing your tastes in art or literature? No, and you would consider me a total heathen for expressing such thoughts. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, right? Somehow though, when it comes to Jewish music, you either think it's all terrible or you have the brains of a dodo bird on speed.

Sure, everyone has their one or two groups/songs which they like. Some popular choices would be the Marcus Brothers, Matisyahu, Shlomo Carlebach, Soulfarm, or any other counter-cultural group which doesn't sound so much like other Jewish music to be hated. Lipa Schmeltzer used to be in this group, but then he got popular, so he's not cool any more.

Do I like every Jewish song, or even every artist? Not at all. Do I think every artist or every song is terrible? Not at all. There's good and there's bad, just like there's good and bad in non-Jewish music. Do we hear that all non-Jewish music is terrible? Of course not! Because it's not all terrible. Not all Jewish music is terrible either. Most of it is actually pretty good. And even if you think it's bad, I really don't care. Unless you want me telling you your poetry stinks...

37 comments:

renewing my anonymity said...

now i know what subscring means...

very handy i must say

but i still am in the dark on how to actually "subscribe"

The Real Shliach said...

It's pretty simple-get a Google account.

C said...

1-that particular blog doesn't require a comment to subscribe.

2-I am proud to say that I do like much of what Jewish music has to offer. Although, I am biased, as that is all I have listened to in a long time...

The Real Shliach said...

1. Now it does.

2. Go you!

e said...

Oh no! TRS said that people like Marcus Bros. That means that they're becoming popular so I'm gonna have to stop liking them!

The Real Shliach said...

Perhaps you could become a fan of the Marcus Sisters?

e said...

if they sang...

Yossi said...

does your 'if everyone likes it, it's not cool' theory work for blogs, also?

The Real Shliach said...

Ask people who subscribe to that theory...

sarabonne said...

I was so confused about the comment you left on my own blog until I saw this post. I feel famous! Wow! What a feeling!

The Real Shliach said...

Tell us what it feels like...

sarabonne said...

Well, first comes nervous laughter, then a desire to thank my parents, and lastly I find I must begin smoking.

The Real Shliach said...

Personally, I'd hire an agent, but I suppose it's whatever floateth your canoe.

e said...

You are a funny one, Sarabonne.

sarabonne said...

we at Sarabonne & Co. do try our very best.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R.S.
Clearly this topic causes you so much pain that your rant lacks some of your usually well-defined points. For example, which "people" hate Jewish music? Knowing that at least would help clarify the rest of your comments (I think?). Unusually puzzled, LdT.

N said...

I have to admit I hate most Jewish music, most of the tunes don't fit the holy psukim being used at all. I generally like the songs that aren't just ripping off psukim, such as Shloime Gertner's Nissim.

The Real Shliach said...

LdT: I would have clarified, but I didn't want to lose any friends (though whether I can consider people who don't like Lipa friends...)

N: Exactly! A hater...

La-Z-Boy said...

TRS: Why does it bother you if someone says that they don't like JM? As the title of your post says, you can't judge art! Their opinion is just as valid as yours. They say it sucks, you say "most of it is actually pretty good". Where do you get off criticizing their criticism?

The Real Shliach said...

I don't mind them criticizing, I mind them not listening to any argument to the contrary.

La-Z-Boy said...

It's a matter of taste!! There are no arguments! If a Musicologist were to dissect Lipa's music, and based on his knowledge of the genre, gave an official verdict of 'bad music', would that change your mind in the slightest?

I think not...

Crawling Axe said...

You can't judge my judgment of your art.

Most non-Jewish music written after a certain point of time sucks.

La-Z-Boy said...

CA: That's your personal opinion, and even if I disagreed, it would be ridiculous for me to argue. Taste is not objective

The Real Shliach said...

La-Z-Boy: Exactly.

La-Z-Boy said...

TRS: So wouldn't that negate your whole post? If taste is extremely subjective, then somebody has the right to (gasp!) criticize Lipa. And it shouldn't upset you...

Crawling Axe said...

Taste is not objective. Quality is. If you prefer McDonalds to fine dining, I can't say that your taste is wrong, but I can say that your taste is bad.

I think it makes sense to speak about something objective when there are objective rules. One car can be objectively worse than the other. How? E.g., it can break faster. Or waste more gas. Or not accelerate as fast.

What is the purpose of music? To relate emotional message. Certain music does it in a much worse and less intelligent way than other. It just uses natural mechanisms of our brain to pleasure us. I.e., there is no sophistication involved.

If all art was just subjective, how could there be art, literature, music, crocheting, food, or movie critics? What would critiquing art mean? What's the deal with all the master classes, where some graying musician with a sad face tells some young shnuk: "You play beautifully, but in this part, you can play even better, this way"? I think it means that the musician can express his emotions and the composers emotions in a better way, using a better technique.

As I told TRS the last time I argued with him about this, I can prefer beer, while you prefer wine. That's a matter of taste. But there is good beer and bad beer. There is fish that is bad and stinks and there is fresh fish. Being able to identify rotting fish from fresh takes the same skill as identifying good music from bad.

Of course, in some Skandinavian cultures, rotting shark is a delicacy...

Whatever.

La-Z-Boy said...

To use your example of a car, if what I was looking for was MPG, then Car A would be the best. If however, I was looking for the longest lasting, Car A would be a horrible choice. Based on what *you* are looking for in a song, you can make a somewhat objective choice. But that doesn't give you the right to extend that to what someone else may be looking for.

I believe certain beers are absolutely horrible, but that doesn't mean that all the macro-brewery drinkers are fools...

The Real Shliach said...

CA: I think the best thing you said there is "Whatever".

What else is there to say?

La-Z-Boy: I don't mind their criticism, I do mind their criticism of everything without allowing for the slightest bit of taste in the matter. When people trash Jewish music, they do it in the tone of voice that says, "You listen to Jewish music? You have smaller brains than a roadkill squirrel!"

La-Z-Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Real Shliach said...

Astute observation. Seriously, I'm impressed.

La-Z-Boy said...

Thanks ;). I deleted it because I felt it was a bit too broad and wanted to tweak it.
------
TRS: I believe that the whole Jewish-music-is-crap thing is not always about the quality. For a lot of people, listening to secular music was a rebellion. They can't say the Jewish music is good. That would make look foolish!

Anonymous said...

i think this post is about social pressures

that seem silly because as it seems all of us (adults) are affected

not about tastes and the lack of their objectivity

The Real Shliach said...

You are certainly correct that this has much to do with social pressure, and I agree that it's silly that adults are affected, but adults all over the world are affected by social pressures....

Crawling Axe said...

Wait, was this inspired by a recent post on FrumSatire about modern Jewish music?

The Real Shliach said...

No, this was inspired by a recent Shabbos-table discussion.

Anonymous said...

This is one copy i didn't know about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4OptTvX4I0

le7 said...

Um, it's good I just read this post now.