Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Carl Wilson is working on finding a word to replace "Rockist." I'll be curious to see what he comes up with. His first attempt, which dissatisfies him, is "authenticist," to note Rockism's interest in the "authenticity" of the Rocker's experience as it relates to his music. ("His" -- usually his.)

Authenticism is one of Rockism's 3 pillars, the others being the closely related Auteurism, and the fundamental and central Rebel-ism. Auteurism comes from film criticism, and it relates to the notion that the Rocker is the unique creator of his works, and that each instance of the Rocker's oeuvre is related to and a specific instance of the whole. (And Carl had a really interesting and suggestive post about auteurism a couple weeks ago too.) It occurred to me today that auteurism and authenticism both have very little to do with how music sounds, which relates it to my idea that the late '60s rockcrits lost their focus on how music sounds and got seduced by the imagery and ideologies of rock performance. But Rebel-ism -- rebel-ism does relate to sound. Intense, unpolished, noncomformist, passionate -- adjectives come to mind. And if your aesthetic is tied to not only the sounds of passion, intensity, nonconformity, and roughness, but also the rebellious ideology and imagery they suggest, then authenticism and auteurism follow, because it's useless to play the rebel if you're not calling the shots in your own music-making. Rebel-ism is the central pillar of Rockism.

It should be needless to say, but it's not, that Rebel-ism has since been co-opted by the forces of pillage and repression that have come to dominate the Republican Party and American political life. Ever since Lee Atwater played some ripping blues leads at Bush 41's inaugural, left-friendly Rockists should have had cause for some serious pause. As I've noted here before, Fox News is the only network to forego the traditional brass-and-drum fanfare sound in favor of electric rock guitars. For years I've thought that the Rolling Stones are the perfect mascot for the Republican Party -- wealthy white guys endlessly complaining about how badly they're treated.

Now don't get me wrong. I love rock and roll. Rock and roll is here to stay. Just give me some of that rock and roll music. That kind of music just soothes the soul. And party every day! I just don't think it has anything to do with progressive or humane policies. Progressive and humane values, sure, but even Nazis liked good music and could be kind to their families.

I have no quarrel with the "R" word; still, I'm curious to see what Carl will come up with.
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